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Vance Co. Commissioners’ Meeting: Rezoning, RVs & Former Middle School Buildings

Vance County Manager Jordan McMillen provided WIZS News with a summary of the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ meeting held on Monday, April 1, 2019. McMillen’s reported highlights from the meeting include:

“We didn’t have any public comments but did have one individual who came back from last month to voice their opinion against the discussed rezoning. Their basis was not wanting commercial activity in a traditionally residential area. The commissioners tabled this matter one additional time and requested that the applicant provide a valid survey of the area to be rezoned with the idea of keeping half of the property on the Edwards Road side as Residential and rezoning the half facing US 1 bypass as General Commercial. It appears the board is open to the rezoning once this is provided, but they have made no decisions. I would anticipate a decision on this at the May 6 board meeting if a survey is provided.”

The board set two public hearings for the May 6 meeting for potential amendments to the zoning ordinance to allow accessory structures in front yards and also one concerning RV/Camper Regulations.

“I believe the bigger one may be the RV/Camper Regulations and I could anticipate some board discussion on this next month. For the most part, the question concerns regulations vs. property owner rights. The proposed amendment would eliminate the temporary use of RV/Campers outside of RV Parks. The state already prohibits permanent living in RVs/Campers. This will most likely have an effect on someone who owns a vacant lot and brings their camper/RV for a weekend or during the summer.”

In regards to moving the Vance County Department of Social Services to the former Eaton Johnson Middle School building:

“We are continuing our negotiations with the school system and I believe this will move forward very soon. Our board did proceed last night to authorize me to negotiate a contract with Oakley, Collier Architects to get the ball rolling on this project.

Regarding Henderson Middle School, the board declined the school systems offer to provide the building to the county at a fair market or negotiated price. For the most part, our board felt it would be difficult financially to take on both Eaton Johnson and Henderson Middle School at the same time. Our commissioners did offer to assist the school system with any costs to ensure the building is added to the historical register to ensure the architectural character is maintained.”

Vance Co. Board of Commissioners to Hold Monthly Meeting – April 1

-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Clerk to Board/Executive Asst., County of Vance

The Vance County Board of Commissioners will meet Monday, April 1, 2019, at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, 122 Young Street, Henderson. The Invocation will be given by Pastor Carolyn Roy, Plank Chapel United Methodist Church.

Agenda items include:

Recognition of Leadership Vance Participants

1. Public Comments (for those registered to speak by 5:45 p.m. – speakers are limited to five minutes)

2. Public Hearing 6:00 p.m. Planning Board Ordinance Amendment Jordan McMillen, County Manager

3. Appointment 6:15 p.m. Angie Blount, County Planner Rezoning Request – Case RZ20190214-1 Between US 1 Hwy and Edwards Road Parcel 0456 06008

4. Appointment Angie Blount, County Planner Text Amendments to Zoning Ordinance Accessory Structures

5. Appointment 6:30 p.m. Terri Hedrick, Appearance Commission Roadside Litter

6. Water District Board a. Monthly Operations Report

7. Committee Reports and Recommendations a. Planning/Environmental Committee – RV/Camper Use Regulations – Zoning Amendment b. Public Safety Committee – Addressing Ordinance c. Properties Committee – Farmer’s Market Rental Rate – Selection of Architect – DSS Relocation – Henderson Middle School – Asbestos Abatement/Demolition – County Owned Property

8. County Attorney’s Report a. REO Property – Bid Acceptance Resolutions – Lot 38 Freedom Lane – Parcel 0541D01034 – Lot 6 Big Ruin Creek Lane – Parcel 0404 03029 b. REO Property – New Offer – 435 N. Chestnut Street – Parcel 0098 07016

9. County Manager’s Report a. Fireworks Permit – Tourism b. 2020 Census c. FY19-20 Budget Update

10. Consent Agenda Items a. Budget Transfers b. Tax Refunds and Releases c. Monthly Reports d. Minutes

11. Miscellaneous a. Appointments

12. Closed Session a. Economic Development Matter

Please click here to view current and prior Board agendas.

Commissioners Eyeing Former Eaton Johnson Bldg. for Vance Co. DSS

On Thursday, March 28, 2019, at 2:30 p.m, the Vance County Board of Commissioners Properties Committee consisting of Dan Brummitt, Archie Taylor and Gordon Wilder will meet in the Administrative Conference Room of the Vance County Administration Building at 122 Young Street in Henderson.

These commissioners will meet with an architect to discuss the potential move of the Vance County Department of Social Services. Currently located at 350 Ruin Creek Rd. in Henderson, the department has expressed the need for a larger space to better accommodate their services and the number of people they serve.

As to the potential DSS move, Brummitt said, “We are contemplating it and still looking at options. Right now we are focusing on [the former] Eaton Johnson Middle School site. As with everything, we’ve got to look at the cost. No time table has been established.”

“Social Services is very crowded and spread over several locations,” said Wilder. “We want to move into the [former] Eaton Johnson building and are working with architects now to make that happen as soon as possible.”

More Food Trucks on the Way for Farmers Market

The Vance County Regional Farmers Market will be opening on Saturday, April 27 for the season, according to market manager Tracy Madigan.

Following a decision made by the Vance County Board of Commissioners at their Monday night meeting, there will be a greater presence of food trucks at the market this year.

Vance County Manager Jordan McMillen told WIZS News, “The popularity of food trucks is undeniable. They are beginning to gain notoriety in this area as they’ve already done in the triangle, and ultimately they can serve as a good way of drawing people to the market who may have never visited.”

“Specifically, at the farmers market, they have experimented with a food truck already and it has added an exciting and different dimension to the market. As individuals become familiar with the local food trucks this should improve the overall attendance at the market and introduce new patrons to the market. We see food trucks as a compliment to the market and believe it may also open up opportunities to push products from the farm to the table, complimenting the existing vendors as well.”

Food trucks, in general, have been in the news in our area in recent months, specifically when Gavin’s Grub Hub, owned and operated by Gavin Jackson, was looking for a semi-permanent location and wound up receiving a six-month approval from the City of Henderson to operate. We’ve also seen Backyard BBQ, which typically locates in the old Armory parking lot on Dabney Drive.

These additional approvals may indicate that our local leaders are getting more comfortable with food trucks and keeping in tune with what consumers have been enjoying for at least a decade or more in other larger urban areas.

Vance Co. Properties Committee to Discuss Architect for DSS Relocation

-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Executive Assistant/Clerk to Board, Vance County Board of Commissioners

The following committee meeting will be held in the Administrative Conference Room, Vance County Administration Building, 122 Young Street, Henderson, NC:

Properties Committee (Brummitt, Taylor, Wilder)

Thursday, March 28, 2019, at 2:30 p.m.

– Architect for DSS Relocation

Vance Co. Planning & Public Safety Committees to Meet Wed., March 13

-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Executive Assistant/Clerk to Board, Vance County Board of Commissioners

The following committee meetings will be held in the Administrative Conference Room, Vance County Administration Building, 122 Young Street, Henderson, NC:

Planning/Environmental Committee (Faines, Kelly, Wilder)

Wednesday, March 13 at 3 p.m.

– RV Regulations

– Planning Board Ordinance

 

Public Safety Committee (Wilder, Brummitt, Faines)

Wednesday, March 13 at 4 p.m.

– 911 Addressing

Vance Co. Board of Commissioners to Hold Monthly Meeting – March 11

-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Clerk to Board/Executive Asst., County of Vance

The Vance County Board of Commissioners will meet Monday, March 11, 2019, at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, 122 Young Street, Henderson. The Invocation will be given by Pastor Joel Beckham, New Life Baptist Church.

Agenda items include:

1. Public Comments (for those registered to speak by 5:45 p.m. – speakers are limited to five minutes).

2. Appointment – 6 p.m. – District Attorney Mike Waters, Sheriff Curtis Brame, Police Chief Marcus Barrow – Law Enforcement Update.

3. Appointment – 6:15 p.m. – Paul McKenzie, Cooperative Extension – Appointments to Farmers Market Committee – Changes to Vendor and Facility Use Guidelines.

4. Public Hearing – 6:30 p.m. – Angie Blount, County Planner Text Amendments to Zoning Ordinance.

5. Public Hearing – Angie Blount, County Planner Rezoning Request – Case RZ20190214-1 between US 1 Hwy and Edwards Road Parcel 0456 06008 Rezoning Request – Case RZ20190214-2 Warrenton Road; Parcel 0456 06008.

6. Appointment – 6:45 p.m. – Benny Finch, Downtown Development, Downtown Development Activities Update.

7. Water District Board – Water Committee – Phase 3 Construction Update – Phase 1B Engineering Services Agreement – Phase 1B Waterline Easements.

8. Committee Reports and Recommendations.

9. Finance Director’s Report – a. Surplus Property b. Financing Agreement – New Fire Truck.

10. County Attorney’s Report – a. REO Property – Bid Acceptance Resolution – 175 Freedom Lane (Lot 37) – Parcel 0541D01033 b. REO Property – New Offer – 175 Freedom Lane (Lot 38) – Parcel 0541D01034.

11. County Manager’s Report a. Spring Litter Sweep Proclamation/County Employee Cleanup Event b. Resolution – Designation of Agent for Tropical Storm Michael Declaration c. Local Records Retention Schedule d. Semi-Annual Jail Inspection Report e. Planning Board Ordinance Amendment f. Generator at Animal Shelter.

Please click here to view current and prior Board agendas.

Vance Co. Water, Public Safety Committees to Meet Feb. 25

-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Executive Assistant/Clerk to Board, Vance County Board of Commissioners

Please be informed of the following committee meetings. These will be held in the Administrative Conference Room, Vance County Administration Building, 122 Young Street, Henderson, NC.

Water Committee (Wilder, Brummitt, Taylor)

Monday, February 25, 2019 – 3 p.m.

– LKC engineering contract for Phase 1B

Public Safety Committee (Wilder, Brummitt, Faines)

Monday, February 25, 2019 – 3:30 p.m. or immediately following the water committee meeting.

– 911 Addressing

– VFD Contracts

Vance Co. Commissioners Brummitt & Wilder Talk Fire Restructuring Vote

On Thursday’s edition of WIZS Town Talk program, Vance County Commissioners Gordon Wilder and Dan Brummitt discussed the Board’s recent 4-3 vote to move ahead with funding paid part-time positions in the County’s volunteer fire departments.

Commissioners Tommy Hester, Leo Kelly, Archie Taylor and Wilder were in favor of the vote, with Dan Brummitt, Carolyn Faines and Yolanda Feimster in opposition.

The question of what changes will be made to the Vance County Fire Department that serves the Golden Belt District is still under discussion. Wilder said nothing is off the table when it comes to reorganization options.

“I’m listening to [County Manager] Jordan McMillen and Finance Manager David Beck for some recommendations. I want us to look at every possibility. It may require some shifting around of funds and some creative measures.”

The original fire restructuring proposal, which went before the Board at their January meeting, included, in part, converting the Vance County Fire Department into a volunteer operation with some paid personnel while repositioning other paid personnel into volunteer departments throughout the county.

The Board voted at that meeting to hold a work session on January 23 to further discuss details and options before proceeding.

Wilder said his vote at Monday’s Board meeting in favor of adding paid part-time positions to volunteer departments while leaving the Vance Co. Fire Department as is for the time being was influenced by his conversations with people in the community and his understanding of the general consensus of the commissioners at the recent work session.

“There seemed to be in our work session a consensus that we need to put part-timers in the volunteer departments. I’m not saying in the future that we don’t reduce the paid staff in the Golden Belt and distribute them out [to volunteer departments], but budget-wise, I don’t think it’s wise right now.”

Brummitt, who has been working on fire restructuring measures since 2006, serves on the County’s Fire Commission and has been a strong proponent of the plan as proposed at the January Board meeting.

According to Brummitt, moving forward with funding new part-time positions in the volunteer departments is not what he considers to be the most fiscally responsible decision nor the one that will bring more equality between the various fire districts.

“Based on the motion made at the meeting, the Vance County Fire Department – the Golden Belt District – will be the only area with 24-7 coverage. The others will have part-time coverage Monday through Friday on an 11-12 hour basis. There’s no equity in any of that,” said Brummitt.

Citing previous conversations centering around improving response time and providing equal coverage to the various fire districts, Brummitt said he feels Monday’s decision was a step back. “I feel the decision made the other night was a step backwards to where we had already gotten. I think we’ve come too far to go backwards now.”

Wilder said he felt the decision to increase staffing at volunteer departments was helping to reach that initial goal.

“One of the goals at the outset of all this was the fact that you may live in Watkins, Townsville or Drewry, and being an outlying fire district, you may not be getting the same response time as someone a little closer. So the goal was to give equal response times, or the best we could, as efficiently as possible.”

Moving forward, Wilder said the Board’s work will turn to the process of putting part-time positions in the volunteer departments, filling those positions and resuming talks of a possible restructuring of the Vance County Fire Department.

To hear the WIZS Town Talk interviews with Wilder and Brummitt in their entirety, please click here.

McMillen: Vance Co. Board Begins 2019-2020 Budget Preparations

County Manager Jordan McMillen was on Monday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program to discuss the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ recent two-day planning retreat, held for 2019-2020 fiscal year budget preparation purposes.

According to McMillen, day one of the retreat included presentations by various county department heads, a change from previous years that led to greater clarity on the challenges and needs of each area.

“At this point in the budget process, which is really just beginning, we have a good handle on the needs for the upcoming year, primarily because of that first day of the retreat,” said McMillen.

Many of those needs center around one of the largest budget costs – public safety. With a new sheriff at the helm, McMillen expects one of the requests put forth to the Board this year to include the addition of several staff positions with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional big-budget items, such as possible EMS schedule changes and on-going fire restructuring talk also weighed heavy on the discussion.

Part of the EMS restructuring includes talk of transitioning EMS personnel to a 24/72 schedule where a responder works a 24-hour shift, followed by three days off, in a rotation that would see all shifts covered.

Transitioning to this schedule would require the addition of nine new EMS positions at a cost of approximately half-a-million dollars, bringing McMillen back to the “challenges” part of the equation – money.

“Our main sources of revenue – sales and property tax – have minor growth each year,” McMillen said. “We may have $300,000 – $500,000 additional each year, which sounds like a lot, but when you start to look at some of the cost items and expenditures, they take that amount up pretty quickly.”

When questioned on the reported $650,000 in additional revenue available from the roll-off courthouse and jail renovation expenses, McMillen said the money will more than likely be put back into capital expenditures.

“The County does have an aggressive capital improvement plan that has funded projects such as roof replacements and met various needs neglected during the recession years,” said McMillen. “I don’t know that it’s going to help us on the operational side of the budget; we may be able to use some of it.”

At the retreat, McMillen said he cautioned commissioners on the potential perils of juggling so many major projects at the same time.

“I recall, a few years ago, we would focus on one large project at a time. Now we are really stretching and getting into a lot of projects at one time. I think the message for the upcoming budget year is that we need to be careful with that.”

To help narrow their focus, the Board established six goals for the 2019-2020 fiscal year:

  • Move the Vance County Department of Social Services to the former Eaton Johnson Middle School building
  • Provide funding and support to improve fire response county-wide
  • Support existing businesses and market available buildings
  • Improve broadband internet access throughout the county
  • Address littering/trash issues and increase clean-up efforts
  • Address public health issues, particularly substance use and mental health disorders

The first of these goals, moving DSS into the former Eaton Johnson Middle School building located at 500 N. Beckford Drive, is a priority for the Board.

Currently owned by Vance County Schools, McMillen said the Board “hopes to move forward, expeditiously, with acquiring, designing and renovating the former school to include the movement of DSS, and possibly the Senior Center and other departments as space would allow.”

These goals will go before the Vance County Board of Commissioners for approval at their monthly meeting this evening.

To hear the interview with Jordan McMillen in its entirety, please click here.