NORWOOD TOWN COUNCIL
Monday, April 5, 2010 – 7:00 p.m.
Attendance: Mayor Harry Beeker, Mayor Pro Tem James Lilly, Commissioners Beverly Johnson, Henry Thompson, Sr., Harold Thompson, Raymond Skidmore, Town Administrator Dwight Smith, Town Clerk Pam Lisenby, Police Chief Randy Smith, Fire Truck Driver Johnny Lambeth, Zoning Officer Virgil Hinson, SNAP Representative Dexter Hinson
The regular monthly meeting of the Norwood Town Council was held on Monday, April 5, 2010 at the Norwood Town Hall. Mayor Harry Beeker called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m., welcomed the visitors and asked Commissioner Henry Thompson to pray.
Under Public Concerns, Bob Hathcock of Alberta Drive stated he had a real problem with muskrats at his lake home, adding they were very “destructive” and were ruining the seawall. Hathcock said it was fruitless to try to trap the muskrats because they bred so quickly. Hathcock said he had lived at this address since 1982 and had averaged killing 30 muskrats per year. Hathcock asked if an amendment could be made to the Town Ordinance forbidding shooting of a firearm in the town limits to allow homeowners along the lake to protect their property from these rodents.
Administrator Smith stated he had visited Mr. Hathcock’s property on Alberta Drive and the muskrats had created a lot of holes.
Sam Songer of Berry Hill Drive said a lady paid him to keep the muskrat holes on her property filled in with gravel and sand. Songer said it would be good if the muskrats could be legally shot.
Mayor Harry Beeker asked if Stanly County Animal Control would do anything to help with this problem. Administrator Smith answered that he had never known them to help.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the Wildlife Commission would have any solutions.
Administrator Smith said he was hoping the water along Alberta Drive was not in the town limits, but it was.
Charles Lowder of Alberta Drive asked how duck hunters could tie a boat to the trees along his lakefront and shoot ducks. Administrator Smith said they were doing so illegally. Lowder said he had contacted a Wildlife official who said the duck hunters were legal.
Administrator Smith reminded Board members of the group who had petitioned the Board in the past to pass an ordinance allowing them to shoot the ducks. Smith continued that Wildlife officials had said it was Norwood’s prerogative about allowing or disallowing duck hunting.
Mrs. Gene Doyle said the muskrats had dug so much at her house on Alberta Drive that sink holes were developing in the back yard and the muskrat babies were coming up in the front yard.
Mr. Gene Doyle stated they were rebuilding their sea walls and had been forced to remove two trees because the digging of the muskrats had undermined the integrity of the trees.
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Mr. Hathcock stated the muskrats were “tunnelers”, adding some could be caught, but not many.
Mr. Songer stated that when environmental officials stopped Carolina Power & Light from spraying the lake, the muskrats came back.
Mayor Harry Beeker stated that those having trouble with duck hunters should call the Norwood Police Department for assistance. Mayor Beeker asked if the Town Council could check with Animal Control and Wildlife officials about controlling the muskrats before any additional action was taken.
Commissioner Johnson asked if Progress Energy could be contacted to help.
Mr. Doyle stated, “Don’t depend on Progress Energy to do anything!”
Mr. Hathcock thanked the Town Council in advance for their help.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if Norwood could check with any other communities like Lake Wylie.
With no further public comments to be made, Mayor Beeker called for a motion to accept the Consent Agenda as follows:
1) The minutes of the March 1, 2010 regular meeting of the Norwood Town Council were approved on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Commissioner Johnson, and passed 5-0.
2) The minutes of the March 8, 2010 special meeting of the Norwood Town Council were approved on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Commissioner Johnson, and passed 5-0.
3) A budget update was accepted on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Commissioner Johnson, and passed 5-0.
4) A treasurer’s report was accepted on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Commissioner Johnson, and passed 5-0.
Mayor Beeker then called for a motion to enter a public hearing for a conditional zoning request. Mayor Pro Tem Lilly so moved, seconded by Commissioner Johnson. The motion passed 5-0.
AGENDA ITEM #1 – CONDITIONAL ZONING REQUEST
Administrator Smith stated that conditional zoning provided a way to zone a certain piece of property within a zoned district differently from the zoned district. Smith said that Stanly County Christian Ministries was asking to change the zoning of the use at 226 North Kendall Street (Community Table) to Highway Business within a Light Manufacturing zoned district. Smith reminded Board members that it would require an 80% affirmative vote to do this—not just a majority vote.
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Virgil Hinson, Norwood Zoning Officer, stated that Barry Whitley of Stanly County Christian Ministries had met with him about enlarging the Community Table. Hinson said the building was currently a nonconforming building in an M-1 zoned district, adding that the M-1 zoned district would not accommodate this use, but the NB district would. Hinson said Whitley was asking the Board to consider a Conditional Use Zoning District to make the use at 226 North Kendall Street zoned as Neighborhood Business. Hinson emphasized that the plot was not being rezoned—just the use. Hinson explained this was a two-part process: 1) Consider the Conditional Use Zoning District and 2) Consider the Conditional Use Permit. Hinson stated that the Norwood Planning Board had recommended that the Norwood Town Council consider approving this request pursuant to the factors relevant to issuance of a conditional use permit.
Hinson said the Planning Board had been concerned with the parking issue, adding there was a 6 ft. drop behind the Community Table. Hinson said Stanly County Christian Ministries would have to come back before the Zoning Board to get a setback variance and parking would have to be done in the rear of the building.
Commissioner Skidmore asked if the property extended all the way to Dock Street. It was stated that it extended to the beginning of the wooded area. Zoning Officer Hinson stated it was 53 ft. from the side of the building to the property line.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if the setback requirement would be met on the upper end. Zoning Officer Hinson said Stanly County Christian Ministries would have to request a 9 to 10 ft. variance on the left side.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if that was measured from the overhang of the roof. Administrator Smith said, “This Board does not count roof overhang.”
Administrator Smith added this was “very complicated” and would require three variances.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the conditional use district zoning would revert back or stay with the property. Administrator Smith stated that after six months, application could be made to revert back.
Barry Whitley of Stanly County Christian Ministries stated that the area behind the Community Table had been graded and could be turned into parking. He added he wanted to improve this property and get it looking better with landscaping.
Commissioner Skidmore asked if there was any way to purchase additional property where the trees were. Mr. Whitley stated that G.W. Clontz had been talking with Reggie Barfield and thought Barfield would give what was needed on either side.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if Christian Ministries was planning on placing vinyl on the exterior of the new part so it would look like the old part. Mr. Whitley stated that changes would be made.
With no further comments, Mayor Beeker called for a motion to close the public hearing and return to regular session. Commissioner Harold Thompson so moved, seconded by Commissioner Skidmore. The
motion passed 5-0.
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Commissioner Henry Thompson made a motion to approve the requested Conditional Use District Zoning and Conditional Use Permit as detailed above. Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.
Mayor Beeker thanked Barry Whitley for his efforts at the Community Table and for meeting a need in the community.
A visitor at the meeting stated he had muscular dystrophy and ate at the Community Table frequently. He thanked Christian Ministries for providing this service.
AGENDA ITEM #2 – BUDGET PREPARATIONS
Administrator Smith stated that work had begun on the 2010-2011 budget, adding it looked “dismal” and it was “scary” not knowing how to predict what would come. Smith highlighted the following:
The State is predicting a shortfall and revenues are projected to be flat.
An employee cost-of-living salary increase has not been considered.
No new equipment is being planned with the exception of a sewer line washer.
Police Chief Smith feels Norwood will get a police car through a grant, but if this does not happen, Town will need to find a way to purchase one.
Fire Department has applied for a grant to get more air packs with a $15,000 match.
Salary of $33,000 included in Fire Department for a paid fire chief ($25,000 salary plus retirement, insurance and taxes.)
At least a 5% water and sewer rate increase is recommended because Town’s debt service will be increased by $23,000-$24,000 for Lake Shore Pump Station. Smith said an increase should have been done last year and he felt guilty about not saying more than he did.
Rumors have been heard that insurance through N.C. League of Municipalities will increase significantly. Private companies may be asked for quotes.
Cash will be needed to settle water situation in Berry Hill area. Norwood has a healthy fund balance of approximately 67%.
Edgewater project is done and was very “healthy” for Town of Norwood. Berry Hill water will be a negotiating process and could eat up the Edgewater profits, however.
Norwood owes less than $2.5 million in debt service. Smith said, “We’re in pretty good shape as far as debt service goes.”
New Christmas decorations have been ordered and will cost $8,000-$10,000 for three years.
Administrator Smith asked if Board members wanted to proceed with the budget plan as outlined.
Commissioner Johnson asked if a 5% water and sewer rate increase would supply the amount of funds needed in the Enterprise Fund. Administrator Smith said, “No, it will bring in about $44,000.”
Smith urged Board members to also be thinking of another fire station. He said two plans would be presented later: 1) To build another fire station close to Edgewater with two bays and a small office and leave the present fire station “as is”; or 2) Build another big fire station on Indian Mound Road. Smith said the second scenario was better and that 28 firemen would be needed for two facilities.
Smith stated that Johnny Lambeth had attended a grant-writing workshop for fire departments. Lambeth
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was present at the meeting and stated that this was a “one-time deal” and all the money was gone. He added that only two fire stations in the state were funded.
Administrator Smith stated that a proposed budget would be presented to Board members in May if all needed information was gathered. He asked for any suggestions regarding the proposed budget.
Mayor Beeker asked if the Enterprise Fund was paying for itself. Administrator Smith said it was not.
AGENDA ITEM #3 – PROPOSED PRIVILEGE LICENSE ORDINANCE
Administrator Smith stated that changes suggested by Board members during the recent, lengthy work session had been made to the proposed privilege license ordinance. Smith said another section had been added called “Electronic Gaming Operation” which would allow the Town to charge $2,000 per machine.
Smith said that he would like to propose that a public hearing on the proposed ordinance be held before the final adoption in May.
It was decided that a public hearing would be held on the proposed document entitled “AN ORDINANCE OF THE TOWN OF NORWOOD LEVYING, ASSESSING, AND PROVIDING FOR THE COLLECTION OF THE LICENSE AND PRIVILEGE TAXES FOR THE TOWN OF NORWOOD, NORTH CAROLINA” at the May 3, 2010 meeting of the Norwood Town Council.
AGENDA ITEM #4 – ARBOR DAY FESTIVAL
Administrator Smith presented a tentative schedule for Arbor Day, stating that the gospel singing would be on Thursday evening, April 22 and the band “Attractions” playing on Friday evening, April 23. Smith said there would be a natural beauty contest and that a good stage and sound system had been acquired. Smith added, “I think you’ll be pleased”.
Smith informed Board members that donations for Arbor Day were down this year.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if the art show and photo contest entries could be gotten out early so people could view them.
Commissioner Harold Thompson said Steve and Brenda Bradley had told him their water was a light brownish color all the time.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the Town was still sweeping the curbing on the streets. Administrator Smith said this had not been done in three weeks and it was “showing”. Smith added that it must be done and he would check into this.
Commissioner Skidmore stated he had received complaints about odors coming from the bathrooms at the Darrell Almond Community Park. Administrator Smith said he had also received complaints about this, adding that he went by every Friday afternoon to make sure the bathrooms were clean.
Administrator Smith presented the following items to the Board:
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1) Smith met with Art Jackson regarding the STEP program—a grant program for downtown planning. Smith said Jackson spent 2-1/2 hours here, was impressed with Norwood, and said Norwood had a “lot of potential”. Jackson also went to The Fork Farm. Jackson said Norwood needed more restaurants and a motel. Smith stated, “I will be surprised if we don’t get the grant.”
2) Smith had a meeting with The Rural Center to discuss the Eastover Pump Station grant. Smith said, “We must not let this die while waiting on the CDB grant”.
3) The Lake Shore pump station should be certified and “start up” this week.
4) The Edgewater water line has been certified. The sewer line cannot be certified until the Lake Shore pump station is certified.
5) Regarding the Mary Branch sidewalk project, the “State people” are talking about an environmental study. Administrator Smith said, “I don’t know where we are on this.”
6) The Berry Hill sewer plans are still waiting to be approved.
7) The Berry Hill water situation is a “pressing problem”. Smith plans to meet with Representative Burr the first of May.
8) Norwood has joined a group with the NC League of Municipalities to work on NCDENR plans. Smith said he wanted to try to come up with a way to battle DENR about plans.
9) Arbor Day signs are up and an insert will be in THE STANLY NEWS & PRESS.
10) Regarding the recycling bins, Smith said he was “disappointed” when Norwood received a statement for $100 for one month. Smith had understood from Green pieces that there would be no charge for the recyclables to be picked up.
11) The 2009/2010 audit met all requirements.
12) Center Rural Volunteer Fire Department has requested Mayor Beeker and Administrator Smith meet with them to discuss increases in First Responder and tax loss charges. Smith said he was not sure Norwood needed their First Responder service, adding that the Norwood Police Department had two defibrillators. Police Chief Randy Smith stated that new batteries had been ordered today and policemen knew how to operate the defibrillators because it was a part of CPR training.
13) New Finish, a business located outside of town, wants to pay ½ price for sewer. Smith said a meter would be purchased to meter the sewer. Smith will call Rural Water about these meters.
14) New Christmas decorations have been ordered. The Norwood Fire Department will try to sell the old Christmas wreaths at $25 each.
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15) Board members will travel to Wadesboro on April 14 for a regional meeting, leaving Town Hall at 3:15 p.m.
15) Smith said Town Hall was “honored” today when Kissell visited.
Commissioner Johnson stated she noticed more drug-related crimes listed on the Police Activity Report. She asked, “Is the problem worse?” Police Chief Smith said more were listed because the newly-hired officer was “really, really gettin’ ‘em’. Police Chief Smith added that the officer was being very nice and all was on video.
With no further business to discuss, Mayor Beeker called for a motion to close the meeting at 8:32 p.m. Commissioner Skidmore so moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly. The motion passed 5-0.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Norwood Town Council will be Monday, May 3, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
HARRY BEEKER, Mayor
PAM LISENBY, Clerk
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