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.
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Here is a summary of the agenda of the 9/18/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:
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Invocation by Rev. David E. Roberts II, Pastor, Morning Star First Baptist Church
A. Award bid to Rodders & Jets in the amount of $310,851.59 for the purchase of VACALL AJV 1015 Jet/Vac Combination Truck Equipment. - The Public Utilities Department-Collections Division operates various types of equipment in the practice of operating, maintaining and managing the collection system. The Jet/Vac combination truck has become an integral component to the successful operation and maintenance of the City’s collection system as well as the other areas we provide service to. This equipment is being replaced as a component of the Public Utilities Department’s normal capital replacement program. Funds for this unit are in the budget for FY 2012-2013 in the Collection Division (8021) Capital Budget.
B. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Joyce Ann Simpson to Alzina M. Wyatt, in Fairview Cemetery
C. Request to declare surplus 5,378 discarded library materials, so that these materials may be given to the Friends of the Library for their annual book sale October 4-7, 2012. The sale of donated and discarded books is the primary fundraising activity of the Friends of the Library and discarded library materials comprise a significant portion of their inventory. The sale of these items ultimately benefits the library, and is an appropriate means of disposing of unneeded materials.
D. Request to approve the nomination of Hollar Hosiery Mills – Knit-Sox Knitting Mills to the National Register of Historic Places. - The oldest section of Hollar Hosiery Mills – Knit-Sox Knitting Mills was built in 1930. The building was further expanded in 1940 and again in 1965. The facility is located at 883 Highland Avenue SE just south of the Norfolk Southern tracks and west of Lenoir Rhyne Blvd. The structure is currently being renovated into a brewery, entertainment, and retail complex. The building’s historical significance stems from its association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, namely its association with the development of the textile industry in Hickory.
E. Request to approve agreement for consulting services in the amount of $50,000 with Gavel & Dorn, PLLC for 20-inch waterline replacement/relocation project (COH-PUD 13- 004). - The Public Utilities Department annually identifies infrastructure that are in need of replacement or rehabilitation as appropriate as a component of the departments sustainability programs. Infrastructures are identified by reviewing records of maintenance calls to the area, reviewing annual inspection records from staff, age of infrastructure and overall size of the project that needs to be performed. This program is intended to identify specific problematic or vulnerable sections of the distribution system and address those components prior to the larger system being affected or damaged. The identified projects are intended to improve or restore system performance and complement the Public Utilities Departments infrastructure sustainability efforts. This evaluation is performed as a part of the Capital Budget planning process and these projects are included in the Capital Budget annually. Funds are in the budget for FY2012-2013 Capital Budget for the Public Utilities Department.
F. Request by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to change the First Time Homebuyer Program Guidelines. - The City of Hickory currently has a First Time Homebuyers program that offers interest free loans to assist with a down payment or closing costs for first time homeowners. The current guidelines do not regulate the age of the home. The majority of the city’s funding for the First Time Homebuyer Program comes from the Western Piedmont Council of Government Unifour Home Consortium. The Unifour Home Consortium has recently amended their guidelines to make houses built before 1978 ineligible for funding due to the additional requirements and costs incurred when using federal funds to assist homes that contain lead based paint. If the city’s guidelines are not changed, no funding from the Unifour Home Consortium would be available for applicants purchasing homes built before 1978, which would greatly reduce the number of homeowners that could be assisted through the program.
G. Approval of a proclamation for Hickory City Council to endorse the Race to the Top District grant proposal of the Hickory City Schools.
H. Approval of an offer of dedication and acceptance of a street right-of-way by City of Hickory for an existing segment of 4th Avenue SE. - In December of 2003 the City acquired ownership of a .21 acre parcel of property from Thomas L. Swatzel Jr. When the City of Hickory took ownership of this property it had already seen development in the form of a private street, which linked an industrial facility to the remainder of 4th Avenue SE. Since this time the street segment has been publicly maintained, but was never formally made public through an offer of dedication, and subsequent acceptance, as outlined in NCGS§160A-374. The North Carolina General Statutes stipulate offers of dedication can only be accepted by resolution of City Council. This same requirement can also be found in the City’s Land Development Code under Article 2, Section 2.3.4 (D). The existing street located on the area of dedication has been maintained as a street by the City of Hickory since 2003 and is in a condition acceptable for formally public dedication.
I. Request for approval of a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the operation of one passenger vehicle for hire. - Lake Hickory Limo Service has applied for a certificate for the use of one passenger vehicle for hire for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Code Enforcement Annual Report - (2:20) Reed Baer addressed the City Council. 808 cases were assigned to officers, both minimum housing (139) and nuisance (669) cases combined - 260 cases per code enforcement officer for 2011-12. About 95% of these cases have been abated by the owners of the property.
Lt. Baer discussed demolitions and compared/benchmarked Hickory Stats versus those of Concord, NC. During the 2009 - present timeframe, Hickory has a 96% abatement rate versus Concord's 62%. Lt. Baer goes on to state that over this timeframe Demolitions and Owner abatement have both increased. Demolitions have been paid for by property owners. 45% of cases have been brought forward by citizens, 18% are Law Enforcement, 10% are Fire Department, 2% are from City Hall or Catawba County, and 25% are proactive (Code Enforcement). Proactive usually comes when Officers check out conditions of properties around properties that have been reported.
Chronic Violators in 2011-12 show 12 chronic violators for this year. Five of these violations were abated by the city and 7 were abated by the property owner. Alder Fox asked what we are going to do with out of state owners that have been consistently turned in? She added that this is going to be the challenge about what we do with these folks. Lt. Baer said this may be due to General Statutes as to why we can't condemn a property. As far as someone out of State they follow the same process and liens will be assessed on their property.
(11:50)Supervisor Bobby Baker next addressed the council and showed on screen properties that have met the criteria of the code enforcement issues that have been discussed. Commercial properties are much more complicated than residential. After going over the specifics of several properties, he addressed properties demolished and the taxes associated were $1.882 million and the taxes owed were $18,948. He talked about revitalization versus continued deterioration. 2 properties that are being renovated are valued at $2.245 million dollars. Southern Desk is being remediated and is very complicated. Steel sheeting has been placed over the windows. He says that this now looks like and existing property and it has been a semi-success story.
The Hound: I believe this is related to the Code Enforcement Report, related to the Rental Property Task Force findings, that have been mentioned previously that was promised to the Council and Citizens over a year ago, although we still haven't heard specifics related to code enforcement and Rental Properties. It looks like having the extra code enforcement officer is helping to deal with the issues that have been brought forward. Alder Fox is 100% correct about dealing with the issues related to abandoned properties and out of town ownership. That is a big part of the issues the community faces.
2. Designation of Voting Delegate and One Alternate Voting Delegate for 2012 Annual North Carolina Annual Business Meeting on October 23, 2012, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (26:50) - Under the NCLM Constitution and the voting procedure established by the League Board of Directors, each member municipality sending delegates to the Annual Conference is required to designate one voting delegate and one alternate voting delegate. The vote of each municipality at the Annual Business Meeting on October 23, 2012 may be cast only by a designated voting delegate or alternate voting delegate.
Citizens Requesting to be Heard
Mr. Cliff Moone stated he wanted to thank his Councilman Bruce Meisner. There was a road project on 8th Street Court NE this summer, during the process of the project his driveway was damaged by a contractor. City staff came expeditiously and repaired his driveway better than it was before the damage occurred.
Mr. Moone stated as of tonight we have finished an interesting and most exciting process in our City’s history; the first petition driven referendum. He stated that this has been an amazing process for the City of Hickory and it has been a wonderful opportunity. He wanted to thank Mayor Wright for the work that he and the Mayor did together in terms of the debate forum. He commented however it turns out tonight, we are going forward as a City.
It was brought to several people's attention, including my own, that some of the people called during the Referendum process were told that if the Referendum passed that it would mean that "'A' Larry Pope could be elected to City Council" and "this is all about getting Larry Pope elected to City Council." Then there is the whole thing about saying that we were involved with and using ACORN to get out the vote.
I am a Republican. We were the party that ended slavery and worked towards helping Blacks achieve Civil Rights. We were the party that protected American business interests through fairness and competition by bringing forward plans to protect American industry through tariffs when necessary and supporting Antitrust legislation to bust up the Robber Barons and help small businessmen compete on a more level playing field. The foundations of the Republican Party looked to be inclusive, not elitists, and represent conservative small government ideals, not get into your personal lives and tell you what to do, because they know better than you. I don't see much of these ideals in many of the locals who purport themselves to be Republican.
People might not have the awareness to understand their own coded racism and I do feel sorry for these people who won't move forward into the modern realities of this nation's foundation as a melting pot. That is a lot of what is holding this area back. The Audacity of Ignorance exposes those who so proudly exclaim their rights as they freely trample on other's liberties. And the worst part is that they put their true colors out there for all to see, while apparently not understanding the message they are conveying to the outside world. They will talk about the negativity of the message provided on the Hound, while not having a clue about the real negativity that they exude from their personal actions.
The following is a message from Larry Pope that Larry, Joe, and I wanted to convey to the public back in August. We were asked not to bring this forth, because it might bring Larry attention and that is just what these people who had conveyed this intolerant message aimed to do; to drag Larry through the mud as they have done so many times previously. It is an issue that we are still hearing about, even though the special election is over, and it swayed some people's votes. Mark Twain said it best, "It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled."
And so I will now present this information that is a month old, which exposes a lie brought forth by the shameless:
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