Forest Hills Council Meeting 7-12-04



JULY 12, 2004

Mayor Jim Davis called the regular meeting of the Village of Forest Hills Council to order at 7:08 p.m. on Monday, July 12, 2004 at the University Inn, Cullowhee.  Mayor Davis opened the meeting with a warm welcome to all, and prayer.

Council Members present were:  Mayor Jim Davis, Councilpersons: Sue Burton, Richard Iobst, Joe Rossano and Jim Wallace.  Others present were:  Village Clerk, Ruth Roman; Assistant Village Clerk, Evelyn Rooks-Weir; Finance Officer, Jim Weir; Planning Board Members, Joe Roman and Gene Tweedy; Economic Development Liaison, Irene Hooper; Member, Zoning Board of Adjustments, Michael Germano and Alternate Members Zoning Board of Adjustments:  Sally James, Robert Rowland and Chris Stacey.  Residents present were:  Joe Chris, Charles Burton, Janie Prentice, and Angela Davis.  Sylva Herald reporter, Cary King.

 Mayor Davis called for a motion to approve the June 7, 2004 minutes of the regular council meeting as submitted.  Motion was made and seconded to approve the June 7, 2004 minutes as submitted (Iobst/Burton), motion passed unanimously.

 The Mayor reported that new members were up for approval and swearing in, and called for a motion to approve these new members in the capacity in which they will be serving.  A motion was made and seconded (Iobst/Rossano) to approve Dr. Mike Germano as a regular member of the Zoning Board of Adjustments, and Sally James, Robert Rowland and Chris Stacey as Alternate Members of the Zoning Board of Adjustments, and Joe Roman for another term on the Planning Board.  At this point, Mayor Davis announced that Ruth Roman will serve as the Village Clerk, and that Evelyn Rooks-Weir will serve as Assistant Village Clerk.  Ann Melton, Assistant Clerk of Court/Jackson County, administered the oath of office to the newly approved members and to the clerks.

 Jim Weir, Financial Officer, was called on by Mayor Davis to give the financial report.  Mr. Weir handed out a fiscal 2003/2004 year-end Financial Report.  He reported that new items of revenue for the year were a Utility Tax and a Municipal State Grant in a combined new additional revenue of $7,136.  He stated that the year-end budget will look under budget in expenditures due to the fact that he has not yet received a billing for insurance, and this will cause the budget for the new fiscal year to look over budgeted, but that it was all in the timing of receipt/payment of the insurance bill.  He stated that everything was generally on budget and that the Village is in good cash position at fiscal year end with $80,135. He reported that there is $2,000 of unexpended Powell Bill money, which is an approximate figure at present, as he will not have the exact figure until the audit is complete by auditors some time in September.  He expects that the Village will be receiving approximately $10,000 more in Powell Bill money in the next fiscal year 2004/2005. 

Mayor Davis announced that he will post the year-end financial report on the village web site.  Mayor Davis called for any discussion or comments from the floor, there being none, he asked for a motion to approve the financial report as submitted.  Motion was made and seconded to accept the financial report for fiscal period 7/01/03-6/30/04 (Burton/Iobst), motion passed unanimously.

 Mayor Davis recognized Mrs. Hooper.  She stated she had been out of the country and had missed the last economic development commission meeting, but reported that at a prior meeting all had been quite busy and that the commission is trying to encourage the businesses that are in the area.  The commission was given a tour of the Balsam Mountain Preserve, and that the Preserve is doing wonderful things, they are trying to buy locally and hire locally.  She touched on the subject of the Greenway Committee and that a meeting is scheduled Tuesday evening and she hoped to have a more complete report next month, she thought that Jim Wallace might be able to speak to the subject, however, Dr. Wallace stated that he had also missed the last meeting but he would be attending tomorrow and would be able to report at the next council meeting.

 Gene Tweedy was called on by Mayor Davis to report on the road situation regarding the potholes on North Country Club Drive.  Mr. Tweedy reported that he had contacted four different pavers, and that no one wanted to bid.  The Mayor recognized Mrs. Angela Davis, resident of North Country Club Dr.  She questioned whether there were reasons why there were no bids.  Mr. Tweedy responded that one paving contractor did not think he could compete, but his personal opinion was that filling pot holes was just too time consuming for them and they have too much work right now and they are just not willing to work with the village at present.  A short discussion on competitive bids ensued with no action.

 Sue Burton, Liaison/Western Carolina, reported that the liaison committee will meet the end of August in the week before classes begin.  She reported that she did complete the assignment of obtaining replacement 911 road signs for Saxony Dr. and Labrador Lane and will be contacting a couple of residents from those roads to assist in putting them up.  The Mayor stated that NCDOT will be contacted about several items in the next few weeks, one specifically to repairing the road sign that directs the Summit/North/South Country Club Drives.

 Mayor Davis called on Joe Roman to report for the planning board.  Mr. Roman reported that as the council is aware, the planning board is working on a future land-use plan that will help support and strengthened the activities of the council and zoning, and that he is happy to say that progress is being made.  The Planning Board is working with the State Department of Community Affairs in map making, and with Western Carolina University for student assistance with the process to ensure maps are correctly listing all property, and environmental considerations. He stated the Planning Board is in the process of formulating a vision and core value statement and they hope to finalize it for final print at the upcoming meeting of the planning board.  Mr. Roman presented an example of a map and how the vision and core values will be stated on the map, and that the board is hopeful to have the land-use map ready some time in the fall.  Mr. Roman stated the Planning Board will meet Monday, July 19 at 7:00 at the Jackson County Recreation Center and anyone who would like to attend was welcome.

 Councilperson Joe Rossano was called on to report for the road committee.  He reported that he and Gene Tweedy have been working on the road committee for at least three years, and that they are very aware of the problems on North and South Country Club Drives.  He stated they are a hazard to both pedestrians and traffic alike, one reason being is that the students who live at the head of both roads tend to be a little more careless than the village residents in how they drive on the roads.  He went on to report that the committee has attempted patching potholes as well as paving extended stretches on both North and South Country Club Drives, and that he thinks paving extended stretches is the way to go, because per square foot it is less expensive and it holds up better.  He made recommendation to obtain bids to pave extended stretches on North and South Country Club Drives, and pay for the paving by raising the mil rate on a one shot basis for this endeavor only, and then to lower it upon completion.  Discussion was held that in order to raise the mil rate and to pass an amended budget, the village must hold a public hearing and there would not be enough time to get this done in time to include with the county’s tax billings.  Mayor Davis reported that he will be meeting with Bear Track Paving to discuss hot-topping, which is a way a lot of secondary roads are fixed. He said the potholes would be filled and then a thin layer of asphalt with gravel embedded in it will be applied and that the road would be smooth and would keep the speed down because it is a semi-gravel road. It is less expensive than standard paving and would last longer than just filling potholes.  Councilperson, Sue Burton said she thought that Jim Wallace was checking into the State taking over, he responded that he has been working on it for three years and that DOT is a bureaucracy, and that they are working on it but getting nowhere and that at this time he does not know what is going to happen.  The thought that because the village is a municipality it would have priority over a subdivision, but there is no indication of what is being planned by the DOT at this point.  Ways to slow down traffic was discussed, with no decision.  Mayor Davis stated he hopes to have more information at the next meeting. 

Mayor Davis recognized Angela Davis.  Mrs. Davis stated that a petition she had might not now be necessary in light of the aforementioned information.  She read a petition from 19 residents of North Country Club Drive who request the Council return to one of the priorities at the founding of the Village, which is road maintenance.  Mrs. Davis stated she was in agreement with Councilperson Rossano about the condition of the roads.  She gave out a letter of historical background to Council members regarding priorities.  Mrs. Davis commented that since she had taken care of the roads for so many years that it would be a shame to throw bad money after good money and do little band-aid jobs, and that the very least the council should do is a good job rather than just filling pot holes.  Mayor Davis accepted Mrs. Davis’s comments and said that his thought was to at least get the pot holes filled before this meeting so that some of the safety concerns would have been addressed, but now he is more hopeful about the hot topping method.

Councilperson Dick Iobst mentioned that there may be legal proceedings coming up, and that it may be necessary to increase the mil rate to pay for roads because there is not enough money being generated in the case of legal fees.  Discussion and opinions ensued regarding the feelings of residents on North Country Club Drive, and about ad valorem, and Powell bill monies, and zoning, and what has been done on both North and South Country Club Drive.  Councilperson Jim Wallace commented that less money would be spent to fill in potholes until such time as the NCDOT scenario is resolved.  Councilperson Rossano stressed that there are good reasons for repairing the roads now, one reason being the feelings of residents via petition present to the council.  Several items were discussed from the many potholes to the problems with students who are speeding and their disregard of the residents and families in the village to owners who may be renting against zoning.  Mrs. Hooper spoke saying that Forest Hills should speak as one village.

 Mayor Davis requested whether the board, after receiving bids, would be amenable to raising taxes for a specific goal and for a specific length of time to reach that goal.  He stated that, firstly, the Village was incorporated for zoning and that zoning was the primary purpose for incorporating, and, so far, the majority of that has been accomplished.  Secondly, roads have been a priority and to say that we have neglected the roads is to lose sight of the fact that approximately $40,000 have been put into the roads to do what could be done.  He went on to say that it takes approximately $20,000 in overhead to run the Village, there is Powell and Ad Valorem money coming in, but there is a possibility of a lawsuit with Summitt Apartments that the attorney says will cost a minimum of at least $50,000.  Mayor Davis commented on the need to prioritize in the budget and on a perspective of why the Village is where it is, and what the council is trying to accomplish.

Mayor Davis reported that he received an e-mail from one of the residents of the Village regarding complaints of litter, noise, and indifference against tenants at the connector road that are owned by Rick Bennett.  Discussion ensued and consensus was for Mayor Davis and Councilperson Sue Burton to get together with Mr. Bennett.  Mayor Davis stated that proposed ordinances have been revised and that they will be presented at the next council meeting in an open meeting on August 2, and that these ordinances should give leverage to enforcement.  He stated that prior to the August meeting, copies of the revised ordinances would be posted at the Hunter Library and the Sylva Public Library, and University Inn Lobby.  The Village Clerk will contact the Sylva Herald to publish notice of the public meeting of August 2 regarding the revised ordinances.  The notice is to be published for two consecutive weeks prior to the meeting date.

 The Mayor announced that a meeting date, time, and place for the Zoning Board of Adjustments, which will be a public meeting, needs to be confirmed. The Mayor will check with the attorney to confirm the date in order to get it to the legal ads in time.  He will also check with the Board’s attorney regarding the proceedings of the meeting, and responsibilities of the board and attorney.

Under old business, Councilperson Rossano asked the status with the improvements to the front entrance.  Councilperson Jim Wallace explained that there has been a delay in obtaining the paperwork for the person who will be doing the work, as he has requested an official deed showing the exact amount easements and right-of-ways.  Mrs. Burton stated her views with regard to priorities and matching funds with grant monies.  Mayor Davis stated that there is a timetable involved against the Greenway involvement, and the amount of money to be matched is unknown at this time.  A point was made that the grant money was dedicated to the front entrance project only and could not be used for anything else.

Under new business, Mayor Davis, requested if anyone might know of someone who does grant research and grant writing.  The names of Ian Pritchard and Larry Kolenbrander, and Jay Denton were suggested, all of whom will be contacted.

Mayor Davis asked for any further business from the floor, there being none, he called for a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m. (Rossano/Iobst).  Motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully Submitted by:

Ruth Roman, Town Clerk