Forest Hills Council Meeting 10-6-03


Village of Forest Hills Council Meeting

Monday, October 6, 2003

7:00 PM

Jackson County Recreation Center


The regular meeting of the Village of Forest Hills Council was called to order by Mayor Jim Davis at 7:10 PM.  Present were councilpersons Dick Iobst, Sue Burton and Joe Rossano.  Jim Wallace is out of the country this evening.  Attorney Coward is presently at court.  Also attending were Jim Weir, Financial Officer; Mary Ann Budahl, Clerk; landlord Rick Bennett, and several Village residents.  Mayor Davis opened the meeting with a short prayer.


The agenda was distributed.  The minutes of the preceding meeting were approved as written.  (Iobst, Rossano)  The Mayor then introduced Rick Bennett.  He and a partner have who represented a group of investors that has recently purchased two quadruplex and two duplex apartment buildings on North Country Club Drive, as well as four log cabins near the end of North and South Country Club Drives all of which are rented to students.  He declared that he and the investors will be good neighbors to Forest Hills, having stressed to their tenants that they want their properties to remain attractive and an asset to Forest Hills.  He can be reached through Cullowhee Real Estate, and his number is in the phone book.  He stated that the managers pick up trash three times per week, and they fine their tenants when they don’t pick up their own trash.


Jim Weir distributed the financial report from the previous month.  It showed an ad valorem taxes and interest income of $1331.  Paid out was $2400 to the Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department as an annual contribution, and $2200 paid to the accounting firm for the annual audit.  Jim also mentioned that on October 1 he received $9300 from the Powell Bill fund which is approximately 10% lower than the $10,500 we had received in previous years due to the overall decrease in the economy.  The balance of funds is $66,359.  The financial report was accepted unanimously (Iobst, Rossano) 


Mayor Davis declared that the next regular meeting of the Village of Forest Hills Council will be held at the Recreation Center at 7:00 PM on November 10, 2003 instead of the usual first Monday of the month, due to the election being held on November 4 in our meeting room.  Appropriate notices will be placed in the newspaper by the Clerk.


Mayor Davis stated that Councilperson Sue Burton has asked that a liaison committee be established to work with WCU in town-college matters to attempt to improve relations between the Village and WCU.  A motion to this effect was made and passed. (Burton, Iobst)  The committee will consist of representatives from the Village Council, the landlords, the WCU student council and from WCU.  Sue Burton has volunteered to represent Forest Hills and she will see to getting this committee up and running.


Gene Tweedy reported for the Planning Board.  He presented the Council with copies of the proposed Newsletter which is being prepared by Ruth Roman, Joe Roman, Ruth Shuler, Irene Hooper, and others.  Motion to commend the Planning Board and the newsletter staff for their diligent work on this project passed unanimously (Iobst, Burton)  Joe Rossano, representing the Council agreed to write an article for the Newsletter which the staff hopes to mail out to residents in the next week.  Other suggestions as to content were forthcoming from the Council.  Ruth stated that they envision a quarterly mailing.


The brush-cutting project on North Country Club Road was briefly discussed.  Mayor Davis asked Gene Tweedy to obtain a written contract from Mr. Phillips.  Gene has volunteered to accompany Mr. Phillips to oversee the process and to protect any ornamentals from the cutting. 


Gene Tweedy also asked about the grey house on North Country Club Drive that is presently housing numerous people whose cars are parked randomly on the property.  Dick Iobst stated that he has sent a letter by registered mail to Mr. and Mrs. Mike Clark, owners of the property, advising them of the zoning ordinance that prohibits this activity. 


Motion to thank and to commend Gene Tweedy and Joe Rossano for their work to bring about the highly successful connector road project to its conclusion passed unanimously.  (Burton, Iobst)  The 520 feet long, 16 feet wide roadway is smooth gravel with hydro-seeded grass on the banks.

Gene Tweedy will look into the matter of rainwater running over the berm and down Ida Jenkins’ driveway since the paving was done on North Country Club Drive.


Mayor Davis asked for discussion regarding the Village’s position on the proposed Southern Loop.  The Towns of Sylva, Webster and Dillsboro have passed a resolution and are asking for Forest Hills support in requesting NCDOT “to honor its transportation planning mission by participating in a community-based forum for redesigning NC Hwy 107 that will maximize traffic efficiency and accommodate all of the communities’ transportation needs.”  The resolution further asks that NCDOT remove the Southern Loop bypass from its long-range plan, that no new bypass plans be adopted, that all activity related to planning, design and acquisition for a Southern Loop Bypass be terminated, that NCDOT develop a comprehensive plan for improving existing roads as alternatives to the bypass, and that a comprehensive study of Smart Growth traffic alternatives for both local and through traffic within the town of Sylva be undertaken as soon as possible.  After considerable discussion, a motion to support this resolution (Burton, Rossano) passed with a 2-1 vote.


Elizabeth St. John, part-owner and developer of some 500 student rental units on Savannah Road has requested that the Village of Forest Hills build sidewalks, curb and gutter along the road near her apartments using the Small Towns Grant which allows certain improvements to be requested of the DOT within a two-mile radius of the Village borders.  Either Forest Hills or WCU would have to sign an agreement to construct and maintain the sidewalk.  In order to construct curb and gutter, additional drainage pipes and catch basins would have to be constructed.  Right-of-way would have to be acquired on the South side of the road if DOT does not now have deeded right-of-way.  The matter was discussed in some depth, and eventually a motion to suggest to Ms. St. John that she look to WCU for support for this project (Iobst, Burton) passed unanimously.  Dick Iobst and Jim Davis will undertake to notify her of our decision.


Motion to allow Mary Ann Budahl to explore various opportunities for a web site and report to the Council next month passed unanimously (Iobst, Burton).


Mayor Davis announced that the Jackson County Municipal Grant Program that assists municipalities of the County with the implementation of “worthy projects that will directly benefit . . .all the citizens of Jackson County” is presently accepting applications from the municipalities for projects under $20,000.  Several projects were discussed.  Motion to submit a grant at Mayor Davis’ discretion passed unanimously (Iobst, Burton). 


Motion to table discussion of the Zoning Ordinance amendments until the next meeting due to the lateness of the hour passed unanimously.  (Iobst, Rossano)  Also to be discussed at the November meeting is the Village Holiday party. 


Several incidents of vandalism involving destroyed mail boxes and newspaper boxes, a broken fence on Clarence Pressley’s property, a stolen barbeque grill, a moped stolen from the University Inn late at night, a stolen riding lawnmower, etc.  Residents are urged to maintain a constant vigil for any suspicious behavior or incident, and to report it to the Jackson County Sheriff’s office immediately.  A diligent neighborhood watch program will go a long way to preserving the safety of our Village.


Ron Stephens, giving his point of view, described the incident of his removing the red Jeep that had been parked on the roadside near the University Place apartments for several months after conversing with Dick Iobst and feeling that he had been given authorization by the Council to remove the vehicle.  He stated that he subsequently learned that the vehicle indeed, had not been abandoned and that he was in danger of being arrested for grand theft-auto.  He stated that there was no written authorization or contract between himself and the Village; he acted on just the conversation with Councilman Iobst.  Mr. Stephens towed the vehicle off for the salvage value of the vehicle, stating that the tires were worth perhaps $300-$400 in themselves.  The vehicle was later reported stolen by its owner, but he has not pressed charges as of the date of this meeting.  Mr. Stephens stated that the understanding between himself and Dr. Iobst was that he would let the Jeep stay on his property for about six months.  However, it became an obstacle and so he decided to pay to get it running, realizing that he was doing so on his own initiative, and by doing so, he was taking a risk.  He said he surmised from his conversation with Dr. Iobst that he could treat it as his own property.  He also stated that he found the title to the vehicle in the glove box when he went to clean up the vehicle a week or two after taking it up to his property.  The police instructed Mr. Stephens that the Village had no right to authorize the removal of the vehicle.  Mr. Stephens has requested that the Village reimburse him for his expenses for these reasons:  he believed that the vehicle had been abandoned; he believed that the Village of Forest Hills had the authority to authorize the removal of the vehicle; and he believed that the Village had gone through the process of validating that it had been abandoned.  Dick Iobst asked why Mr. Stephens had not notified the owner of the vehicle or the Village of Forest Hills when he found the title in the glove box.  Mr. Stephens stated that he assumed that the Village had tried to contact the owner since the license plate was still on the car, as well as a WCU parking sticker and a state inspection sticker; and had failed to make contact.  He assumed that the Village had validated that the Jeep had been abandoned.  He agreed that he, as well as the Village had “messed up” by not contacting the owner.  He presented a bill from Eric’s One Stop Garage dated 7/3/2003 for repairs on the Jeep in the amount of $529.17 and he is asking the Village for reimbursement. 


At this point, it was 9:00 and Mayor Davis intervened, therefore, and asked that this matter be tabled until the next meeting since the Council is obliged to vacate the premises by this hour.  Therefore the motion to adjourn and resume discussion at the next Council meeting on November 10 was passed unanimously (Rossano, Iobst).  The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 PM.


Please note that the next Village Council meeting will take place on Monday, November 10, 2003 due to the fact that Nov. 4 is a voting day, and the Recreation Center will not be available. 


Mary Ann Budahl