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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thoughts about last night's Hickory City Council meeting

The issues that I found interesting before the meeting weren't even discussed that much.

1) The presentations of the Boards and Commissions were basically carbon copies of the previous years plans with tweaks based upon upcoming events.

2) Inspiring Spaces was glossed over, but Ms. Surratt did say the document plan is online:
City's Inspiring Spaces Page -
3) The issue of the evening was the Public Hearing for the Petition by Moretz Mills, LLC to Close a Portion of E Avenue SE. - On December 6, 2013, Patrick, Harper & Dixon, Attorneys at Law, presented a petition on behalf of Moretz Mills LLC, one of the property owners of property abutting a portion of E Avenue SE, requested the City to abandon a portion of this right-of-way.

This turned into the Moretz Mills Development project owned by John Moretz versus Catawba Paper Box owned by Skipper Smith. Mr. Moretz wants E Avenue closed because he is redeveloping his building and incorporating a parking lot across the street and he wants his customers to be able to cross the street without concern for traffic.

Mr. Smith's business received a Hickory Well Crafted Business Award on April 16, 2013. His business uses that street as an access road to accept (ingress) and deliver (egress) goods to his business. Currently it isn't a busy street and there are only a few trucks coming through the area per day, but he believes that this street is vital to the health of his business. This road gives them complete and direct access to Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard leading to I-40 and beyond.

Mr. Moretz's building project is very important to the revitalization of that area. He is investing $10+ million in this project and already has 11 tenants who have signed up to lease spaces.  He says he is willing to help redesign street access for trucks to use F Ave Dr SE, instead of E Ave SE.

This issue was to come before the Council back on February 4, but time was allowed for the two organizations to continue to negotiate. Staff, the Attorneys, and the Council agreed to punt the issue to tonight.

Each side brought forth new proposals on this evening during the public hearing and both sides made valid points; but there was also some rhetoric and hyperbole, as one would expect. It was clear that most of the Council was uncomfortable about making a decision on this night and both parties had expressed that they had positive proposals on the table. I think both sides expected the Council to pick their particular proposal.

The Council voted 4 (Mayor Wright, Hank Guess, David Zagaroli, and Jill Patton) to 3 (Brad Lail, Bruce Meisner, and Danny Seaver) to give these two organizations one last chance to come to an amicable agreement over the next 2 weeks.

The Hound: After listening to each side, I think that Wright, Seaver, Zag, and Patton did the right thing here. These people do need to come to an agreement. If we are going to see revitalization and the community moving forward, then we are going to have to work together on progress. There is nothing wrong with giving people every opportunity to do the right thing. If they come to an agreement, then everyone wins. If they don't, then someone's feelings will be hurt.

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