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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of October 16, 2012

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 right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

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 10/16/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:  City Council Agenda - October 16, 2012 - (14MB Document)

Invocation by Rev. Jeff Stewart, Pastor Java Journey Coffee House Ministry

Special Presentations
(1:35) Presentation of the 2012 Beautification Awards by Community Appearance Commission Chair, Leroy Harris - 1) Colette Dowell - 318 3rd St SE   2) The Village Corner - 121 NC 127 South   3) Gavin Mitchell - 15 2nd Ave NW  4) Hickory High School  5) Zhara Baker Playground  6) Morningstar Baptist Church   7) Adelaide Shuford Award - Paul Ohle - the corner of 14th St NE & 8th St Dr NE

Citizens Requesting to be Heard about Items on the Agenda

*** After the Special Presentation, the Mayor was supposed to ask if anyone had anything they wanted to say about Items on the Agenda. He did not and it was his proposal from the last City Council meeting and it was passed with Unanimous Consent and it was not adhered to. The Hickory Daily Record gave the Mayor kudos for the proposal and then at the subsequent meeting it is completely dismissed and I don't know if they are even aware of this. 

During an item that was Removed from the Consent Agenda, the Mayor then made a motion to allow people to come forward about items on the agenda.  I don't think people are comfortable with "fly by the seat of your pants" protocols. We don't need arbitrary rules. The above needs to be placed on the Agenda if it to be a part of the meeting. We need people to do what they say they are going to do.

Proposal introduced by the Mayor outside of the constructs of the agenda 
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of October 2, 2012 - Addendum on the CEG proposals - Proposal introduced by the Mayor outside of the constructs of the agenda

Consent Agenda:
A. Approval of proclamation for Toastmasters Week, October 29 through November 4, 2012.

B. Approval of proclamation for Pinecrest Retirement Day, October 20, 2012

C. Community Appearance Commission request for approval of a Landscape Grant for nonresidential property owned by Hollar Hosiery Landlord LLC located at 882 Highland Avenue SE in the amount of $2,500. - The applicant owns the property located at 882 Highland Avenue SE, which is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use facility. The proposed site and landscape renovations include mulching and planting of juniper along the embankment adjacent to the railway. The overall project will also include the installation of additional landscaping materials as required by the City’s Land Development Code for redevelopment projects. The applicant has provided two bids for the proposed eligible improvements, which total $7,889 and $7,200; both quotes are greater than $5,000 therefore the applicant qualifies for the full grant of $2,500.

D. Community Appearance Commission requests approval of a Landscape Grant for nonresidential property owned by The Salvation Army located at 248 and 320 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard SE, in the amount of $2,500. - The applicant owns the properties at 248 and 320 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard SE, which are part of The Salvation Army’s campus. The intention of the proposal is to create an entrance feature that signifies the existence of the campus, and which also works to improve the appearance of the corridor. The applicant has provided two bids for the proposed improvements, which total $13,088 and $5,280, both bids are greater than $5,000 therefore the applicant qualifies for the full grant of $2,500.

E. (15:50) Community Appearance Commission requests approval of an Appearance Grant for nonresidential property owned by the Joe Jackson Mitchell Estate located at 808 Old Lenoir Road, NW, in the amount of $5,000. - The proposal involves the replacement of the doors and windows of a vacant building located at 808 Old Lenoir Road NW. The applicant has two bids for the improvements, which total $11,080.47 and $14,425, both quotes exceed $10,000; therefore the proposal qualifies for the full $5,000 grant. Item pulled from the Consent Agenda. Alderman Guess had the item removed - asked if it would have not better qualified for a Vacant Building Grant. Brian Frazier stated that they could look into tweaking this, but he isn't sure it fits the criteria - size and square footage -- for the vacant building program.  Gavin Mitchell addressed the Council about questions as to whether he had an intended use for the property. He stated that he did not. Council votes 7-0 Unanimous Consent on this issue. 

The Hound has been told that Mr. Mitchell constantly applies for grants and many times is awarded them. The rule should be no more than one grant be given to an entity over a specific period of time and that in my opinion should be 5 years.  Mr. Mitchell talked about his track record. He said that he needed windows to make the property habitable/marketable.  The Mayor talked about potential of the property. Isn't this picking winners and losers again? Also for the Council to arbitrarily have a dialogue with Mr. Mitchell after several times stating that they would not do so raises a lot of questions.  Are there going to now be back and forth discussions between the Public and the Council going forward. I think that is a good thing if it is done across the board. Inquiring minds want to know?

F. Approval of closing Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2012 for a training workshop. - Request to allow both locations of Hickory Public Library to close at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2012 so full time and part time staff can participate in an afternoon workshop on customer service, ethics, and security issues. The training will be conducted by Lori Special of the State Library of North Carolina, Yaidee Fox, Assistant to the City Manager, and a representative of the Hickory Police Department.

G. Approval of Lease Agreement and Aviation Fuels Contract with Eastern Aviation Fuels Inc. (EAF) as the Hickory Regional Airport’s supplier of aviation fuels. - Under the proposed contracts, Eastern Aviation Fuels, Inc. will supply the Airport’s requirement of JetA and AvGas and lease to the Airport two refueler trucks for a period of five (5) years. The cost of JetA fuel is to be based on the previous week’s average of the published Platt’s US Gulf Coast Pipeline Mean average (“Plats Index”) plus a differential, while the cost of AvGas will be Eastern’s posted dealer price. The Airport will have the option to purchase the fuel trucks at the end of the five year term.

H. Adoption of the Municipal Records and Disposition Schedule in accordance with the provision of Chapters 121 and 132 of the General Statues of North Carolina regarding public records. - It has been the practice of the City of Hickory to adopt the Municipal Records and Retention Schedule in order for the City to legally and properly dispose of records pertaining to the terms of the schedule. The North Carolina Municipal Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, prepared by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, has been updated in accordance with the provisions of Chapters 121 and 132 of the North Carolina General Statues. This schedule was last updated and approved by City Council on June 16, 2009.

I. Approval of resolution of support for the creation of the Lovelady Rescue District. - Request from Caldwell County Board of Commissioners that the City of Hickory, Town of Granite Falls, and the Town of Rhodhiss (all jurisdictions with corporate limits in southern Caldwell County) approve resolutions of support for the creation of the Lovelady Rescue District in southern Caldwell County. The creation of the Lovelady Rescue Service District would allow revenue that is raised in the District to be returned directly back to the Lovelady Rescue Squad. The tax rate for the Lovelady Rescue District would remain at the current $0.0085, so taxpayers would not see a change in their current tax rate. The City of Hickory, Town of Granite Falls, and the Town of Rhodhiss all have corporate limits within the proposed Lovelady Rescue District. With that being the case, NCGS 153A-302 (a)(1) requires that these jurisdictions approve Resolutions of Support.

J. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following request was considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on October 4, 2012:
Martha & Frederick Boston, 123 10th Avenue SE, Hickory, were awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $5,000 for repairs to their home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 5 year period. Funds are budgeted for this item through the City of Hickory’s Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2010 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

K. Budget Ordinance Amendments
1. To budget $105 of Library donations from several donors in the Library Books line item ($80) and in the Audio Visual line item ($25).

2. To budget a $1,000 donation to the Hickory Kiwanis Foundation in the Parks and Recreation Non-Asset Inventory line item. This donation is for the purchase of an additional piece of playground equipment for the Zahra Baker All Children's Playground.

3. To budget a $2,978 insurance claim check from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Police Department Maintenance and Repair of Equipment line item. This insurance claim check is payment for lightening damage to the Police Department Radio System.

4. To appropriate $2,833 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Street Division Contracted Services line item. $2,833 represents a portion of the Carolina Investment Fund donation that rolled into General Fund Balance. This appropriation is necessary to fund the relocation of a Duke Energy Pole that is in the way of the installation of new guard rail along Grace Chapel Road for the US 321S to Grace Chapel Road Connector. The municipal agreement between the NCDOT and the City states that NCDOT will fund building of the road project but the City will be responsible for relocation of utilities. The Duke Energy pole in conflict is a public utility and this one pole was not known to be a conflict until detail field surveying and construction layout was performed. Duke Energy will actually relocate the pole.

New Business - Public Hearing
(26:45) - 1. Petition No. 12-01, Rezoning of the property of MRCC Properties, LLC located at 205 29th Avenue NE from Medium Density Residential (R-2) to Office and Institutional (OI) - This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on October 5, 2012 and October 12, 2012. Notices were mailed to adjoining property owners on October 1, 2012. The rezoning was considered by the Hickory Regional Planning Commission on September 26, 2012, at which time they adopted a statement confirming the petition’s consistency with Hickory by Choice 2030, and unanimously voted to forward a recommendation of approval to the Hickory City Council. Staff concurs with the findings and recommendation of the Planning Commission. Brian Frazier presentation.

Mr. Frazier and the Mayor talked about how the O&I designation has helped the immediately adjacent properties in the area. Mr. Frazier said they have had several properties inquire about the O&I designation. The Council gave unanimous consent.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1.  (33:00) Award bid to Midstate Contractors, Inc., in the amount of $35,880 for paving in the 400 block of South Center Street, a new parking lot to serve the Old Ridgeview Library. - City Staff is partnering with Interfaith to refurbish the Old Ridgeview Library. City Staff evaluated the existing off-road parking conditions on and near the 400 block of South Center Street in the vicinity of the Old Ridgeview Library and determined a sufficient need to warrant construction of a new parking lot on two City-owned lots along South Center Street. Staff recommends Midstate Contractors, Inc., be awarded the bid in the amount of $35,880 for construction of a new parking lot to serve the Old Ridgeview Library in the 400 block of South Center Street. Chuck Hanson presentation.

Alder Fox had several questions in relation to the parking lot and the building. She asked bout the trees and the open space as it now exists. Landscaping will be in house labor. This building will be used as a museum and re-creation of the old library.  Alder Patton asked about the time frame on construction.  Manager Berry stated that there currently isn't one. Alderman Lail asked about Lighting and was told by Mr. Hanson there would be lighting. Alder Fox's stated that she wanted to be on the record as stating that the old library should have been kept on the original site. Old buildings lose structural and historical integrity when they are moved. The Council gave unanimous consent.

2. (45:18) Community Appearance Commission request approval of an Appearance Grant for non-residential property owned by Hollar Hosiery Landlord LLC located at 883 Highland Avenue SE in the amount of $10,000. - The proposal involves the renovation of the existing building. The proposed renovations include the following: 1) cleaning and repainting of exterior brick work, 2) new exterior doors/storefront, 3) repair and repainting of window frames, 4) replacement and glazing of window frames, 5) replacement of exterior retaining walls, loading docks and exterior concrete and 6) renovation of dilapidated connector building into a plaza area. The applicants have provided two bids for the improvements, which both amount to approximately $225,000. The applicant has requested a grant in the amount of $10,000 which is twice the amount normally provided by Appearance Grants. The Community Appearance Commission finds the project is of significant economic scale and exceptional architectural merit and unanimously recommends that City Council provide grant funding in the amount of $10,000. In the event that City Council does not approve this recommendation, they would like City Council to consider funding the grant at the standard $5,000.

Brian Frazier presentation. There were questions of precedent related to granting $10,000 instead of $5,000.  It was stated that the Community Appearance Commission's annual budget is $55,000. The Assessed value of this building will be $3.5 million. This has been done on one other occasion. Mr. Frazier stated that it was not of this magnitude. The Council gave unanimous consent.

The Hound thinks this is an excellent project, but what kind of precedent is being set by giving the multiple awards to an investor. Just like the situation above with Mr. Mitchell. We should not be giving multiple grants or arbitrarily granting certain projects more money than others.

3. (50:50) Approval of the Cooperative Agreement with US Environmental Protection Agency and the acceptance of two Community-wide Brownfield Assessments Grants. - The City of Hickory applied for two Community-wide Brownfield Assessment Grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in November of 2011. These grants can be used to assess environmental contamination at identified Brownfield sites, which are defined as vacant or under-utilized commercial and industrial properties whose redevelopment is hindered by either real or perceived environmental contamination. In May 2012 the City of Hickory received notice that it had been selected to receive two $200,000 grants to assess petroleum and hazardous materials contamination at Brownfield sites. The total amount of funding is $400,000. There is no required city match. The funds received from EPA will be used to perform Phase I and II environmental site assessments along with cleanup and redevelopment planning at selected sites. Sites will be selected with input from staff, citizens, local developers, and the City’s Brownfield Advisory Group. The grant will last from October 2012 through September 2015.

Brian Frazier presentation. He stated that the city is batting 500 the projects that have been awarded these grants. He pointed to Hollar Hosiery, Lyerly Mill, Moretz Mill, Piedmont Wagon,  S&W Chemical - needs remediation, Piedmont Wagon, Regal Manufacturing, the old Hutto's now Verizon on Hwy 127n... The Council gave unanimous consent.

The Hound - These grants have helped out a lot and Mr. Frazier and his staff should be congratulated for the work they have done here.

4. (1:00:00) Acceptance of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility low bid award with Jimmy R. Lynch & Sons, Inc. in the amount of $10,219,657. - Upgrades to the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility began in 2006. This upgrade is vital to the continued mission and goal of Hickory Public Utilities to protect the area’s natural resources. The existing facility was purchased by the City of Hickory from the Town of Catawba in 2003. The last upgrade to this facility occurred in 1956 to expand to 0.225 MGD. Portion of this facility are between 50 and 60 years old and are becoming very cost prohibitive to operate.

Kevin Greer presentation. Facility up a 1/2 mile on Lyle Creek on Lake Norman. Manager Berry made several statements about the positive economic impact this project will have on the area. Several questions were asked about the contracting of this plant. The operators of this facility will be determined at a later date. The Council gave unanimous consent.

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
A. A member of Citizens for Equity in Government (Jesse McArthur) request to speak to Council regarding a request for City Council meetings to be televised on the government channel. Mr. McArthur and the CEG want the meetings recorded and broadcast on Charter Cable and the Internet to enhance the city council's goal for transparency and accountability by city government to its citizens. For those Citizen's unable to attend, they would be able to keep up with the work pof city council and to also see their ward representatives at work. Many cities and towns are broadcasting their meetings - Greensboro, Wilson, Boone, Morganton, and Mooresville to name a few. We ask that this request be given your utmost attention.

B. Larry Pope spoke about being blind and being lost on the city streets while traveling from his residence, near the Police Department,  to Ridgeview Plaza. This happened when he was traveling Sunday, a week ago, while the Brett's Ride event was taking place. He wanted to thank Alder Sally Fox for helping him when he had become disoriented while walking around the city. She was the only person that had stopped to help him. She gave him a ride to his destination. Larry thanked her for being a person that put behind differences to help a fellow citizen. He stated that she is an example of what we should all be like, when we have differences, that is what we all should do to move the city forward.  He once again thanked her and said keep the good work up.

Matters Not On Agenda (requires majority vote of Council to consider)
Alderman Lail moved that the matter of broadcasting meetings be discussed as a matter not on the agenda. Alderman Meisner said there were figures and Manager Berry said they were outdated. Alder Lail presumed there is local authority to program on the government channel and he stated that the issue should be studied. Alderman Seaver made statements about more and more cities doing this. It was decided that city staff should move forward on this issue.

The Hound is glad we are moving forward on this issue. The meetings are going to be recorded. It is just a matter of whether Hickory Inc. wants to take responsibility for that recording or they would prefer an outside agent move forward with the recording and broadcast of the meetings. This is something that I have specifically asked for in the public arena for 4+ years. Although I have not formally done so at City Council, I have talked about it here and the Citizens for Equity in Government have taken up the cause in the interest of all of the Citizens of Hickory. This is in the best interests of the Citizens of Hickory. We have not asked that it be broadcast live. We have not asked that it be broadcast in 3-D video or audio quality. All we ask is that it do justice to the meeting as it plays out. As Jesse states, this will go a long way in improving (the perception) of transparency and accountability and the relationship that citizens have with their council representative(s).

General Comments By Members of Council, City Manager or City Attorney of a Non-Business Nature
Alder Patton made mention Of Ulysses Long performing at the structure on Union Square this Saturday evening - Sails on the Square Entertainment:
Ulysses Long
Saturday, October 20
6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Presentation to Ulysses Long at 7 p.m.

Free event! Bring a lawn chair and grab some food at one of the local restaurants and enjoy the musical entertainment! Ulysses Long's most recent appearance was on America's Got Talent!
Alder Patton will present Ulysses with a proclomation and a key to the City.

Mayor Wright talked about a meeting of the League of Municipalities this weekend.

Alderman Guess talked about the success of Octoberfest and Mayor Wright added about the success of the Greater Hickory Classic and appreciation for the volunteers and the great exposure for the area.

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