April 2024

Village of Forest Hills Council Meeting
Tuesday, April 2, 2024 – 7:00 pm
Forest Hills Assembly Hall, Cullowhee NC


The following members of the Council were present:

Mayor Marcia Almond

Councilmember Robert Kehrberg

Councilmember Larry Ingersoll

Councilmember Nilofer Couture

Councilmember Daniel Shields

The following non-Council members were Present:

Stephanie Gibson, Clerk

Sharon Stovall, Resident

Debbie Rowland, Resident

Jack Brown, Resident

Ron & Rochelle Mau, Residents

Skip Almond, Resident

Ann Novitski, Resident

Zavala Capital, (Omar Zavala, Oscar Zavala, and Jeff T. Velastegui)


  1. Call to order: at 7:00pm Mayor Almond called the meeting to order. 

     2.  Announcements:

Reminder – Please silence cell phones for meeting. 

     3.  Approval of Agenda: Councilmember Shields made a motion to approve the agenda, Councilmember Ingersoll seconded the motion, unanimously approved. 

     4.  Approval of Meeting Minutes for March 05, 2024, Regular Council Meeting:(All meeting minutes are posted on the Forest Hills website once approved.) Councilmember Couture made a motion to approve the meeting minutes for March 05, 2024, Councilmember Shields seconded the motion, unanimously approved. 

     5.  Acceptance of Financial Report & Checklist for the month of March 2024: (All financial reports are posted on the Forest Hills website once approved.) Councilmember Couture made a motion to accept the financial report, Councilmember Shields seconded the motion, unanimously approved.

Stephanie noted that the Council would need to review the draft budget to be presented at the May meeting and note any changes needed.  Mayor Almond said that she would like to increase the funding for travel/workshops.

     6.  Zavala Capital Group Presentation:  Zavala Capital Group owners, Omar Zavala, Oscar Zavala, and Jeff Velastegui who are purchasing the University Inn presented a slide show of current properties that they own and have renovated and provided background information about their company.  The company was founded in 2015.  They shared that they have acquired 4,167 units, transacted 3,435 units, and sold thirty-three properties across four states.  Two of the owners attended Rabun Gap Nacoochee School and have ties to the area.  They were drawn to the area because as the economy continues to grow the challenge is a shortage of suitable housing options for the growing work force.  They plan to repurpose the outdated motel rooms into long-term rental accommodations.  They will renovate the exterior and interior of these units.  To ensure a high-quality living environment, their leasing process will adhere to strict criteria.  Prospective residents will undergo rigorous criminal and financial background checks, as well as provide evidence of a stable source of income, among other requirements.  Qualification criteria will include a minimum 6-month employment history, minimum income requirement, minimum credit score, criminal record & background review (no felonies) and they must have no prior evictions.  Their approach is time effective, by repurposing existing hotel rooms, it reduces timelines associated with new developments.  They estimate a 6–8-week turnaround time.

They currently own or are under contract to own the following properties in the area, Pack Street, Canton, Hearth and Home in Waynesville, Relax Inn in Franklin, Vista Motel in Murphy, and they will close on the University Inn this month.  Their target is to have 1,000 new affordable apartments in Western North Carolina. Jeff shared that they had just hired a Project Mgr. from Murphy, Taylor Sergeant to oversee their current projects.

Jeff said that they are meeting with members of the community and want to foster a good community partnership.  He said they are scheduled to meet with Senator Kevin Corbin on April 25th.  He said that they will try to provide renderings of what the University Inn exterior will look like by the May meeting.

  1.  Public Comment:  Rochelle Mau asked about potential road repairs at North Country Club Drive Road past the University Inn.  Councilmember Ingersoll addressed this in his report.

     8.  Reports: 

Mayor’s Report: Marcia Almond – Mayor Almond said that she attended the RPO meeting and received information that there was federal funding available that the village might qualify for.  Councilmember Shields made a motion to ask for up funds to potentially get sewer service for the village residents who do not currently have it, Councilmember Couture seconded, unanimously approved.

Roads: Larry Ingersoll – Councilmember Ingersoll said that he had received the signs and posts from Correction Enterprises, he received signs for Valhalla Rd., Saxony Trail, NCC Drive, and Cox Farm.  BH Graning had installed the sign for Teapot Ridge but had to be reattached by Robbie. Councilmember Ingersoll said that he met with DOT about placement of slow signs and mirrors last week, they recommended going with 20-inch mirrors, he will check on ordering those.

Councilmember Ingersoll said that some asphalt is needed near the end of NCC Drive near Teapot Ridge. He contacted Aaron Jones Asphalt to assess the condition of the village roads.  Several residents also met with Aaron to discuss repairs needed to their driveways which they personally negotiated. Councilmember Ingersoll also called Scott Frady at DOT maintenance and he said he will come out and fix the hole in the middle of the road at the lower part of SCC Drive.  He is waiting for a quote from Aaron for repairs.  Councilmember Shields made a motion to approve up to $3,000 to have pacing work done, Councilmember Couture seconded the motion, unanimously approved.

Councilmember Ingersoll said that as the Ordinance Administrator, he sent several letters out to residents in response to written complaints.  He sent a letter to 1017 SCC Dr. about railroad ties in the front yard and did not get a reply, so he sent a second notice, but was contacted by the post office and told that no authorized signor was at the residence to receive certified mail.  Councilmember Ingersoll sent a letter to cabins at 1480 and 1482 SCC Drive to clean up furniture and other debris in the front yard but has not received a response.  He sent a letter to 40 Saxony Lane about barking dogs that acted menacing and scared neighbors.  The owner contacted Larry about the dogs and seemed genuinely concerned about how his dogs were viewed and noted that he would make sure the dogs did not leave his property.   A letter was also sent to 50 Labrador Lane about their dog often being in the road and neighbors were worried about the dog causing an accident or getting hurt.  The homeowner asked for the letter to be sent again, noting she had not seen it.

Planning Board: Planning Board Chair Tim Eckard was absent.

Village Safety: Nilofer Couture – Councilmember Couture said that she had not received the patrol report for March. She said that there were 24 911 calls for the month, one came from Catamount Jaxe, three from the University Inn and eighteen from Prospect.

      9.  New Business:  

     10.  Unfinished Business:

Spring Litter Sweep – April 13-17:  Mayor Almond said that she had spoken to Ron Yount and that he is willing to head up the Litter sweep, anyone interested in participating should contact Ron for more details. She will check to see the date of the event in the village and Stephanie will post it on the website. 

Update on Tree Removal:  Councilmember Shields said that he had spoken with the Arborist who assessed the trees within the village that were in danger of falling and he received a quote to remove the four trees identified as a danger and the cost will be $7900.  Councilmember Shields made a motion that the trees be removed, Councilmember Couture seconded, unanimously approved. 

  •          Road Projects:  Councilmember Ingersoll addressed the road projects needed and is waiting for a quote to being for Council approval. 
  •          Update on Prospect Commercial Space:  Mayor Almond said that she had spoken with Helen Williams, who is with Prospect, about potential business opportunities and asked her if she would check on the village lease that has not been signed by Prospect. 

     11.  Adjourn: At 9:15pm, Councilmember Shields made a motion to adjourn, Councilmember Couture seconded the motion, unanimously approved.