Chatham County Board of Commissioners (BOC)
August 15, 2011 Session
Evening Meeting: Moment of Supreme Irony:
The Grand Trees of Chatham presented their awards last Monday night. Property owners were present to receive their awards from the organization and Chatham County. One property owner has a tree that qualified as a potential "state champion".
In one of the more bizarre moments Chairman Brian Bock helped hand the awards over to the owners for a program that Chairman Bock previously labeled as the CCGOP Chair a part of "the socialism movement" and "put on steroids here (Chatham County)"
(Apparently campaign rhetoric can be trumped by photo ops.)
RESOURCE: Video of the BOC meeting
1) Environmentalists Are Unwelcome on Chatham County Committees!
Unfortunately the good will extended to the Grand Trees of Chatham did not extend to the appointment of Allison Weakley, who supports the program.
The Chatham Board of Commissioners voted to DENY Allison Weakley's appointment to the County Planning Board. She was the candidate nominated by Commissioner Mike Cross. Weakley has an extensive background in environmental sciences and planning, served on the Environmental Review Board, and recently presented the agricultural components of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan at a public meeting attended by Commissioner Walter Petty.
In Petty's remarks, he accused Weakley of not being "pro growth" and he joined Bock and Stewart in voting against her appointment. Commissioners Mike Cross and Sally Kost were aghast at this precedent for denying a BOC member's individual appointment to a County board or committee. Cross tried to recall his motion, but the tyranny of the majority "officially" denied her appointment to the Planning Board. Motion to deny passed 3-2.
(Chairman Bock was straight forward about his personal opposition to Allison Weakley as he felt her appointment would not line up with his values and what he ran on to get elected last fall. Vice-Chair Petty and Commissioner Stewart offered nuanced opinions including the idea that we needed "balanced growth" as opposed to "no growth". Although we disagree with Vice Chair Petty's vote we do agree on balanced growth and it has been our position that the question is not whether we grow, but how we grow. The CCDP urges the BOC to reconsider this decision. Especially in the light that board member Karl Ernst (R), who ran against former commissioner Tom Vanderbeck in 2006, was originally appointed to the board by Mr. Vanderbeck. His appointment was a rare showing of bi-partisanship, which is what is needed now.)
2) Work session: Green Building and Sustainable Energy Report, and County Choice.
Paul Konove, committee chair, asked the BOC to consider their direction for energy efficiency since they rejected LEED standards as the County building standard. Paul said energy standards give important guidance to the Chatham Economic Development Corporation and Chatham County as they work through the commissioning process. Konove also noted that the LEED standards and related energy efficiency standards were in line with recent Chatham County visitor from the Green Energy Council, Ralph Avallone, who was hosted by County Commissioner Walter Petty and the CCEDC.
The report mentioned three metrics, in addition to LEED, that can be used for creating energy efficiency in public (or commercial) buildings: the Energy Star program; thePerformance Standards for Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Public Buildings detailed in NC General Statutes 143-135.35, Article 8C; or the 2030 Challenge (adopted under Bush Administration) that must be followed by all federal construction.
Each of these standards covers various components from materials, use of recycled materials, deconstruction, and construction and technology practices to use less energy over the lifespan of the building. Konove was concerned that the architect selected for the new jail [the Chatham County Landfill site was approved for a the new site on August 1] was not following any particular metric for incorporating energy efficiency, and that County staff were not as knowledgeable as they should be to ensure that energy efficiency was incorporated thoroughly in the process.
Chairman Bock said he had told the jail architect to consider 5 to 7 year energy efficiency as part of the design...and that he wants a demonstrable return on investment after 5 to 7 years.
Pam Stewart mentioned that LEED does not work perfectly, just consider the air quality in the new library. There was no action taken on his recommendation. (What Commissioner Stewart did not say was that the issues related to the new library were directly related to the contractors and subcontractors, which is precisely why proper oversight is needed to ensure a good product.)
3) Work session: More Changes Proposed for Environmental Review Board.
Dan LaMontagne, head of County Solid Waste, proposed combining the Environmental Review Board and Solid Waste Advisory Committee (both of which are now under him) because, to his mind, they might overlap on certain items, such as future landfill siting. He proposed the committee be composed of two appointments, geographically based, from each BOC member (see item 1 above, no environmentalists need apply). Sally Kost mentioned that there are different skill/educational requirements for members on the Environmental Review Board and the Solid Waste Advisory Committee. She couldn't see how one committee of 10 members would have the range of expertise. He said "subcommittees" could be developed for a specific issue or task, maybe bringing in outsiders. She asked if Dan had discussed this idea with both committees. He had not. The BOC told him to speak with both committees and bring back their recommendations to a future BOC meeting.
RESOURCE: For information on the landfill, please see the film Chatham County Landfill by Rachel Hazlett (The Fate of Waste: One Community's Quest for Alternative Solutions to Trash).
4) Work session: Briar Chapel Roadway Width:
NC Department of Transportation (DOT) worked with Briar Chapel developers on a hybrid plan for internal streets that allow for narrower street width (27-feet) as specified in the Compact Communities Ordinance and their conditional use permit. The actual number of acres in the Briar Chapel (Phase 2) development exceeds DOT acreage maximums, and normally would require a 42-foot road width. The Briar Chapel developers wanted to avoid the extra width requirements because of a massive impact throughout the development. Sally Kost wanted the County transportation director to review this joint agreement, but Bock said this was a DOT matter with the developer and nothing would be gained by staff review. The developer asked the County to send a letter to DOT indicating its acceptance of the joint agreement. Motion passed. (NOTE: Chairman Bock lives in Briar Chapel.)
5) Work session: Recreation Advisory Committee Report:
Hooray! We have parks in the County, and one more planned! Tracy Burnett, Parks Director said that in addition to Bynum Ballpark on the Haw River, four more parks were created in the past six years. The Southwest Park (Hwy 902, next to Chatham Central High School) is 25 acres with trail, ball and soccer fields, pavilion and bathrooms. The Northwest Park (Woody's Store Road in Silk Hope) is 118 acres and a former church campsite with swimming pool and buildings; hosts 75 daily campers (K-8) in the summer. The American Tobacco Trail has 4.6 miles through Chatham with both a paved and crushed granite surface to allow for walking and biking. A park in Briar Chapel has not been officially turned over to the County, but has ball fields. The 120-acre site for a potential Northeast Park (the Stroud property) is currently in the County's land bank. The County purchased 80 acres and the additional 40 were provided free. The property was acquired for multi-purposes, such as a park and new elementary school. No action.
Siler City's Meeting:
1) Reservoirs Low.
At the Siler City Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, August 15, Joel Brower reported that the recent good rain (3-inches at Siler City airport) has not made an impact at the reservoirs. The ground is too dry. The old upper reservoir is 84-inches (seven feet) below full, and the lower reservoir is 9-1/2-inches below full, and is at 53% capacity. They are still on "voluntary" water conservation, and the trigger for mandatory conservation is 40% of capacity.
(Perhaps Siler City, Pittsboro, and Chatham County should explore connecting their systems on US Highway 64.)
2) No purchase Offers for Townsend
(purchased through US Bankruptcy Court as y'all recall by Ukrainian firm, Omtron). Mayor Charles Johnson said yesterday 150 Townsend contract chicken growers were meeting with folks from government concerning their contract "rights." He said the U.S. Grains Council was involved in trying to protect the poultry industry. The Mayor remains optimistic that something will happen.
3) Love's Creek Greenway is a $1.2 Million Project
(proposed 8 years ago) that has been funded by NC DOT's Transportation Improvement Plan. Town planner Jack Meadows provided a map that shows the path it follows along the storm water lines at Love's Creek.
The 1.3 miles of paved trail begins on South 2nd Avenue (across from Bray Park) and continues behind Brookwood Farms (ham processing) and the Siler City Armory, and ends up at Pony Estates. The trail will connect residential areas (including a trailer park), schools, and Bray Park. Siler City will be responsible for a driveway acquisition and maintenance responsibility. The BOC gave the go-ahead to build.
Those who have walked the unimproved trail report that it is actually very beautiful. However, the grassy path comes to the edge of Love's Creek in a few sections, which may be of concern.
Submitted by Diana Hales
Quote this article on your site
To create link towards this article on your website,
copy and paste the text below in your page.