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Friday, October 8, 2010

Franklin Board of Aldermen October 2010 Meeting
Videos, Documents and Notes

The October 2010 meeting of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen 
Photo and Graphics by Bobby Coggins

I am trying a new format for my coverage of the monthly meetings of the Town Board of Aldermen. Let me know if you find it useful.

The above video is the entire meeting, except for the Closed Session, that took place on October 4, 2010.

The videos below split the meeting up into shorter segments, along with the notes for that section of video, so you can pick and choose which portion of the meeting interest you without having to sit through the whole thing...

This portion contains commentary by Dan Williams regarding his water bill. He went before the Aldermen at the September meeting as well. [watch that here]. The decision of staff, and the Aldermen, is that Mr. Williams must pay his water bill because the water meter indicates that the water passed from the city water system to Mr. Williams' pipes.

Debbie Roberts of NAMI-Appalachian South [National Alliance on Mental Health] speaks about mental health issues, then Mayor Joe Collins signed a proclamation that

October 3-9, 2010 is Mental Health Week in Franklin, NC. [The proclamation is below]

Mental Health Week Proclamation by Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Former CEO of Macon County Public Housing, Rick Thornton, speaking about the CDBG Scattered Housing grant and Nancy Olson complains about a property [see the

property on Google Street View] in the city limits that looks like a junkyard. She wants the Aldermen to do something about it.

A request from Vanessa Bailey, of Macon CareNet, for $5,000 in non-profit funding from the Town of Franklin. $4,500 of that to purchase food for the organization's pantry and $500 to help pay delinquent water bills on behalf of their clients. Aldermen vote 7-0 to approve the request.

She also made a request to make Bidwell Street [see Google Map] one-way from 5:30 to 8:30 during the observance of Halloween on Saturday, October 30th in the interest of safety for Trick-or-Treaters. (It is a local tradition that parents bring their children from all over Macon County to Bidwell Street to Trick-or-Treat during Halloween) Chief of Police, Terry Bradley, expressed concerns of liability exposure to the town if someone did not know that the street had been made a one-way street. The Aldermen decided on a compromise to place one officer at the intersection where Lyle Street crosses over Bidwell Street [see Google Map] to stop cars from entering Bidwell Street and accomplish the same thing that way, and not expose the town to liability for any accidents that might occur.

Bobbie Contino, of the Arts Council of Macon County,

requested $2,000 in non-profit funding "to be spent on artists' fees, promotion, production, and operating coststo support an array of high quality, diverse arts programs in the coming year, all presented in Franklin." Aldermen voted 7-0 to approve the request.

Mayor Joe Collins commented that perhaps next budget cycle, a provision be made for a 90-day window of opportunity be made for non-profit groups to make their presentions and so that they all will have an equal opportunity at funding from the non-profit funding pool established by the Aldermen out of the Town Budget.

The Town Attorney, John Henning Jr, advises the Aldermen regarding the NC Local Government Debt Setoff Program. He described it as a creature of the NC League of Municipalities and the NC Association of County Commissioners working together with the State of North Carolina (I presume he means the NC General Assembly) to provide a way for local governing bodies to get the State to act in attempting to take monies owed from tax refunds, garnish wages, etc and turn over to the local bodies to pay tax debts owed by citizens. He went into a little detail regarding the process is supposed to work. Aldermen discussed the program and voted 7-0 to participate in the program, and designated the Town Manager (or his designee) as the person to hold hearings and conduct necessary proceedings related to this program. [see a copy of the resolution minus the signatures]

John Henning also introduced a resolution of intent that he had prepared regarding the proposed involuntary annexation of 88 parcels of property. [click to see photo of parcels to be involuntary annexed into the town]

A public informational meeting on the properties being involunatrily annexed will be held in the Town Hall on November 22, 2010 at 5:30pm. John Henning said that Aldermen do not have to be present at the meeting.

Aldermen then took up discussing a Minimum Housing Code. John Henning, the Town Attorney, passed out a copy of Waynesville's Minimum Housing Code as an example. Alderman Jerry Evans said that he had problems with this kind of ordinance, he felt that the town was overstepping it's bounds and telling people how to live. John Henning told him that it would not have to be enforced in a draconian method, and Jerry Evans, said...then you would pick and choose? Henning said it was not intended to kick people out of their homes. Evans indicated that that was what was seeing.

Mayor Collins asked what could they accomplish in this meeting. Henning then indicated that he 'personally thought it was a good idea to adopt this kind of thing.' Bob Scott wanted to get the three full-time Firefighters be employed to performing these inspections to determine if a dwelling met the minimum Housing Code. The discussion included numerous references to excess trash, cars in yards and limitations on the growth of grass and vegetation on properties that looked unkempt.

John Henning said he would draft a proposed Minimum Housing Code and bring it back to the Aldermen to discuss, 'but not over a long period of time', he said it might merit one work session to work out the language.

Bob Scott said that he thought a problem that needed to be addressed was not necessarily the home owners, but the landlords who rented substandard housing at exorbitant rents. He indicated a person in the audience named Derrick who knew exactly what he was talking about. Derrick then added that one problem he saw was, for example, several apartments at Ulco Bluffs had 6 to 7 cars parked for a 2 bedroom apartment. He said that there were too many people living together in these apartments. Henning added that a generation ago, something like this would be called an 'Anti-Slum Act'. At one point, Mayor Collins said they were not intending to address economic issues as issues of people being too lazy to haul stuff off.

The entire discussion consumed over 14 minutes of the meeting and can be viewed in the above video.

Aldermen voted 6-1 to move the Minimum Housing Code forward. Jerry Evans voted against.

Aldermen then discussed development proposals for the Whitmire Property, with concerns being raised by Bob Scott that it appeared that they were going to hand the job over to a third party who didn't even make a presentation to the board. The Aldermen voted 7-0 to have Arnett Muldrew & Associates to make a presentation regarding development of the Whitmire Property at the November meeting of the board.

A State-Mandated Code of Ethics for elected officials and delegates for the NC League of Municipalities was also discussed, with the Assistant Town manager, Mike Decker giving a Power point presentation. State law requires that the board adopt a code of ethics by Jnauary 1, 2011. A copy of that law may be found by clicking here. The revised part that requires the training to be annually conducted is highlighted in blue.

Under state law, the code of ethics the board adopts must consider at least five key board member responsibilities, as follows:

1. The need to obey all applicable laws regarding official actions taken as a board.

2. The need to uphold the integrity and independence of the board member's office.

3. The need to avoid impropriety in the execise of the board member's official duties.

4. The need to faithfully perform the duties of the office.

5. The need to conduct the affairs of the governing board in an open and public manner, including complying with all applicable laws concerning open meetings and public records.

There are no provisions for enforcement of the code of ethics, save passing a resolution censuring a member who violates the code.

The Aldermen agreed to have a look at a proposed code of ethics that would be prepared by John Henning at the next meeting in November.

Next, the Aldermen selected Mayor Joe Collins to be the voting delegate, and Alderman Joyce Handley the alternate, to the 2010 NC League of Municipalities Annual Business Meeting, scheduled for October 24-26 in Winston-Salem. Aldermen Sissy Patillo, Bob Scott and the Town manager, Sam Greenwood, would also be attending.

Amdermen and staff discuss items of concern that were not on the agnda. For more information, see the above video.

I have appended a copy of the monthly reports below:

Town of Franklin - Monthly Departmental Reports - September 2010

Police Department (Chief Terry Bradley)

The Police Department responded to 494 calls for service during the month of September, 2010.


Accident 23
Arrest 16
Incident / Investigation 40


Arrest 16
Citations 60
Criminal Papers Obtained 7
Warning Citations 50



Fire Department (Chief Pete Haithcock)

Fire Calls

4 Structure Fire
11 Vehicle Accidents
5 False Unintentional
0 False Malicious
1 Vehicle Fire
0 Hazardous Condition
0 Search
0 Refuse Fire
74 Medical First Responder
97 Total Calls

Department Activities

1. Annual Halloween Boo Bash scheduled for 30 Oct 6-8 pm
2. Western NC Association of Firefighters will meet on 20 Oct at Lincolnton, NC.
3. Macon County Fire Chief’s Association will meet on 27 Oct at 7:00 pm
4. Franklin Fire has submitted for SAFER Grant (FEMA) for two additional firefighters and if awarded the grant will provide wage and benefits for two years and the TOF picking up the cost for the third year. Gear is not included the grant.
5. Franklin Fire has also submitted for Recruiting and Retention of fire personnel. Call response stipend of about $7.50 per call will be included on all calls and a draft proposal will be submitted to Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG), FEMA, US Department of Homeland Security. Both grants were reviewed by John Dorner, Consultant and 5% of grants will be charged if approved by AFG.

Planning Department (Town Planner Mike Grubermann)

Since my last report, we have issued four land development permits and six sign permits. The updated map of our current town boundaries is on the website.
The County Planning Board subcommittees’ activities on the comprehensive plan are focused on meeting to review the draft comprehensive plan. The resulting document is about 134 pages. We are meeting on a separate night to avoid tying the comp plan with the slope ordinance, as they are two separate issues. The Planning Board is also proceeding with the Safe Slope Ordinance recommendation while holding localized meetings for local input to the ordinance. There has been much deliberately misleading information given out by individuals regarding the content of the ordinance. That content that they profess, has not even been developed as of yet so the costs and impacts cannot even be determined let alone stated.

I have had further discussions with the Land of Sky Regional Council (LOS) and the best option for the town would be to apply for non site-specific funding for brownfield’s here. I will be developing the grant application before the October 15, 2010 deadline and LOS has indicated they would assist us in any way possible.

I also attended a session sponsored at the Land of Sky Offices by Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) of UNC Charlotte. This was very interesting and the information presented shows we are on the right track with our corridor plan for the ETJ extension. I will provide detailed information on the projected growth for Macon County that has been developed and published by this group to the board in a separate memo.

I have also been asked and will be presenting a program as part of a three person panel at the NC American Planning Association (NCAPA) Conference on “Turning on your Community Character” The other two presenters are Gina Clapp from Holly Springs and Daniel Cobb from Brevard. We will be discussing each town’s efforts in revitalizing their community. This is the annual conference for the NCAPA organization of which I am a member. The conference this year is in New Bern, NC from September 29 through October 1st and I will be attending with Derek Roland, Macon County Planner.

Main Street Program (Executive Director Linda Schlott)

We continue to work on the recommendations from the market study. The “Young Professionals “group is meeting every two weeks. They are in the process of establishing the goals for their group. We are one of the only towns in western North Carolina that have a group of young people working together to be involved in their town.
Streets of Franklin merchant’s organization will be having a “Street Fest Friday“, October 15 at 6:30 PM- October 16 at 8PM. They are celebrating the opening of 3 new businesses with a ribbon cutting on Main Street. Lots of music, prize drawings etc.

Plans for PUMPKINFEST are well under way, looks like we will have more vendors than last year. New events are a professional mime and a stilt walker; they will be out in the crowd throughout the day. Rack cards will be distributed to the Chamber of Commerce, Smoky Mountain Hosts, motels, and business in the area. We will have lots of advertising, the most we have ever had for PUMPKINFEST. The Franklin Fun Factory will again sponsor the pumpkin roll.

Our Christmas events are also in the planning stages. We have completely redone Window Wonderland; new name is “Winter Wonderland”. New winter theme, scheduled is an ice sculpture that will do live demonstrations and also there will be an ice slide for the children. The Rye Holler boys are scheduled to sing Christmas tunes.

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