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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of August 3, 2010

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.

At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 6/15/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below

Invocation by Chaplain Robert Ford of Glenn R. Frye Memorial Hospital


Consent Agenda

A. Proclamation Declaring the Week of August 1 - 7, 2010 as “International Clown Week” in the City of Hickory

B. Proclamation Declaring August 8, 2010 as “Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church Day” in the City of Hickory

C. Proclamation Proclaiming August 12, 2010 as “Viewmont Surgery Center Day” in Recognition as an Ambulatory Surgery Center in the City of Hickory

D. Request From Hickory Fire Department for Use of Union Square to Celebrate Patriot’s Day on Saturday, September 11, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

E. Request Hickory Police Department to Award Badge and Service Weapon to Retired Master Police Officer Casey J. McClelland - Under authority granted by the NC General Statues, City Council is requested to award the police badge and service weapon to Master Police Officer Casey J. McClelland who retired on August 1, 2010 from the Hickory Police Department. Upon approval, the badge and service weapon will be removed from the City’s fixed asset inventory.

F. Approve Vacant Building Revitalization Grant “Operation No Vacancy” to Grace Point Holdings, LLC for Property Located at 2905 N Center Street in the Amount of $25,000 - The Vacant Building Revitalization Grant Program was established by City Council in September, 2008 whereby the program provides matching funds up to $25,000 for projects seeking to renovate and rehabilitate vacant buildings and the demolition of substandard buildings. Grace Point Holdings, LLC has applied for such a grant in the amount of $25,000 to assist in the renovation of the building by replacing the roof,
installing a new parapet wall, replacing existing glass and installation of stucco on the exterior. The applicant’s total investment is estimated to be $151,220 to include an interior up-fit. This facility is being renovated for use by a Verizon Wireless Retail Store. The Redevelopment Committee reviewed the application and voted to recommend approval of $25,000.

G. Approve Vacant Building Revitalization Grant “Operation No Vacancy” to ADEMNC, LLC for Property Located at 509 11th Street, NW in the Amount of $25,000 - The Vacant Building Revitalization Grant Program was established by City Council in September, 2008 whereby the program provides matching funds up to $25,000 for projects seeking to renovate and rehabilitate vacant buildings and the demolition of substandard buildings. ADEMNC, LLC has applied for such a grant in the amount of $25,000 to assist in the renovation of the building by replacing the roof, fa├žade improvements that include installation of additional windows, repairs to loading docks and sprinkler system upgrade. The applicant’s total investment is estimated to be $400,000 to include an office up-fit. This facility is being renovated for use by Hickory Mechanical, Inc. and other tenants. The Redevelopment Committee reviewed the application and voted to recommend approval of $25,000. Due to the severely damaged roof, staff requests two (2) reading be held on August 3, 2010.

H. Approval to Purchase Real Property Located Adjacent to the City’s Public Services Complex on 9th Avenue, NE in the Amount of $93,000 - The Mauser Family, owners of 3.2 acres of vacant property located adjacent to the City’s Public Services Complex has agreed to sell this property to the City in the amount of $93,000. The current Public Services Complex property was partially purchased from the Mauser Family in the 1980’s. The purchase of this vacant property would be a good investment for future expansion of this facility, which will be needed in the future to continue to serve our citizens. Miller and Associates performed an appraisal of the property dated April 27, 2010 for $93,000. The land value is approximately $162,525 with an approximate tax value of $50,789 per acre. The expense of this property would be shared equally by both the general and public utilities fund. Staff recommends approval to purchase said property.

I. Approve Application and Resolution to Receive Grant Funds From NC Construction Grants and Loans for Subdivision Sanitary Sewer Lines - City staff desires to file an application for funds with NC Construction Grants and Loans for sanitary sewer lines in the Random Woods, Sherwood Forest and East Woods subdivisions. These three (3) areas were identified in 1998 as future service areas for the City of Hickory sanitary sewer system. The City originally applied in 1999 and was asked to resubmit an updated Preliminary Engineers Report in 2009 and the City received final approval on May 10, 2010. This project will have a potential to serve approximately 226 homes and eliminate the potential public health hazard of septic system failures impacting surface waters. These areas are in the City’s ETJ and the City
does have existing sanitary sewer lines available for connection. We would be requesting $2,946,042.99 representing the entire anticipated construction cost with a maximum award available of $3 million. The NC Construction Grants and Loans staff has requested an updated application for funding while giving the City preliminary approval of the grant funds subject to availability. No match is required. Staff
recommends approval of both the application and resolution.

J. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 2 - 1. To budget a $1,797 insurance claim check from Nationwide Insurance Company in the Water and Sewer Pipes, Hydrants and Meters line item. This payment is for damage sustained to a fire hydrant on 05-19-10.

2. To appropriate $46,900 of Water and Sewer Fund Proceeds from Financing and $46,900 of appropriated General Fund Balance and transfer to the Public Services land code. This transfer is to pay for the purchase of 3.2 acres of vacant property adjacent to and between the Public Services complex and 9th Ave. NE. The purchase of this property would provide for future expansion of the Public
Services Complex. This property is two 1.6 acre tracts and is appraised for a total of $93,000. An additional $800 is budgeted for associated property title and closing costs.

K. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 1 - 1. To appropriate $57,562 of Federal Miscellaneous revenue and budget in the Recovery JAG projects Specialized Equipment line item. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the City of Hickory Police Department entered into a memorandum of agreement to allow access and use of the Firearms Range for FBI training. $57,562 represents the FBI contribution for the target system and chain link fence.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Second Reading - Approve Vacant Building Revitalization Grant “Operation No Vacancy” to ADEMNC, LLC for Property Located at 509 11th Street, NW in the Amount of $25,000 - The second reading was held to expedite the process of this renovation. The mayor stated that this would be a great improvement and what the purpose of Operation No vacancy was intended t5o be.

2. Adopt Ordinance Declaring Property Unfit for Human Occupation and Authorization to Remove or Demolish Structure Located at 244 8th Avenue Drive, SE, Hickory, PIN # 3702-11-76-2663 - The structure located at 244 8th Avenue Drive, SE, Hickory, was inspected by Code Enforcement Officer Kent Sigmon and determined the structure to be dilapidated; exceeding 50% of the tax value to repair, and also poses an imminent threat to health and human safety. This case opened on January 20, 2010 and the Order to Abate was issued on February 10, 2010. During the February 10, 2010 hearing, property owners, Eloise Wilfong Izard and Thomas Allred indicated financially they could not repair or board up the structure and preferred the City to demolish the structure. Officer Sigmon drafted a letter stating their position and had all parties sign including Thomas Izard, who is incarcerated. The structure has continued to deteriorate and vandalism has become more prevalent. City Staff Attorney has reviewed the case and concurs that proper procedures have been met. C & S Cable is under contract to perform City demolitions and estimates the demolition of this property to be in the amount of $3,483, which in turn will become a lien against the property. Funds are budgeted for FY 2010-11. - Bobby Baker provided the report and information as stated above along with a Power Point presentation. A title search indicated that their were 4 property owners attached to the property (heirs). Two showed up for the hearing. Those owners indicated that they could not afford to bring the house up to coded and they understand the violations. their has been continual vagrancy and continued dilapidation, which is affecting neighborhood housing values. Floors are falling in, windows are broken, the roof is deteriorated. There are many indications of vagrancy including bottles, clothing, windows and doors open. It is a very hazardous situation. The City Staff Attorney has concurred that proper procedures have been followed. City Council unanimously approved this petition.

Alderman Guess, Alder Patton, Mayor Wright, and Alder Fox all had positive comments directed towards Code enforcement entailing the work that they do. Alder Fox stated that it is really important that they stay on top of these things with the economy the way it is. It is hard for people to maintain, but it is important, especially in borderline neighborhoods. Mayor Wright stated that these are tough times for everybody and if we aren't careful, we can get way behind the so called curve on this and the spotlight is not good for neighbors.

The Hound completely understands why this property needs to be torn down and this same type of situation has been brought to Council several times over the past two years. And it will continue to happen while the equilibrium of supply and demand related to home values remain out of whack.

I would just like to understand why it is so easy to tear down a house such as this and the same type of emphasis is not placed on many of the dilapidated warehouses in this area that are in just as bad of shape. These warehouses have just as much of a negative effect on the real estate that surrounds them. Mayor Wright mentioned that if we aren't careful that we could get way behind the curve on this issue (I believe he is referring to property maintenance) and I couldn't agree more. Take for example the two city pools that have been shut down. I believe that if they had been properly maintained, then they would not have ended up in a state of disrepair that has rendered them inoperable.

General Comments
Alder Guess asked where staff was on the Landlord-Tenant issue (he brought up at the last meeting). Attorney Crone and Attorney Dula stated that they have met and a presentation will be made at a workshop and options will be given. Alderman Guess also spoke highly and is encouraged about the first meeting of the Mountain View neighborhood association, which he stated was highly attended by city officials and members of the Mountain view community. Alder Fox commended David Moore for his vision on Old Lenoir road and she hopes that it will be a ripple effect and encourage others to do the same.

The Hounds Report - This was one of those typical meetings that are held during the dog days of summer. No presentations were made and the new business was cut and dry. As we move closer to the fall there will be many more issues that come to the fore of our community.

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