Council Meeting Minutes
JULY 15, 2014
PRELIMINARY DRAFT ONLY
Subject to Town Council Approval
A regular meeting of the Council for the Town of Lake Santeetlah was held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at Town Hall. Mayor Bob Crabtree called the meeting to order. The following members of the Council were present: Bob Crabtree, Guy Owen, Roger Carlton and John Garland. Councilmember Bob Allmond was absent. Town Administrator Peggy Carver, Public Works Technician David Dickert and Town Clerk Debbie Wheeler were in attendance. Nine town residents were in attendance. There were no other attendees.
The Council Meeting Minutes for May 20, 2014, May 24, 2014 (Public Meeting) and June 17, 2014 were briefly discussed. Councilmember Roger Carlton suggested that the Council review the minutes and adopt the minutes subject to a final review by the Mayor. Councilmember Carlton suggested to post the Minutes earlier on the website in the future and mark them as “Draft”. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to accept the minutes subject to some grammatical and punctuation corrections. Councilmember Guy Owen seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The Motion carried.
Approval of Agenda: Councilmember Roger Carlton added a continued discussion about establishing a rental tax and whether to direct our attorney to prepare an Ordinance. Town Administrator Peggy Carver also asked to add under New Business, a quote from Clear Cut tree Service to remove a tree on Sequoyah. Town Clerk Debbie Wheeler also asked to add under Public Comment, Parking Ordinance Intent by Resident Jack Gross. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to approve the Agenda as amended. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The Motion carried.
Councilmember Roger Carlton gave the financial report. Councilmember Carlton discussed the General Fund and stated that this is the first report of the fiscal year. The General Fund shows $163,965.00 in the bank, minus the projected expenses of $159,164 and adding back in the total income estimate for the rest of the year of $181,483, the estimated reserve total at June 30, 2015 is expected to be $186,283 which is the amount projected in the budget plan. Councilmember Carlton said the financial plan at this point is on target and we will be rebuilding the reserves. Councilmember Roger Carlton then discussed the Water Fund and stated it is a similar situation, with $139,234 in the bank and after expenses and revenues the estimated reserve total at June 15, 2015 is at $143,280, which is up about $4,000.00. The reason for that is that we transferred a significant percentage of the salary expense from the General Fund to the Water Fund based on an analysis of time spent. Mayor Crabtree commented that also, the reserves in the Water Fund are in better shape than the reserves in the General Fund so we did not anticipate building them up as much. Councilmember Roger Carlton listed the current interest rates with United Community Bank as being .1001%, First Citizens Bank at .05% and the CMT account is at .01%. Town Administrator Peggy Carver said the transfer of $60,000 from CMT to a CD at Macon Bank is in process, and the transfer is reflected in the General Fund checking account. The paperwork for the CDs has been completed and is being mailed to Macon Bank in Franklin, NC. The interest rate for the new CD is at 0.4% for 6 months. Mayor Crabtree inquired if United Community Bank could match the Macon Bank rate, and Town Administrator Peggy Carver said they could not, the interest rate UCB could offer is 0.2%.
Mayor Crabtree opened Old Business Item #1: Quote to Widen Sequoyah Trail: Mayor Crabtree explained that a storm a couple of weeks ago took down a large tree on Sequoyah Trail. The owner of the property at 833 Sequoyah Trail, Ervin and Jane Kelman have decided to quit claim property to the Town to allow the widening of road at the curve on Sequoyah Trail. The Town has received two quotes to widen the road one from Scott Kamps,” The Stable Guy” for $1,000 and one from Rex Waldroup for $520. Councilmember John Garland pointed out that Mr. Waldroup’s quote did not include moving a Leland Cypress and replanting it on the homeowner’s property per their request. Town Administrator Peggy Carver said that the Town needs a quit claim deed from the Kelmans, since this will cut into their property and the Town will need a legal description of the property. The Town needs to move quickly on this since the Kelmans will only be in Town for a limited number of days. Public Works Technician David Dickert stated that he has talked to Mr. Waldroup and he does intend to move the tree and replant it on the homeowner’s property. Councilmember Guy Owen suggested having a Letter of Intent rather than a quit claim deed at this time to speed up the process. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to approve the work to be done by Rex Waldroup for the amount of $520.00 subject to having a letter of intent in the file before the work starts, to be followed up by a Quit Claim Deed. Councilmember Guy Owen seconded. All members voted in the affirmative. The motion carried.
Mayor Bob Crabtree opened New Business Item #1: Responsibility to Clean up Trees/ Debris:
Town Administrator Peggy Carver said that this item was brought up in the Planning Meeting about trees that have been cut under the power lines and left laying. The debris has been left by Duke Energy after they cut it down. North Carolina has a “let it lay” law, and Duke leaves it in their “right-of-way”. Some of the debris is on Town property and some on private property, and the debris is a fire hazard. Councilmember Guy Owen said the debris that is causing a problem should be removed, it is an eyesore and can be dangerous. Councilmember John Garland stated we need to be careful about what we take responsibility to pick up, some of the debris is on vacant lots and is not doing any harm to anybody, and there is no reason to clean it up. Councilmember Guy Owen said he is talking about trees and debris that are causing a problem. Town resident Jack Gross stated that the debris is a fire hazard. Mr. Gross said we may be able to work it out with the property owner for a shared cost or total cost if we go into the deed restrictions. Councilmember Guy Owen suggested that we first ask the property owner through correspondence to remove it if it is a fire hazard or safety hazard, and give them a certain time to respond. Depending on how the property owner responds, the Town will make a decision as to how to proceed at that time. Councilmember Roger Carlton discussed possibly having a lien program and placing a lien on the property for the cost of removing the debris, to be collected at a future time. Mayor Crabtree suggested doing a “test case” with a property that currently needs clean up and contact the property owner and tell him it needs to be cleaned up, see what the reaction is and go from there. Councilmember Guy Owen made a motion to notify the owner or owners of the property that he/she should remove the debris from a lot that is a fire hazard and he/she should remove or reduce the debris within 30 days. Councilmember Roger Carlton seconded. All members voted in the affirmative. The motion carried.
Mayor Bob Crabtree opened New Business Item #2: Repair Regulator, Take Core Sample Lamar Williams, the Town’s Water System Operator, has been operating the valves manually because the current valve that is worn could possibly break allowing water to flow out. Mr. Williams has been looking for the right valve to do the job. Mr. Williams is recommending that we do not replace the filter media, and has now found an electronic valve that opens slowly and is compatible with our system. Mr. Williams will get a price quote for the valve. Councilmember Roger Carlton asked Public Works Technician David Dickert if he had a quote for a regulator and David said he did but it does not include the core sample. Water Technician Lamar Williams can continue to operate the valves manually, but would recommend the electronic valves be installed at some point. Councilmember Roger Carlton suggested getting a quote from Lamar’s vendor for the electronic valves and from the low bidder and compare those bids. There are no quotes yet for the valves. Mayor Crabtree asked if there is a requirement to have these two things done at the same time. Public Works Technician David Dickert answered “no”. Mayor Crabtree said the pressure reducing valve needs to be done and we have a quote for that. Then we can get quotes for the valves and we can decide whether or not we want to replace the valves so the backwashing can be done automatically rather than manually. Mayor Crabtree asked for the quotes for the regulator. Public Works Technician David Dickert answered that Humford Terry was about $4,000.00, but it did include the core sample, which we are not doing at this time. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to authorize the low bidder to replace the pressure reducing valve and instruct David Dickert and Town Administrator Peggy Carver to get quotes on the electronic valves to review at the next meeting. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The motion carried. Mayor Crabtree stated that we will authorize this and have David Dickert see if the same company can replace the valves. If their charge is not any more than the current quote we could authorize them to replace the valves at the same time as the regulator. Councilmember Roger Carlton requested that this information be obtained by the August Planning Meeting.
Mayor Bob Crabtree opened New Business Item #3: Meter Valves – David Dickert: Public Works Technician David Dickert stated that some of the water customers feel that the Town should cover the costs of plumbing repairs caused by leaking valves at the street. The Town’s water customers should have a shut off valve at their house, or in the crawl space. The shut off at the meter is not where the homeowner should shut off the water. David Dickert spoke to David Hyatt, Graham County Building Inspector, and he supplied Mr. Dickert with building code information and discussed that the responsibility for repair of the water leaking at the shut off valve at the house is the responsibility of the homeowner. Some Town Residents have had a problem with a leak at the upper valve that has leaked down into the house and has created a freeze problem. Either the homeowner is not shutting off the valve at their house, or it may also have a leak. Resident Ed Frazier brought up a problem he had with the meter at the road and said when he winterized and turned off the meter at the road and at the house, it still dripped water. The meter has been changed out, but it cost him broken line repairs two or three times because the drip occurred. He feels that when he was initially assessed by the Town for the meter installation it was defective, and this makes it the Town’s responsibility. Mr. Dickert responded that the valve at the road was not defective and said that those valves are not meant to be turned off and on to the point where they lose their ability to seal the water. The valve at the house should have been the one to be turned off. The valves at the street should only be open and closed once or twice a year. When the new water system was put in, the policy was that when people winterize their house they can turn the water off at the road meter, but the valve at the house also needs to be shut off. Town Resident Roger Schilf stated that some of the meters are installed much too high.
Town Administrator Peggy Carver asked the question “if the valve is leaking, David should replace it”? Mayor Crabtree and majority of the Council responded “Yes” Some Residents close off their valves many times a year. Mayor Crabtree stated that the question is; what is the Town responsible for? We may need to consult our attorney on this subject. Some of the valves are getting old, should they be turned off and on repeatedly? The Town does have a policy that allows for a one-time leak reduction credit for residents. Councilmember Roger Carlton asked if the Town owes anything to a Town resident who had damage within their house because we had a leaking meter. Councilmember John Garland said he believes both the valves should be turned off every time the resident leaves. Resident Jack Gross reminded the Council and the audience that homeowners can report water damage to their insurance companies. Councilmember Carlton closed by saying that “we will notify the owner that we will not take responsibility for the damage”.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #4: Adoption of Implementation of Parking Ordinance: Councilmember Roger Carlton discussed the seven step implementation process. The first step is to prepare a letter to the residents and real estate agents to be sent by the end of July. The Town Attorney should be supportive of the Ordinance and be ready to back up any legal challenges. Step Two is to be sure the letter will have illustrations of how the two foot setback is measured and where the pavement abuts the road paving. Step Three is to meet with the Town’s security guard, Raymond Williams, the County Sheriff and the designated towing company to establish procedures and ensure all deputies are aware of their responsibilities when an official call comes in from Lake Santeetlah’s designated representative. Step Four will be to issue warnings from August through September.
Ticketing and towing will begin in October. Step Five is to encourage appeals to be submitted sixty days before the Town Council meeting so there is enough time for adequate review by staff. Pictures should be taken to ensure that the record being acted on by the Town Council is adequate and defensible. Step Six is to meet with the Graham County Property Appraiser so that she understands that we are not diminishing the value of an owner’s property by implementing this ordinance and that there is an administrative appeal process that must be followed prior to any action on her part. Councilmember Roger Carlton and Town Administrator Peggy Carver had a conversation with Erma Phillips, Graham County Property Appraiser, and further explained what this Ordinance is about and she has agreed to come out and look at the particular situation herself. Mrs. Phillips made it very clear that if someone felt their valuation was damaged she would take an appeal to their valuation, but not until the January 2015 cycle. Step Seven is to place this item on the Agenda of each Town Council meeting so that the Council can be updated and deal with any situations that might develop until the ordinance if fully implemented.
Mayor Bob Crabtree asked to amend or add to the first paragraph to send a letter and an email to each resident. Councilmember Roger Carlton stated that the request today is that the Town Commission adopt the implementation plan. Resident Harding Hohenschutz commented that it looks like we have become a parking lot, because of the construction vehicles parked at the Town’s entrance. Mayor Crabtree recommended that we put up a sign at the Guard House, that if someone wants to park there, they should have a permit. Mayor Bob Crabtree also asked “do we want to incorporate this into the Parking Ordinance or make it a separate item. Councilmember Roger Carlton said that if we want to amend the parking ordinance we should do it at a separate time. Councilmember Guy Owen suggested posting a sign saying that no construction vehicles are allowed to park at the Guard House. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to accept the Implementation Plan with two amendments. The first amendment is to #1: prepare a letter and email to all Town Residents by the end of July, not June and #2: add in on the notice provision “to all residents, contractors and real estate agents”. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative.
New Business Item #5: Set Date for Mayor Crabtree to meet with Jack Gross:
Mayor Crabtree asked to defer the meeting with Mr. Gross and hold his appeal until we hear from our
Attorney, Ellen Davis. Resident Jack Gross did ask the Council to answer a question about the variance and “to have a clarification if we can do anything other than grant the variance within two feet of the edge of the road?” Councilmember Carlton said he did go out to Mr. Gross’ property and agrees he does have an issue, but whether it can be resolved at his site or not poses numerous questions because of where the septic system is located. Councilmember Carlton asked Town Administrator Peggy Carver to contact the Town’s attorney and ask her to research if his appeal can be resolved only within the confines of his property. Resident Mr. Gross also owns property across the street and the possibility of solving his problem with the property across the street is a question we need to ask our attorney. Councilmember Carlton asked to have an answer from Ms. Davis before the next meeting. Councilmember Carlton also asked to contact the County Sanitarian and ask if a non-pavement parking pad, made up of dirt and gravel could be built over the septic. That could be a solution to the parking problem. Mayor Crabtree asked if Nantahala Terrace had ever been a private drive? Mr. Gross answered “No”, because at one time Nantahala Terrace was Nantahala Circle.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #6: Jack Gross Complaint: This complaint was about Public Works Technician, David Dickert trespassing on Mr. Gross’ property after he posted his property as private. The County Sheriff told Mr. Gross he did have the right to post his property. According to Mr. Gross the County Sheriff saw his survey of the property in question and said he would enforce the State trespassing statute. Mr. Gross said that David could have his permission to drive on his property, and that he posted the complaint to bring the problem to the Council’s attention.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #7: Amendment Noise Ordinance: The noise ordinance we have was adopted several years ago. Town Administrator Peggy Carver stated that the Town had an amendment to the Noise Ordinance in 2011, for unnecessary noise to prohibit any fireworks after 10:00 p.m. The current request from Town residents is to make the time limit later, especially for the 4th of July since it is not dark enough by 10:00 p.m. for fireworks. Mayor Crabtree said we do not have a draft of the amendment to look at today. Mayor Crabtree suggested to defer this item to the next meeting. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to table this item to the next meeting. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The motion carried.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #8: Forest Service – 12” Water Main: Councilmember Roger Carlton explained that the Town of Robbinsville has applied to the Forest Service for an easement through their land, which starts at the cemetery by Lone Oak Church and goes by Blue Waters Inn, and out to US 129. Robbinsville alleges that they want to build a 12” water main all the way into Town. It is unclear why they want to do that, other than have an alternate water source. The Town of Lake Santeetlah did not get a copy of the letter from the USFS notifying the Town, as the nearest municipality to the proposal for the Town of Robbinsville. The Town of Robbinsville was getting their water source from Long Creek. A few years ago Long Creek dried up, so they got permission to take water from Lake Santeetlah and now they are applying to the Forest Service to install a water transmission line across their property. However in the meantime, Robbinsville has drilled some wells, so it is unclear if they even need the water line. The water will be collected at the deepest part of the lake, which is located in the above described location. Councilmember Carlton stated that this action brings up a lot of questions, such as a possibility of the State changing the qualifications of the lake to a much higher classification with more restrictions. This issue brings up even more questions, including the fact the Town was not notified, and justifies the request for an extension to review the proposal. Councilmember Carlton stated that the project could also be a positive since you can put water and sewer in the same trench and there could be an opportunity when the digging is being done to build a sewer line at the same time. Based on this information, the Town did send a letter to the Forest Service asking them to delay the deadline for response.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #9: Repair Causeway Guardrail: Town Administrator Peggy Carver said we talked about this at the July Planning Meeting and budgeted $7500.00 for it. We got a quote from Custom Molding to provide 8”x 8” pressure treated wood for the project. Peggy Carver asked should we go forward with this now? Councilmember Roger Carlton asked to get some quotes for the Installation of the guard rail. John Garland suggested to talk to the DOT or the Forest Service and see if they have some specs to follow so we don’t have to hire an engineer to design a guardrail. Councilmember Roger Carlton suggested that we continue discussion about this at the August Planning Meeting.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #10: Citizens Complaint: Rick Ardolino: Mayor Crabtree explained that several years ago Black Bear was one-way going up the hill and Snowbird was one-way coming down the hill, as was Cheoah. There were some complaints by people at the lower end of Black Bear and Snowbird that they had to go all the way up to the top of the mountain and come back down to get to where they were going. So at that time, the Council decided to make the lower part of Snowbird and Black Bear a 2-way street. There was some opposition to this, and Rick Ardolino was one of the people who opposed it. Recently Mr. Ardolino was going down Snowbird and as he rounded the curve he encountered a resident coming up. So to avoid an accident he pulled over into the parking area of another resident, where the owner had put a large stone at the edge of his property and Mr. Ardolino hit it and allegedly tore out the bottom of his car. Mr. Ardolino blames the Town for his car’s damage because we made the road two-way. Mayor Crabtree asked if we need to contact the homeowner and ask them to move the rock off our easement. Councilmember Roger Carlton said
that he took a look at it, and the stone is within the two feet of the pavement. Councilmember Roger Carlton suggested that we ask the homeowner to move the stone. A letter will be sent to the property owner. No further action is necessary.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #11: Addition to Existing Dock – 402 Santeetlah Point: The contractor for Town resident Barbara Lee is building an addition to her existing dock that is already out in the water. The contractor and Ms. Lee were checking with the Town to be sure there was not anything they needed to do. The Council agreed there is no requirement from the Town. Councilmember John Garland said to remind the owners they will need a County permit.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #12: Audit Contract to FY 2013-14:
Town Administrator Peggy Carver stated that the Audit Contract has already been approved by the Mayor and the Finance Officer and needs a final approval from the Council to satisfy State requirements. The costs are the same as they were last year $9,000. Councilmember Guy Owen made a motion to accept the contract as proposed. Councilmember Roger Carlton seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The Motion carried. A printed copy of the Audit Contract 2013-14 is attached to these minutes and hereby incorporated by reference.
Mayor Crabtree said we wanted to discuss the process for the possibility of invoking a rental tax. Councilmember Roger Carlton requested that we formalize the request to ask our attorney to draft the Ordinance to impose the same tax as Robbinsville has on rentals. Councilmember Roger Carlton made a motion to authorize the attorney to give us her legal advice and a proposed ordinance on that subject. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The motion carried.
Mayor Crabtree opened New Business Item #13: Clean Cut Tree Service Quote: Town Administrator Peggy Carver discussed the quote the Town has from Clean Cut Tree Service to take down a tree in Sequoyah that is about to come down. Clean Cut will take care of the coordination with the utility companies. Councilmember Guy Owen made a motion to accept Clean Cut’s quote of $2,800 to take down and remove the tree on Sequoyah. Councilmember John Garland seconded. All members present voted in the affirmative. The motion carried.
Mayor Bob Crabtree opened the Discussion Period For Council:
· Town of Lake Santeetlah Logo for Apparel- Councilmember Roger Carlton asked if we are certain that the photographer’s position is correct? Town Administrator Peggy Carver replied that according to our attorney, the answer is yes. Town Resident Jane Jett will not charge the Town anything for designing this logo, and it is a donation to the Town. It was the consensus of the Council to use Ms. Jett’s design for apparel such as shirts and hats.
Mayor Bob Crabtree opened the meeting for Public Comment: Town Resident Jack Gross asked the Town to have clear clarification in written form as to the intent of the Town of the Parking Ordinance. Councilmember Roger Carlton commented that the Parking Ordinance has been adopted in a Public Hearing and has been debated a number of times while we were drafting it. The Town has moved on to the implementation stage and started a process to consider an amendment regarding the heavy equipment issue. If anybody during that process wants to propose some clearer statement of intent, we would be ready to hear it. Mr. Gross feels that the Town should identify the intent. Councilmember Carlton stated that at the appropriate time if any citizen wants to propose anything in a clearer statement of intent, if they give us the language we will look at it.
Mayor Crabtree closed the Public Comment.
There being no further business on the agenda the meeting adjourned at 12:04 pm.