MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE WALHALLA CITY COUNCIL
November 19, 2019
Present: Mayor Danny Edwards, Councilman David Underwood, Councilman Dennis Owens, Councilman Tjay Bagwell, Danny Woodward, Josh Roberts, and City Administrator Brent Taylor.
Absent: Councilman Robbie Burrell
Mayor Edwards called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm. Councilman Underwood led the pledge of allegiance.
Public Input: Mr. Sam Head addressed the Council regarding his proposed development on South Chestnut St. He said, “He wants what is best for the town.” He asked council not to vote on the re-zoning of the property tonight. He stated he wanted to bring back a deed that has restrictions on how many homes can be placed on the property. He suggested to Council they encourage development of good affordable housing. He said, “The current GR designation will help with curbing urban sprawl, by providing some high-density housing.” The Mayor asked, “What he was going to propose?” Mr. Underwood asked about seeing a platted layout with green spaces, sidewalks. Mr. Head stated he would come back with a deed with restrictions to limit to 10 stick-built houses and streets built to county standards, but would not have a layout by next meeting.
Mr. Henry Brown asked, “Can deed restrictions include a clause that they can’t be subdivided.” Mr. Head said, “He isn’t going to do covenants or restrictions or minimal size houses or have a Home Owner’s Association.”
Mr. Keith Pace spoke about recent history of this rezoning issue. He said, “He is trying to protect himself and his neighbors. He had an agreement with Mr. Head and that agreement is no longer valid and encouraged Council to vote No on the rezoning; and develop an R-10 designation. Mr. Head explain the agreement was for him to build 12 homes and deed Mr. Pace some property as a buffer from the development. He was trying to make the area property owners feel better about the development.
Mr. Brown also encouraged Council to develop another category. The Mayor indicated that he asked Daniel Fletcher, Codes Administrator, to have it brought before the Planning Commission. Mr. Fletcher said, “The Planning Commission will meet December 11, 2019 at 5:30p.m. The Mayor also, said “It isn’t just for this property, but for other areas of the city as well.”
Mr. Pace said, “His main concern is not what Mr. Head would build if it was rezoned GR. The issue is what would happen if the property was sold to another developer.
Mr. Fletcher explained a new zoning classification would have to be recommended by the Planning Commission and two readings of an ordinance approved by Council.
Mr. Richard Vettro expressed concerns about roads, traffic, water and sewer infrastructure. Mr. Head stated that he spoke with Mr. Scott Parris, and there is plenty of capacity for water and sewer. He also stated he paid for repairs to sewer at the Parkview development.
Mr. Sandra Burke, S. Poplar St., stated she believes they will have problem selling homes because of some of the lots near there need cleaning up, and traffic is a problem due to speeding and running stop signs.
Ron Winchester asked council, “Why they were going to raise the water nonpayment fee? Most cities have a set rate and it is hard on people with a fixed income.” Mr. Underwood corrected him by responding that council is going to lower the fee.
Approval of Minutes: On a motion by Mr. Bagwell, seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried, the minutes for the regular meeting on November 19, 2019, were approved.
Reading of Resolutions and Ordinances:
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-15 AN ORDINANCE TO AMMEND ORDINANCE 1989-1 CREATING THE POSITION OF PURCHASING AGENT AND ESTABLISHING PURCHASING PROCEDURES FOR THE TOWN OF WALHALLA. The motion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried.
Discussion: Mr. Bagwell said, “He had a few questions from the department heads, but it is ready to be approved.”
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-16 AN ORDINANCE TO AMMEND ORDIANCE 2019-01 TO ESTABLISH REGULATIONS FOR MOBILE FOOD VEHICLES. The motion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried.
Discussion: Mr. Underwood said, “He heard the Food Truck committee meetings went well.” Mr. Owens replied, “It did.”
Mr. Underwood made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-17 AN ORDINANCE TO AMMEND ORDIANCE 2019-05 TO REGULATE, RESTRICT AND LIMIT, IN THE INTEREST OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY, THE USE AND OPERATION OF THE WATER WORKS SYSTEM MAINTAINED AND OWNED BY OR WHICH MAY BECOME THE PROPERTY OF THE CITY OF WALHALLA AND PROVIDING FOR VIOLATION THEREOF. Mr. Owens seconded the motion. The motion failed on a 3-3 tie. Mr. Roberts, Mr. Bagwell and Mr. Underwood voted No. Mr. Edwards, Mr. Owens and Mr. Woodward voted yes.
Discussion: Mr. Underwood asked for a show of hands of people in the audience who are Walhalla water customers. He said, “Seneca’s non-payment fee is $25.” Mr. Underwood praised council for increasing the balance due from $15 to $75 before triggering a non-payment fee. He also commended Council for improvement of the billing system. However, the most complaints he receives is about the non-payment fee. Reducing the fee isn’t going to impact the budget. He read parts of an article from the Journal regarding water payment fees.
He stated the on-call guy gets paid for being on call plus more if he gets called out. Mr. Underwood said, “I got 93 signatures to lower fee.” Mr. Woodward asked, “How many people are on the non-payment fee list?” Mr. Bagwell responded between 120-130 each month.
Mr. Underwood made a motion to amend the ordinance to reduce the fee from $65 to $25. The motion failed for lack of second.
Mr. Roberts stated “He agreed with Mr. Underwood that $65 is harsh, with us hiring more people to get the bills out sooner and increase the balance due before nonpayment fee is applied that we have done a lot. We need to consider the opportunity cost lost if we have personnel going to disconnect and reconnect customers. $25 is to little and I think it should be $45. Mr. Underwood stated he could see after hours connection increased to $50. Mr. Roberts made a motion to reduce the non-payment fee from $65 to $45. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. Owens said he asked Scott Parris, “Does it cost $65 to disconnect and reconnect someone?” He said, “Mr. Parris said it is close.” Mr. Owens stated he would favor the reduction to $35. The Mayor said, “$35 is better than $65 and that saves people $30.”
Mr. Owens made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-18 AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND SECTION 301 OF ZONING ORDINANCE 2017-11. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bagwell and unanimously carried.
Discussion: Mr. Fletcher explained 5 lots are in this ordinance with 4 having homes on them and one lot is vacant. It is currently zoned Light Industrial. The map needs to be corrected to reflect the current use and in the future.
Mr. Owens made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-19 AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND SECTION 501 and 502 OF ZONING ORDINANCE 1994-8/2004-11/2017-11. Mr. Bagwell seconded the motion and unanimously carried.
Discussion: Mr. Fletcher explained this makes real estate signs temporary signs and thus, not requiring a permit. It gives Council the ability to approve free standing signs in the downtown district. It changes the free-standing sign replacement allowable from 50% to 75%. Also changes sign coverage on building from a maximum 25% and 36 square feet of building to 25% of a building. The Mayor asked for an example of the free-standing sign in the downtown district. Mr. Fletcher stated the Christ Ministries Thrift Store proposed one with a Victorian style pole and sign. This style would be acceptable within the guidelines if free standing signs were allowed. Mr. Bagwell stated that Council learned that given some of the size of our buildings that 36 square feet was too small. Also, the same for signs located on the sides or rear of building. Mr. Owens asked, “Does this affect murals?” Mr. Bagwell said, “It doesn’t, Council must approve murals.”
Mr. Owens made a motion to table Ordinance 2019-20 AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND SECTION 301 OF ZONING ORDINANCE 2017-11 The motion was seconded by Mr. Bagwell. It passed 5-1 with Mr. Underwood voting in opposition.
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to adopt Resolution 2019-17 A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF JANET HARTMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OCONEE ECONOMIC ALLIANCE, TO THE CITY OF WALHALLA. The motion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and carried unanimously. The Mayor said, “Mrs. Hartman did a great job for us.”
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to adopt Resolution 2019-18 A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF VANESSA PENTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OCONEE COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO THE CITY OF WALHALLA. The motion was seconded by Mr. Woodward and carried unanimously. The Mayor said, “Mrs. Penton has been a good friend to Walhalla.”
Approval to request bids on Pickle Ball Courts
The Recreation Committee made a recommendation to full council to seek bids for pickle ball court construction.
Mr. Roberts made a motion and seconded by Mr. Bagwell to authorize the administrator to seek bids from Pickle Ball Court contractors.
Approval to hire a Main St. Director
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to authorize the administrator to advertise hiring for a Main St. coordinator. It was seconded by Mr. Owens and approved unanimously.
Discussion: Mr. Bagwell stated he thinks this is good first step. He encourages council in a future budget to make this a full-time position. If this person can help recruit a business like Bojangles, the city’s revenue from it will more than make up the difference in elevating it to a full-time position. Mayor Edwards said, “Looking forward to getting it organized and getting it going.”
Mr. Owens reported the department ran 114 calls for the month of October. Sxity-five (65) were fire calls and forty-nine (49) were medical calls. 50 Calls were inside the city while 64 were outside the city. The Fire Marshall performed 23 business inspections, 9 pre-fire plans. The codes department had 13 contacts, presented the Planning Commission Report and explained changes to the mobile food vending ordinance. The Planning Commission recommended two zoning changes and two sign ordinance changes. The Department ordered a Fire Engine. Boo in the Bay had 2200 participants attend.
Mr. Bagwell asked for an update on the fireworks contract with the Oktoberfest Committee. The Mayor responded we had a meeting with them Friday, and they are going to see what they can work out with the Fireworks company to get a credit for next year.
Mr. Underwood reported the department collected for the October 169 tons of residential garbage,132 tons of commercial garbage, 22 tons of mattress, 11 tons of C&D,13 tons of furniture and 30 tons of recycled brush. The department completed the deck at the Earl House, assisted the Oktoberfest event, and cut a tree down at Sertoma Park. Mr. Owens asked, “Is the department short-staffed?” Mr. Price responded they are down 2 CDL drivers. Mr. Underwood stated there is a pot hole on Pitchford St. that needs to be repaired. Mr. Woodward asked the administrator to contact the SCDOT about a traffic study for Catherine St. and N. Broad St. intersection. The Mayor stated the paving on the Mill Hill is almost complete.
Mr. Roberts reported the department is going to put out for bid three pickle ball courts. 293 youths are playing basketball. Practice starts in December and games will start in January. The lights in the gym were replaced for $3,700. The actual cost after rebate will be $1,364.
Mr. Woodward reported several members received training. The neighborhood App is working. The Department has all its vehicles on the road. They have added a fitness and aptitude test in the hiring process. Discussed pay and facility issues. They had 64 incidents, issued 202 tickets and made 21 arrests.
Mr. Underwood reported the department SCDHEC is requiring a permit for the Stribling Shoals project. They are getting more quotes for the Duck Pond Rd. project. They are still seeking proposals for the Drive Thru window project. They discussed lowering the non-payment fee from $65-$35. Also, discusses improving communications. We were updated on installation of new water meters and methods of payment on water bills. Heard a complaint from Steven Lopez regarding master meter billing.
Mayor’s Comments: He said, “We got a lot accomplished tonight and appreciates everyone’s work on council.”
Council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter. No action was taken.
Brent Taylor, City Administrator