June Minutes-2005

Village of Forest Hills Council Meeting

University Inn


Monday, June 6, 2005


The regular meeting of the Forest Hills Village Council was called to order at 7:04pm by Mayor Jim Davis.


In attendance were:  Mayor Jim Davis; Councilpersons Dick Iobst & Joe Rossano; Irene Hooper, Jane Macias & Ian.


Mayor Davis gave the invocation.


Mayor Davis advised that the Council was meeting without a quorum & so arrangements have been made to continue the meeting on June 13, 2005 at 7:00pm.  At that time the agenda will continue with an open meeting for comments on the Fiscal Year Budget for 2005-06.  However, matters that do not require voting by the Board will be handled tonight, one of these is a report by Irene Hooper. 


Mrs. Hooper reported though she has not been present at the meetings, she has been involved in various issues that concern both the Village of Forest Hills & Jackson County.  At the moment the issue of the Gun Club has been foremost in her agenda, she’s attended various Jackson County meeting to keep abreast of the many issues concerning us.  She is still working with the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative, fifteen million dollars, earmarked for Western North Carolina over the next ten years involving twenty-five counties.  She was invited to participate in the Gateway Training to Balance Development & Nature held in Asheville.  She along with Linda Cable, County Planner, represented Jackson County.  Many non-profit organizations & foundations were present.  A young lady for the Forestry Service volunteered to come & speak to the Greenway Committee & assist with grant writing.  She has a movie she would love to share with the Village concerning the balance of nature & economic development. 


Mrs. Hooper asked Mayor Davis where we stand with the front entrance to the Village.  Mayor Davis said that the designer, Mr. Roger Turk, would be at the July Council meeting to bring some drawings.  The Village project is next on his agenda. 


Mayor Davis reported that somehow, & he believes it’s the county’s fault, he did not receive the request for grants.  There’s a yearly municipal grant divided among the applying municipalities & since no one but Dillsboro applied last year they received $17,000 of the $20,000 available.  Two years ago we requested $20,000, unawares that it would be divided & we received $3,000 last year.  Last year we never received notice of the application process.  This year the due date is in Oct. & he’ll be sure that this does not pass us by. 


Mayor Davis reported that he has been talking with Mr. James Hooper about the development of his 13 acres.  He wants to help The Village & has ideas of a possible small professional office building (doctor/lawyer), something that would be very light in vehicular traffic.  There was talk of a motel, but that has been dismissed.  Another idea is to black top it & provide parking.  He also owns about 4 or 5 acres above us & would be interested in putting in high value townhouse/condominiums for professionals.  Mr. Iobst stated that this area is becoming a key area west of Asheville.  Mayor Davis stated that this of course is a Board issue & we would have to approve the plans & stated purpose of use could not change to student housing.  Mayor Davis reported that the KA house is in foreclosure & taxes have not been paid since 2000.  It is his perception that a section of the house is in The Village ETJ limits & if that’s the case would we have say in it’s use.  Mr. Iobst said that yes we would have full say or it will violate the zoning ordinance.  Mayor Davis said it’s possible that WCU would be interested in acquiring the property for student housing.  Discussion followed concerning the conditions of the KA house & the surrounding property.  Mayor Davis continued the discussion of the housing expansion in & around WCU by the university & private developers.  Mr. Iobst reported that Mr. James Epply has contacted him about building 350 units behind Valhalla.  Mr. Epply asked to attend the next Council meeting & Mr. Iobst informed him that since it was an open meeting for the 2005-06 budget that it would be better if he attended the July meeting, to which he has agreed.  Mr. Iobst has informed Mr. Epply that he strongly opposes the idea, but is free to speak with the Council. 


Mayor Davis asked Mrs. Hooper what the outcome was at the EDC concerning the Director.  She reported that nothing has been said whether he’s staying or not.  They are still meeting & have about three companies that are interested in coming into the area, but only if they can be near WCU.  Discussion followed concerning rising property values due the acquisitions being made the university & others.  Mr. Iobst brought up the litigation before the Appellate Court in Raleigh, concerning The Summit Apartments.  Mayor Davis advised that this is pretty much a landmark case as far as Forest Hills is concerned & if we win it will discourage this type of development in the Village.  Mr. Rossano advised that we have received the first bill from our attorneys in Raleigh concerning the litigation with The Summit Apartments.


Mayor Davis then addressed Mr. Ian asking if he had any concerns to bring before the Council.  Mr. Ian advised that his main reason for attending was to bring attention to the intersection at the pool of The University Inn.  Even though STOP signs have been placed various times, they are continuously taken down & the accident near misses continue.  He proposes that a 3-way STOP be installed along with road markings & that hopefully one or more of the signs will remain standing.  Mayor Davis advises that a new STOP sign has been ordered & that there are plans to install another STOP sign on the road coming down from the KA house.  Mr. Iobst suggested that this issue be brought up at an upcoming meeting for further discussion.


Mr. Ian also brought up the suggestion of street lighting.  He has contacted WCU Utility about the prospect of installing lights (such as those at various private homes) on their poles.  WCU Utility will agree to install the lights on a two-year contract for approximately $75 month.  This will provide more safety & security for all The Village residents.  Mrs. Hooper mentioned that when she moved in it was so very dark on the bend at her home that she had them put in a light, even though she would have preferred it to be closer to the road.  Mr. Ian suggested that these be installed before the students return & before the daylight hours get shorter.  Mayor Davis mentioned that though everyone is concerned about safety & security there are some that would not be in favor of the lighting. 


Mr. Ian wanted more information on how The Village funds the Fire Dept., Mayor Davis advised that The Village pay $2400 yearly to the department.  Mr. Ian suggests that in the future The Village would be well advised if they created a separate Fire Tax.  Mayor Davis & Mr. Iobst advised that there is a separate line item on the budget for the fire department.  Mr. Ian said that this would be an additional separate tax set at whatever mileage rate The Village designated for the fire department. Discussion followed concerning the pros & cons of this. 


Mayor Davis asked if there were any further issues before he continued the meeting to next week.  Mr. Iobst wanted it on record that Mr. Brad Mann contacted him a developer from Atlanta.   Mr. James Epply who owns Catamount Hollow, 20 acres, originally contacted him about developing & was informed that this is zoned R-1.  Mr. Epply was aware both hearings & was informed he had 2 months to sue.  Mr. Iobst then informed him that he could sell his property in 2-acre lots.  Mr. Epply intends to put 250 – 350 strip houses on that property.  Mr. Iobst told him that he was strongly opposed as the Zoning Administrator & that he would vote against it in the Council meeting.  Mr. Iobst advised Mr. Epply that he doubted he would have any support for this undertaking from the Council members.  Mr. Epply wanted to attend this meeting, but was told that he could not bring up his issue until the July 11th meeting, due to the public hearing meeting on the Fiscal Year 2006 budget.  A few days later Mr. Brad Mann called & was informed about the zoning ordinance for The Village, to which Mr. Mann expressed that this may change his decision to purchase Mr. Epply’s property.  Mr. Iobst invited him to attend the July 11th meeting with Mr. Epply.


Mr. Rossano brought up the issue of the Village Clerk for the next meeting, since it was originally proposed that two people share alternately the responsibility.  Ms. Macias agreed that she would attend the following meeting on June 13th.


Mayor Davis acknowledged The University Inn for extending an invitation to the Council to hold meetings at their location without compensation. 


At 7:50 PM Mayor Davis continued the meeting to June 13th at 7:00 PM.


Tape transcribed and submitted by:  Jane R. Macias