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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of March 18, 2014

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, 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. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always 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 March 18, 2014
- Go to this link if you would like more information about the Agenda items.

Highlighted Links below take you straight to that point in the video.

Special Presentations
A. Laurie Hoover of the Business Development Committee Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award to John Teeter, Executive Vice President, Pepsi Cola Bottling Company
80 years of business and community support is honored with the “Business. Well Crafted.” award - Hickory Inc.

B. Proclamation for American Red Cross Month presented to Suzan Anderson, Community Chapter Executive, American Red Cross

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
A. Roger Young - Friends of Hickory, Specific Space for the Downtown Park - (from Hickory Inc.) -  presented to Council plans for a playground and park in the downtown area. He showed photos from three companies that they are currently working with on ideas for the playground. The estimated cost will be between $300,000 - $400,000, and they are planning fund raisers to come up with the money for the project. He requested Council’s permission to continue moving forward with this project on this location.


Hound Notes:
1) This should not have been introduced under "Persons Requesting to be Heard". This should have been a Departmental Report. It is obvious that these people have an association with Hickory Inc. Mr. Young is an architect and president of a local construction agency. He says they have been in contact with the city. Public-Private partnerships are great, but proper records need to be kept of the Public side. This report lasted for over 15 minutes. Nothing wrong with citizens playing a role in a Departmental Report.

2) When would construction begin? It should not begin until all I's are dotted and T's are crossed on obligations. Construction should not start until 100% of the money necessary to fund such a project is accounted for. If you followed the "cart before the horse" folly that was the "Sails on the Square", it started as a $285,000 project and then a few weeks later grew to a $420,000 project and to this day we don't know what was actually spent on that project.

What's to say this group gets into this project and discovers they need a couple hundred thousand more dollars. Alderman Lail told us a couple years ago, that the City Council had screwed up, but they were in to deep, so they had to keep spending the money. Are we going to see a repeat here? No one questions that this group has honorable motives, but we need to ensure that their honor doesn't necessitate a public bailout if they get in too deep and can't find a way out.

3) What the heck is Council doing making a motion for them to move forward? There were no specifics presented here. There were some neat renderings and generalized proposals, but nothing concrete. I have never, in my years covering these meetings, seen Council have this kind of back and forth with people the way they have this group.

Certainly this group should move forward and do their thing. This, as Mr. Young describes, is a private venture and they are free to do whatever they want in the good ole USA, but when the public interest is involved, we better see transparency.


B. Matthew Church - Regarding Outside Rates for Water Fees -
(Postponed to April 1, 2014)

C. Dr. Ric Vandett - Regarding Homeless Veteran Stand Down - (From Hickory Inc.)  - spoke to Council regarding the Foothills Homeless Veterans Stand Down to be held on April 25, 2014 at the American Legion Fairgrounds from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This event provides a number of services for the homeless and needy veterans including medical services, dental care, food, clothing, and various kinds of counseling to reach out to people in need. There are 12 counties that will be sending homeless and March 18, 2014 2 needy veterans. They registered over 200 homeless veterans at the event held last year. They are in need of volunteers. He requested Council’s support in the promotion of the event, and to invite them to come to the event. He also asked Council’s support in helping them locate a new place for Grace House to provide its ministry and for the Veterans Helping Veterans to meet.

Consent Agenda 

Informational Items

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing to Amend 2012 and 2013 Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plans.

2. Public Hearing to Consider an Economic Development Agreement with MAB American for the Development of City Owned Property at Cloninger Mill Road and NC. 127. 

Steve Ivester - Raises several Concerns including empty Big Box Grocery stores and the purpose of this property in conjunction with the proposed park at this site.
Kathryn Greathouse - comes forward with anonymous offer of $900,000 to purchase the property and make it part of the proposed park.

John Argo - MAB American and Rick Maxian - Max Design Group - Grocery store will be an upscale affluent food store and the demographics in that area trend in that direction. 10 specialty shops would be developed in conjunction with the Food store.

Hound Notes:
1) Looks like it is likely a Publix - In looking up Mr. Argo's, who spoke, profile on LinkedIn - Developed 2 million+ SF of retail space in 24 shopping centers (15 Publix anchored) in 5 states including the first Publix in the state of Alabama and market entries for Publix into Huntsville, Columbus, Albany, Montgomery, and Dothan. Purchased $75 million of real estate for development/redevelopment. Mr. Maxian is an architect out of Atlanta. 

Steve Ivester - Anonymous offer shouldn't be ignored

Council Deliberations
Alderman Lail and Meisner like the Economic Developent that goes along with the project and believe if the anonymous buyer/donor were serious (can't give the offer credence) that they would have come forward. Good for the neighborhoods and creates 200 jobs, construction, and tax revenue. Alderman Zagaroli concurred on growth and jobs. Alderman Meisner spoke about the help with developing the park and moving it forward.
Mayor Wright believes that the Council should take the offer a presented.

*** Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of selling the property to MAB American with only Mayor Wright voting no. 

3. Public Hearing to Consider an Economic Development Agreement with Cornerstone United Inc., and Piedmont Wagon Properties, LLC for the Property Located at 1020 Main Ave. NW, Hickory
*** Council vote Unanimously to accept the agreement.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Approval of an Agreement to with the Town of Long View to Purchase Potable Water from the City of Hickory. 

2. Vote regarding the Resolution and Order for Petition of Moretz Mills, LLC to Close a Portion of E Avenue SE.  (Council voted 6 to 1 to close E Avenue after all criteria for closing are met. Alderman Seaver was the one no vote.)

General Comments
Mayor Wright commended the Lady Tornados for the great season that they had, and for playing themselves out of it in the first half, and playing themselves right back in in the second half.

Hound's Final Note
Besides the notes above, you can read my comments and see other details taken on the night of the meeting.
Thoughts about last night's Hickory City Council meeting - March 18, 2014


James Thomas Shell said...

I am posting this comment for Steve Ivester:

"They never asked Ms Greathouse a single question, this in spite of her offer to answer questions. It was almost like they were afraid to know. They could likely have come away from the meeting with a check for $900,000 and the land intact. Instead they came away with a check for $15,000 with a six months out "maybe". And, there are several other suitable, and maybe more appropriate, sites along 127 N."

- You can always post comments. Unfortunately, I have to moderate the site now. I will post your comments as promptly as possible.

Harry Hipps said...

I wasn't against the idea of allowing some commercial development at this site to fund the park that's proposed for this area, but if someone is willing to give that kind of money and we could use the whole area for a park or public use then why not? Yes, it should be done in a timely manner. We need to know that the offer is serious, but this may be a blown opportunity.

The construction jobs are temporary and I'm not against work but what we will have in the years to come is the more important issue. If Publix or another grocer wants to come to North Hickory, GREAT. I'd love a Publix here. But if they are coming they will find the property. Got to give kudos to the Mayor on this one.