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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of September 1, 2015

(Final Release)
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.

Hound Notes: Been sick and had other obligations. Seems I've had a lot of those things happen lately. There wasn't anything imperative that happened at this meeting. The main issue was a continuation of the issue related to the long time proposed bridge that would come off of I-40, head down McDonald Parkway and 29th avenue, then Huffman Cove Road, and cross into Caldwell County in the Gun Powder point area. Several people spoke against this proposal, because it has been tabled for so long, and the local Metropolitan Planning Commission owns rights of way in that area, that it is having a negative impact on these people dealing with property transactions. A lady, Mrs. Denise Poe, recently came before the City Council and discussed this issue. She was unable to sell a piece of property she owns, because the bank would not submit a loan because of these right of way issues. There was a special meeting, held before this meeting, in which these issues were discussed. I did not attend. In the end, the City Council decided that they would submit a letter to the Caldwell County Commission that states that the "Right of Way" should be removed from this property. Mayor Wright, Aldermen Lail, Seaver, and Zagaroli voted to send the letter. Aldermen Meismer, Guess, and Alder Patton voted against and wanted a feasibility study done before voting on the issue.

The second issue of the night was an ordinance related to animals being present in public places at public events. The issue was brought forth at a recent council meeting by Police Chief Adkins. The issue related by Chief Adkins deals with control of pets and safety interacting with other pets and people in these areas. The Council unanimously agreed with the ordinance. There are some exceptions set forth in the ordinance.

I would like to note that although not perfect these recordings are now Closed Captioned for the Hearing Impaired. Look for the CC button at the bottom right on Youtube.


Invocation by Alderman Danny Seaver

Special Presentations
A. Summer Library Reading Program - (per Hickory Inc.) - Ms. Lisa Neal, Children’s Services Coordinator of Patrick Beaver Library discussed highlights from the summer library reading program. She presented a PowerPoint presentation of the events that was held. She advised there was 1,325 children that had signed up for summer reading at Hickory Public Library; 5,737 people that attended the 172 programs that was offered over eight weeks at both libraries. The total number of minutes read was 1,192,400. That was almost 20,000 hours of book time in Catawba County in eight weeks.

B. Special Recognition - (per Hickory Inc.) - Mayor Wright recognized City Clerk Debbie Miller for the designation of North Carolina Certified Municipal Clerk from the North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks.

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
A. Mr. Daniel Blackwelder addressed Council regarding a proposed thoroughfare. He expressed concerns regarding the lines on a plat that had been presented to Council at a workshop. He stated that the lines appear to be arbitrary lines in terms of where they fall on the map. He commented that in reality, Mr. Marshall had said that it was an inaccurate representation of how the thoroughfare and bridge would cross the lake. He was concerned about the potential effect it may have on the marketability of the property in the area. He commented that if the lines are not accurate they should be removed or the planning authority should come back in and do a better job of locating them on the maps so that they more accurately represent where this possible future bridge will go.

B. Ms. Denise Poe advised Council that she had previously spoken to them. She is fighting against a bridge that she was told would never come. She questioned why Council would want to hold up progress for her, the neighborhood, and for the buyers who would like to build on this property. She advised that the cost of that property was not much when you are going to the expense to build a bridge. She advised that it was a lot to her, and that she needed to sell the property. She asked Council to not prevent this for something that will likely never happen, when it will cause harm for years and years for the people who own the property. She requested Council write a letter supporting the removal of the easement from their property.

C. Mr. Charlie Brady thanked Council for conducting a workshop of the Hickory Newton-Conover Thoroughfare Plan. He advised that rerecording the plat would not be a viable option. As long as the thoroughfare plan is out there, it would be doubtful that Crescent would want to record it without it, as long as that plan was floating out there. If it is withdrawn, and the plat is still in existence, a title search would discover that and it is a red flag. You would do due diligence to find out the status of the corridor project. Through COG there would be a statement that would say that is off the table. He commented about the potential inaccuracies that may be currently on the plat. He requested that COG do a review of those plats to see where they mesh with the plan. That might provide some relief to some people if there are inaccuracies. This plat has been there for 24 years, and the bridge was “dead in the water” since 2002. He commented that it is a cloud on title. He questioned how long it should effect people like Ms. Poe and other property owners. He urged City Council to help these property owners by voting to have the plan withdrawn. They could take that recommendation to the Caldwell County Commission and talk to them individually. There has not been a formal vote by that board, so it is not a done deal or the final word on the subject. He commented that they did not have an informative session like Hickory City Council did before they discussed it. He advised that would be part of their plan moving forward.

D. Ms. Carrie Craymer thanked Council and advised that she had learned a lot from the informative meeting. She advised that she lived in Phase 1 and they had built in 1998. She advised that Phase 1 and 2 were built and later on Phase 3 was built. Unfortunately the folks that built in Phase 3 were misdirected. They had been told many times that the toll bridge was gone. The industry was thriving at that time and there was not as much pressure on the banks with money. That is what is happening with Phase 3 that have not built homes. That is being viewed negatively toward the banks. She thanked Council for any support that they would give to the fellow citizens.

E. Mr. Larry Pope thanked Council for the opportunity to voice his personal opinion on what was brought to Council by the COG. He commented that once something is in the planning stage, but it interferes with a citizen’s right to use their personal property to the fullest capacity, he would hope that City Council would do a letter to Caldwell and advise Caldwell County Commissioners that Council has no problems with this being removed from the plans for a widening of Gunpowder Road. He was of the opinion that if DOT wants to widen that road then let the State come back in and give fair market value for the property owners, instead of holding them hostage by keeping that information floating out there to who knows to who. He encouraged City Council members and the Mayor to do a letter saying to Caldwell County that they do not object to removing the necessary items that will free up the usage by citizens of Caldwell County in that area.

Council discussion of this issue - A motion was made to address this issue.  John Marshall of the Western Piedmont Council of Government came to the podium to address the Council. The downside of removing this from Metropolitan Planning Agenda is that if it is removed, then it is going to be hard to get back in there (the thoroughfare plan - the rotation with the State Government). You would have to start all over again. Do you see a potential of growth in the Hickory/Southern Caldwell region that would dictate needing that bridge in the future. Mayor asked about what we have in this - time and money? Been on the thoroughfare plan since 1983. Alderman Lail moved to send a letter to the Calwell County Commisissioners stating that "We aren't petitoning the MPO for removal of the proposed thoroughfare. We have no objection to them acting to remove any reservation of rights of way that might relate to that proposed thoroughfare." Because we don't know the alignment and no environmental impact studies have been done... Alderman Meisner asked why this group doesn't go to the caldwell Comission first. Why should (the Council) take a stand first. Alderman Lail said he was being supportive and doesn't like bureaucracy and this lady (Mrs. Poe) getting held up. Alderman Meisner talked about the plan to build out that area - Crawdads stadium along the river and into southern Caldwell County. This will make it hard for people from that area to get to Viewmont and vice versa. Alderman Lail said that his motion isn't that this item be removed from the thoroughfare plan. Further discussion was held related to what good would such a letter to the Calwell County Commission do. Mr. Marshall related how the same issue would exist, if the rights of way are removed, but this thoroughfare remains in place... (Discussion continued) Mr. Brady came back and addressed the Council in relation to the plats and lines along the plats as far as where the bridge would cross the river. He spoke about the arbitrary plkan of where the bridge would cross the river. Mr. Marshall spoke about a 1997 feasibility study. Guess and Patton spoke about asking for a feasibility study. Mr. Marshall stated that could take anywhere from 6 months to 10 years.  The Council did choose to send a letter in support of Alderman Lail's motion  "We aren't petitoning the MPO for removal of the proposed thoroughfare. We have no objection to them acting to remove any reservation of rights of way that might relate to that proposed thoroughfare."

Consent Agenda - Unanimously approved

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Consideration of Changes to Hickory City Code Ordinance Chapter 4 – Animal and Fowl. - Presentation by Police Chief Adkins - This is a continuation of the August 4, 2015 meeting.

General Comments
Alderwoman Patton commented that she attended the Viewmont Business Association meeting
and they had incorporated the City’s logo in their logo. They have the Street Strut coming in
September. There are 44 businesses signed up to participate and promote the Viewmont area. She commented that the Science Center is putting on a portal to science that is helping the Caldwell Social Services, Burke, Alexander, Catawba, and Catawba Public Health to get disadvantaged
children access to the Science Center. They want everybody to have access there.
Mayor Wright advised that he had presented a proclamation to Lenoir-Rhyne University on their
125th Anniversary,which will continue all year. This year they have a record enrollment at their
three campuses. They have a record number of freshman and 500 student athletes’and 50
international students. We are very proud of Lenoir-Rhyne and the contribution that they have made, and are continuing to make.
Mayor Wright commented that Benton Blount from Granite Falls would be on America’s Got Talent. He encouraged citizens to cast a vote for him.
Alderman Seaver commented that Lenoir-Rhyne was one of the top six small college towns in North Carolina, because of the relationship between Hickory and Lenoir-Rhyne.
Mayor Wright advised great article in “Our State” magazine.

Closed Session
At approximately 8:22p.m. Council went into Closed Session.
At approximately 9:00 p.m. Council returned to open session and approved a settlement agreement with the Faruque’s and a budget amendment to meet the financial obligation of the settlement.

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