January Minutes-2005

Council Meeting Minutes
Village of Forest Hills
January 3, 2005

Mayor Jim Davis called the regular January meeting of the Council of the Village of Forest Hills to order at 7:02 p.m., January 3, 2005.  This meeting was convened at the University Inn in the Village.

Council Members present were: Sue Burton, Richard Iobst, Joe Rossano and Jim Wallace.

Others present were: Sherry Wilson, Court Recorder; Robert Rowland, Zoning Board of Adjustment Member; Lee Budahl, incoming Zoning Board of Adjustment Member; Charlie Bauder, reporter for WRGC Radio; Carey King, reporter for the Sylva Herald; Jim Weir, Finance Officer; Evelyn Rooks-Weir, Assistant Clerk; Jay Coward, Attorney for the Village; Charlie Clement, Attorney for Summit Apartments of Cullowhee; Vann Stayton, one of four owners of Summit Apartments of Cullowhee; Irene Hooper, EDC Village representative; Charlie Burton; and Trish Davis.

Mayor Davis opened the meeting with an invocation.  The first item on the agenda was approval of minutes of the December meeting.  Copies had been distributed to the Council members prior to this meeting for their reading.  Councilwoman Sue Burton moved approval of the minutes with the correction of the spelling of Charlie Bauder's name.  Councilman Rossano seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
Mayor Davis then turned the meeting over to Councilman Joe Rossano who chaired the Public Hearing of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.  Councilman Rossano called the Public Hearing to order and turned the floor over to Attorney Coward.  Attorney Coward presented orally a suggested amended decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment regarding the Summit at Cullowhee Apartments application for a building permit that was filed March 19, 2004.  The initial decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, made on September 1, 2004, was to uphold the decision of the Village Zoning Administrator, Richard Iobst, to deny the building permit applied for by Summit at Cullowhee Apartment, LLC.
The suggested amended decision was to allow Summit Apartments at Cullowhee to build a fourth apartment building on a 4.5 acre tract, but deny its plan to build fourteen additional buildings on an adjacent 10 acre tract.  After some discussion involving Zoning Board of Adjustment Members, Attorney Coward and Attorney Clement, a vote on whether to accept the suggested amended decision presented by Attorney Coward was taken.  Zoning Board of Adjustment Members voting for the amended decision were: Sue Burton, Jim Davis, Robert Rowland, and Joe Rossano.  Zoning Board of Adjustment Member Jim Wallace voted against acceptance of the amended decision.
The Public Hearing of the Zoning Board of Adjustment was adjourned at approximately 7:40 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m., Mayor Davis called the Village Council  into session.  He asked Finance Officer, Jim Weir to present the December, 2004 financial report.  Jim Weir distributed a copy of the financial report to each Council member.  He called to the attention of the Council that during the last two months of the calendar year, the Village has a larger income due to Jackson County's collection of property taxes at that time.  A slightly over nine-thousand dollar ($9,000) payment was made by Jackson County to the Village in December for collection of taxes by Jackson County during November.  Weir noted that another large revenue item will occur in January for property taxes collected by the county in December.  Finance Officer Weir called attention to a second item of note, that being a large expenditure for Summit Apartments at Cullowhee litigation.  That amount was eleven-thousand, eight-hundred and twenty-five dollars ($11,825).
Finance Officer Weir expressed his concern to the Council again regarding the rapid depletion of funds.  He pointed out that the large litigation expenditure has essentially depleted the Village's income from ad valorem taxes.  He also noted a balance of funds in the Village treasury of fifty-two thousand dollars ($52,000).  Weir pointed out to the Council that he questions expenditure of seventeen-thousand dollars ($17,000) from Powell Bill funds.  He is not sure whether this seventeen-thousand dollars ($17,000) has to be paid from general funds.  If this is the case, then there is only thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) in the treasury.  Mayor Davis reminded the Council that the ad valorem tax payment coming in January will boost the treasury a bit.  Weir estimated the payment of ad valorem taxes due in January would be five-to-ten thousand dollars ($5,000 to $10,000).  Mayor Davis asked Jim Weir to check into the expenditure of the Powell Bill funds to be sure that the Village is adhering to the law regarding the use of these funds.  Jim Weir stated that end-of-year accounting would abide by the regulations.
Councilman Wallace asked, "Can we legally spend the Powell Bill money before we have it?"  Weir answered that financial statements do not show monies in accounts such as Powell Bill, ad valorem, etc., but simply income or expenditure.  Mayor Davis asked Weir to check on this with the auditors and report back to the Council.  Jim Weir noted that he had anticipated having the auditor's report to present to the Council at this meeting, but it has not been delivered to him at this date.  He expects that he will be able to present it at the regular February Council meeting.
Councilman Wallace asked where the distributed financial report says that the Council has thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000)?  Weir explained that the bottom line shows fifty-two thousand dollars ($52,000) cash on hand, and seventeen-thousand ($17,000) deficient Powell Bill funds.  The net result is thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000).  Councilman Iobst pointed out that the thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) is the amount of cash on hand because the Powell Bill funds likely will have to be replaced.  Weir agreed that he thinks that the Council will have to say that the monies spent were taken from income derived from taxes rather than the Powell Bill.  Weir assured the Council that he will get a definitive answer to this question before the end of the fiscal year.
Jim Weir pointed out to the Council that the auditors have already asked him to relay to the Council the need for the Village of Forest Hills to have a policy statement regarding conflict of interest.  Weir shared with the Council an example of a Conflict of Interest Policy Statement that was provided by the auditors.  Councilman Rossano asked Jim Weir if the Council needs to approve acceptance of the policy statement presented.  Weir responded that he thought minutes of this meeting should reflect approval of the Conflict of Interest Policy Statement.  Councilman Iobst raised a question about what is meant by the term, "nominal value"?  Weir answered that attorneys could argue these points, but he suggested an arbitrary amount such as one-hundred dollars ($100) might be thought of as a nominal value.  Councilman Wallace asked for clarification of a phrase regarding "...selling of services of Council members...".  Weir stated that this did not relate to reimbursement for expenses incurred by Council members.  Councilman Wallace moved that the "Conflict of Interest Policy Statement" provided by the auditor be adopted by the Council of the Village of Forest Hills.  Councilman Iobst seconded this motion.  The motion passed unanimously.  The "Conflict of Interest Policy Statement", adopted by the Council of the Village of Forest Hills is:

Village of Forest Hills Conflict of Interest Policy Statement

Council members and employees are expected to avoid engaging in any conduct that creates, or gives the appearance of creating a "conflict of interest" with job responsibilities.
An employee of a member of the Council will not engage in selling goods or services to the Village and will not have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any activity that conflicts with his or her responsibility in the Village.
No gifts from any person or group desiring or doing business with the Village will be accepted by an employee or Council member except for nominally valued items.
The Council recognizes that some employees or Council members, in their own time, may pursue additional compensation.
Disclosure of a possible conflict of interest shall be made to the Council prior to Council's accepting of the possible "conflict of interest" transaction.  The Council may then waive the conflict of interest policy of the Council.

Council Iobst moved and Councilman Wallace seconded approval of the Financial Report presented by Jim Weir for the month of December, 2004.  Motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Davis asked for a report from Irene Hooper, Economic Development Commission representative.  Mrs. Hooper had no report, but stated that the Commission would meet later in January of 2005.

No representative of the Village Planning Board was present to report.

Councilwoman Burton had no report because the Village/University Liaison Committee has not met since the last Council Meeting.  Mayor Davis did invite Councilwoman Burton to attend a planned meeting of SPARK (Alcoholic Environment Liaison Committee).  Mayor Davis will brief Burton with details about this meeting.

Mayor Davis called for Old Business.  Councilwoman Burton presented a problem to the Council of a littered yard at one of the Motel Condos.  She asked what could be done about this?  Mayor Davis answered that because there is an ordinance against such an environment in the Village, the landlord could be contacted to eliminate this litter at Unit Four.  Councilman Iobst will go through the realty company that manages the property to learn who owns this property.  Then he will write a letter and cite him/her for violation of an ordinance.

Councilman Wallace asked about street signs?  Mayor Davis responded that he had not given Councilwoman Burton any list of street signs to be ordered.

Councilman Wallace announced that he had not heard from Roger Turk about the landscaping of the entrance to the Village of Forest Hills.  Mr. Turk indicated that in January he would be contacting Councilman Wallace regarding this project.  Councilman Rossano suggested that other landscapers be contacted for this project.  A discussion regarding the entrance landscaping project and the present appearance of the entrance followed. 

Mayor Davis called for New Business.  He announced to the Council that Councilman Iobst, on advice from Richard Ducker  from Chapel Hill, has tendered his resignation from the Village Zoning Board of Adjustment.  Councilwoman Burton moved that, with "Thanks" to Councilman Iobst for his service on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Councilman Iobst's resignation be accepted.  Councilman Wallace seconded the motion which passed with no discussion.  Mayor Davis thanked Councilman Iobst for his outstanding service to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and asked for his continued service as the Zoning Administrator.

Mayor Davis announced that Lee Budahl has been recruited as a replacement for Councilman Iobst on the Zoning Board of Adjustment.  Councilwoman Burton moved acceptance of Lee Budahl to serve as a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Dick Iobst.  Councilman Wallace seconded this motion which passed with no discussion.  Mr. Budahl was welcomed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Village.  Councilman Wallace will accompany Mr. Budahl to the Jackson County Court House in the near future so that he can be sworn in to serve on the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the Village of Forest Hills.  Councilman Iobst announced an upcoming class on zoning issues to be conducted by Dr. Richard Ducker on January 11 at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.  He moved that each Zoning Board Member and the Zoning Administrator be encouraged to attend this class and that the Council pay the registration fee for each attendee.  Councilman Wallace seconded this motion.  Motion passed.  Zoning Board of Adjustment members who plan to attend are: Lee Budahl, Robert Rowland, and Jim Wallace.  Zoning Administrator Iobst will also attend.

Mayor Davis announced a grant opportunity coming up in March.  These funds are for parks or recreational facilities and are being distributed through grants that must be submitted by March 31, 2005.  A discussion of grant writers followed.  Davis suggested Councilman Iobst contact a grant writer in Hillsboro, North Carolina for assistance.

Councilwoman Burton announced that the Village is to be the host in April for the next meeting of the Jackson County Multi-Jurisdictional Committee.  At this meeting, each municipality reports on successful and unsuccessful projects.  The host council is encouraged to have all members present.  Councilwoman Burton suggested a number of possible meeting locations.  Details of this meeting will be given at a later date.

Mrs. Irene Hooper announced that her term of office on the Jackson County Economic Development Commission is nearing completion.  She is willing to continue to serve in this role if it is the wishes of the Council.  Councilman Iobst moved that Irene Hooper represent the Village during the next three years on the Jackson County Economic Development Commission.  Councilwoman Burton seconded this motion which passed unanimously.  Councilman Iobst asked that the minutes reflect a hearty, "Thank you!" to Mrs. Irene Hooper for her service to the Village as mayor for two terms and as Jackson County Economic Development Commission Representative during the past three years.

Councilman Wallace asked about the status of meeting space for the Village Council?  Mayor Davis has been unable to talk with the Recreation Center personnel during the holidays, but he was told that the center is busier with recreation activities.  A discussion about meeting space followed.  Councilwoman Burton volunteered to get information about possible meeting spaces and report this to the Council.

There being no further business, Mayor Davis called for a motion to adjourn.  Councilman Iobst moved that the meeting adjourn and Councilman Wallace seconded it.  Motion passed and the meeting adjourned at 8:23 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by:

Evelyn Rooks-Weir, Assistant Clerk