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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of September 3, 2013

` I began recording the City Council late last year, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. Beside each agenda item, you will see the minute:second. You can drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

Agenda about the City Council meeting of September 3, 2013

Special Presentations
A. (1:40) Recognition of Hickory Police Department’s Street Crimes Interdiction Unit and Gang of One Coordinator - Hickory Police Department’s Street Crimes Interdiction Unit was recognized as the 2013 Gang Unit of the Year by the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association. The members of the unit are Sergeant Jeff Medley, Master Police Officer Mike Crisp, Master Police Officer Daniel Orders and Police Officer Gordon Killian. Hickory Police Department’s Gang of One Coordinator Sarah Nelson was recognized as the 2013 Civilian of the Year by the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association. Both awards were presented at the 2013 North Carolina Gang Investigators Association Annual conference on August 13, 2013.
Consent Agenda - (12:50)

New Business - Public Hearings
1. (13:10) Voluntary Satellite Annexation of Property Located at 2633 Springs Road NE, Hickory

2. (18:15) FY 2012-2013 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER)

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. (25:10) Approval of a Purchase Agreement, in the Amount of $710,000 with Musco Sports Lighting -  Presentation by Mac McLeod, Parks and Recreation Director - Lights will be purchased and installed at the soccer field at Henry Fork River Regional Recreation Park. The city’s portion of the bill is reported by Mr. McLeod to be $585,000 and Catawba Valley Youth Soccer Association will contribute $125,000. All CVYSA functions will move to Henry Fork. Currently the CVYSA teams and and Lacrosse teams share fields at Neill Clarke Recreation center. The park currently has seven fields with an eighth under construction. Five fields will be lit and this will allow the other attached fields to be lit by that lighting. Currently only Field 1 is lit. The completion date is expected to be February of next year. The lighting will allow the park to be open longer hours, which will be good for people who utilize its walking trails. Currently there are three soccer tournaments that take place in Hickory annually. This facility has been utilized as a regional facility where people from various communities as far away as Asheville and Charlotte converge as a central location to play matches. Alderman Bruce Meisner spoke about the Galaxy Shootout, where up to 90 soccer teams participated utilizing City Hotel rooms and services. Alderman Guess asked a question and made a statement relating to the multiple uses of the Park, in which it was stated that the park has been used for Lacrosse also. Mr. McLeod when asked about how the park had fared during the recent storms stated that the park had been 6 to 8 feet under water, but the silt actually was utilized as a top dressing for the fields.

The Hound: I have been told that the previous lighting was in very bad shape. Some of the lighting had fallen and was in disrepair. This is good, if the programming is there and the regional aspect is fostered and allowed to expand.





2. (39:45) Code Enforcement Annual Report Code Enforcement annual report - Code Enforcement - Bobby Baker presented the information - Code enforcement is located under the Police Department.

Bobby Baker presentation -  the numbers of issues were expected to peak over time and recede as owners abated issues. Owners have abated 96% of the issues brought by code enforcement.

Commercial Demolitions cost on average $30,000 to abate. When the City has to abate these issues, it can eat a budget up quickly. With commercial demolitions, Mr. Baker said that the buildings that have decayed have got to come down, because of the hazard they pose. These take longer to deal with (paper work), but it is the departments focus. There is a call for service chart below that shows the breakdown of calls (Citizens 43%, Police  26%, Fire 13% .Proactive 18%).

Repeat Offenders have learned how to game the system. The pictures below show some of the issues that Code Enforcement has dealt and are dealing with. There has been a demolition on average every 10 days for the past 5 years. Mr. Baker stated that they believe that the percentage of owner abatement moving forward, because with the economy not improving, many people are choosing to walk away from properties. There has become an issue with vagrancy in abandoned properties. It is a health and safety issue. He next spoke about the complexity of cases; causes including the banks, property owners, and property preservation companies that are coming up with ways not to do things. Code Enforcement has been receiving a lot of calls from people who don't know where to turn and they try to make sure they are pointed in the right direction.

Alder Fox asked about the property owner that never gets it right and has learned how to game the system. Mr. Baker talked about the chronic violator status. He said that they are going to have to learn and bring issues forward to Council. There were further issues discussed including the new law that was passed that allows property owners that demolish buildings are allowed to bury the debris on the property. Code Enforcement has to follow the Codes and Ordinance Laws of the city. Alderman Guss asked about the Chronic Violators. Mr. Baker labeled it as 7 or 8 individuals being 15% to 20% of their work, which is around 50 to 75 properties. These are still active cases. Some of these people have filed bankruptcy or been foreclosed upon and the properties have been acquired by others. This is an ever evolving process.

Alder Fox talked about understanding the high rental rates in many of these neighborhoods and the fragile nature and also spoke about good neighborhoods with absentee land owners and how it can pull a neighborhood down.

Matter not on the Agenda: Alderman Meisner has been appointed as a City Liason with Lenoir-Rhyne University.

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