Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council of the Town of Marion held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building on November 16, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
PRESENT: Mayor David Helms; Dr. James Gates, Mrs. Suzanne Jennings, Mrs. Jane Hale, Messrs Mel Leaman, Bill Weaver, Eugene Hendrick and Buford Cregger, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk; Assistant Town Manager/Town Engineer Cecil Hicks; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Officer Amber Eades; Police Officer Rusty Hamm; Purchasing Agent B. J. Hamm; and Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets. Also present were members of the Marion Planning Commission: Chairman Cameron Wolfe, Shirley Spencer, Alice Freeman, James Barker, Bob Ramsey, and Larry Carter.
INVOCATION/PLEDGE TO THE FLAG: Rev. Neville Mozingo rendered the invocation. Mayor Helms led the Pledge to the Flag.
VISITORS: Sam Martin, Katie Martin, Vanessa Martin, Brandi Martin, Isabella Hutton-Martin, Gabriella Hutton, Debra Gollehon, Aaron Paschal, Heather Barnes, Susan G. Austin, Fairfax S. Patterson, Marshall Collins, Ralph Price, Diana Price, Sharon Seymour, Steven Seymour, Rev. Neville Mozingo, Tom Austin, Roger Catalino, Jack Talley, Teresa Harless, Jeff Spickard, Don Allen and Brian Cregger.
COUNCIL MEMBER BUFORD CREGGER WELCOMED: Mayor Helms expressed Town Council’s appreciation to Mr. Cregger for agreeing to serve the unexpired term of Council Member Mark Warren. Mr. Cregger will assume Mr. Warren’s place on all Committees.
MINUTES: Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 6 AYES and 1 ABSTENTION (Cregger), the minutes of the meeting conducted on November 2, 2009 were approved as written and distributed. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, and Weaver voted affirmatively.
SPECIAL PRESENTATION - SAVED BY THE BELT AND BAG AWARD-PRESENTED BY DON ALLEN OF THE VIRGINIA HIGHWAY SAFETY OFFICE: Marion Police Officer Rusty Hamm informed Town Council that the “Saved by the Belt and Bag Program” is sponsored by the Association of Chiefs of Police. It is awarded on the basis of lives being saved by responsible drivers and passengers due to the proper use of safety equipment. Officer Hamm recounted that on May 8, a thunderstorm came thru the Town of Marion, resulting in zero visibility, downed trees, and property damage and power outages. He was travelling on North Main Street when he came upon a minivan that had hit the bridge. He saw that the impact was severe when approaching the vehicle. Samuel Martin, Jr. and wife, daughters and two grandchildren were in the van. All adults were wearing seat belts and the air bags had deployed. The grandchildren were properly secured in the vehicle, as well. No one in the van was injured. Officer Hamm nominated Mr. Martin and his family to the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police for the Saved by the Belt and Bag Safety Award. Officer Hamm felt that if the Martin family had not been properly secured in the vehicle, the outcome would surely have been affected. Officer Hamm introduced Mr. Don Allen with the Virginia Highway Safety Office to present the award to the Martin family. Prior to the presentation, Mr. Allen reported that 56% of the vehicle fatalities in Virginia were unrestrained drivers and passengers. He presented each Martin family member with a Certificate for the Saved by the Belt and Bag Award on behalf of the Virginia Highway Safety Office, the Association of Chiefs of Police and Virginia State Police. Mayor Helms thanked Officer Hamm for nominating the Martin family for the award. He added that these types of awards are important to our entire community.
JOINT PUBLIC HEARING WITH PLANNING COMMISSION-REQUEST TO REZONE PARCEL OF PROPERTY AT 1103 CULBERT DRIVE FROM R2 TO MEDICAL ARTS-RALPH PRICE:
Chairman Cameron Wolfe presided, calling the hearing to order, and noting that a quorum was present. Chairman Wolfe stated that this is the second Public Hearing to consider Mr. Price’s request. At the previous meeting, adjoining property owners were notified and it was advertised on TV3, but the legal notice failed to appear in the local newspaper. At the previous hearing, Mr. Price’s request was granted with a one year proffer that if the building was not inhabited by a medical facility zoning would revert back to R2.
Mr. Hicks presented an overview of the rezoning request. The owner does not have a renter and cannot identify what type of medical use this property will be. Mr. Price again agreed to proffer a time limit to secure a medical arts buyer. Mr. Hicks reviewed the plans for the property with Mr. Price. Mr. Hicks stated that the staff has no recommendation; however, the property is located in a transitional area, between Medical Arts and R-2. If the Planning Commission recommends approval of the rezoning request may it be subject to the following conditions:
1) The applicant abides by all Federal and State laws along with all local ordinances in general and with the local ordinances concerning land use, noise, parking, and storm water management.
2) The Town Engineer shall approve the location and design of any new curb cut or modification of existing curb cuts.
3) Off-street parking is provided in accordance with Section 16.3 of the Zoning Ordinance for Medical Arts in a Residential District.
4) The owner shall provide for engineered management of storm water on the property if more than 1,000 sq. ft. of existing vegetative area is converted into impervious surface.
He noted that the Planning Commission had met on the request again on November 9.
Chairman Wolfe opened the floor for public input. Mr. Price thanked the Planning Commission and Town Council for consideration of his rezoning request. To those in attendance and who signed the petition against the request he brought them up to date on his plans for the property, if rezoned. He hopes to create 5-10 jobs with one office. Ten other offices are in the same area and are zoned Medical Arts. He addressed the questions about traffic flow. He stated that the Wellness Center, a much needed facility, increased traffic flow as did the construction of Callan Drive. Mr. Price also stated that there was no opposition from adjoining or abutting property owners.
Tom Austin, 1146 Culbert Drive, spoke in opposition to the request. He stated that he had lived on Culbert Drive for 20 years and the traffic has tripled. He also cited speeding as a problem. He advised that it is a residential neighborhood and there is already one clinic located in the neighborhood. Mr. Austin had collected 30 names of residents of Culbert Drive to oppose the re-zoning. These had been distributed to the Planning Commission and Town Council. Mr. Austin added that one name of an adjoining property owner appeared on the petition that he collected.
Rev. Neville Mozingo, 1110 Culbert Drive stated that he lives across from 1103 Culbert Drive and has no objection, what-so-ever, to the rezoning request. As to the traffic increase or speeding, he stated that he had every confidence that the Town would handle the traffic flow with signs and the police would monitor the traffic and speed issues.
Heather Barnes spoke in opposition to the request. She stated that she has four (4) children, one child is autistic. Traffic was her main concern. She had previously spoken to the Marion Police Department concerning this issue. She appreciates what they have done. She further stated that several of the doctor’s offices in the area are vacant and expects a substantial movement out of the offices when the hospital is built.
Susan Austin also spoke in opposition to the request. She noted that Mr. Price had hoped to provide jobs to the community with permitted medical arts zoning. She advised that this would result in vehicles for up to 10 workers and customers at the facility. She also feared customers would park along Culbert Drive. She had hoped that the property could be a home for a family. She stated that she is more concerned about the residential needs in Smyth County.
Mr. Hicks stated that Jeffrey Richardson had informed him that he would be satisfied with either zoning. Mr. Hicks further advised that signs would be posted to prevent parking on the street and this would be monitored.
Mr. Leaman noted that he voted against the rezoning only because Mr. Price is unable to state who or what type of medical business would be located on the property. He added that properties developed by Mr. Price are aesthetically pleasing.
Mr. Ramsey stated that if the property remains zoned R2 that a duplex may be developed there and if zoned Medical Arts and not developed, the zoning would revert to R2. He added that Mr. Price has stated that he would not develop the property further until the zoning is settled.
Mrs. Jennings apologized to Mr. Price for the problem with the zoning but was concerned that so many people had signed the petition against the rezoning request. She asked if renovations have been completed inside of the property. Mr. Price advised that no renovations have been made inside. These would be specific to the type of medical facility purchasing the property.
Mrs. Freeman stated that property, historically, is not rezoned unless a specific use is known. She was also concerned that some of the parking is planned in the front of the building.
An adjoining property owner, Bruce Milsap, stated that his only concern is what restrictions would prevent a methadone lab on the property. He was informed that it is not permitted.
Mr. Carter stated that Mr. Price had met all guidelines set forth by the Zoning Ordinance.
Ms. Spencer moved that Marion Planning Commission recommend approval of the request to rezone the property located at 1103 Culbert Drive from R2 to Medical Arts, including the one (1) year proffer, that the property reverts to R2 if not developed within one year. Mr. Ramsey seconded the motion. The motion carried by a vote of 5 AYES and 2 NOES (Leaman, Freeman). The public hearing was closed.
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Cameron Wolfe, Chairman Cecil Hicks, Secretary
Mr. Leaman moved not to accept the recommendation of the Marion Planning Commission and to deny the request to rezone the property at 1103 Culbert Drive. Dr. Gates seconded the motion. Council adopted the motion by a vote of 4 AYES (Gates, Weaver, Leaman and Jennings), 2 NOES (Hale, Hendrick) and 1 ABSTENTION (Cregger).
PROPOSED CHANGE TO TOWN CODE OF ORDINANCE SECTION 22-10 & SECTION 22-15 TO AMEND ADULT USES: Mayor Helms opened the public hearing. Mr. Fenyk stated that the public hearing is held to present proposed changes to the Town Code Sections 22-10, (10), (11), (12) and Section 22-15 Definitions for consideration. These changes allow the uses for Body-Piercing Salons, Fortunetellers, and Massage Parlors but they must comply with distance from certain areas of Town. Mrs. Fairfax Patterson voiced opposition to Tattoo Parlors, Massage Parlors and Body Piercing Salons being allowed in Town. Mayor Helms closed the public hearing. Mrs. Jennings moved that the Town Code Sections 22-10 and 22-15 be amended, as presented. Mr. Weaver seconded the motion. Council approved the same unanimously. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Weaver, Leaman, Hendrick and Cregger voted affirmatively.
REPORT ON OLD SCHOOL PROJECT/STREETSCAPE PROJECT-COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR/ATTORNEY: Council was informed that a notice to proceed was issued to Waco, Inc., of Radford, to address pigeon abatement at the 1908 School. Work shall begin the week of November 16.
Pre-bid for this project was held on November 12. There are three (3) remaining contracts. (1) Façade restoration at the school, including window repair/replacement; (2) Streetscape around the school; and (3) Façade replacement on buildings on East Main Street in the block below Wachovia Bank. Bids will be due December 1, 2009 at 2 p.m. The contractor(s) will have 210 days to complete the project.
UPDATE ON CDBG-R PROJECT – DEMOLITION & CONTRACT; PROGRESS REPORTS: Mr. Bill Huber presented the update on Contract #1-Demolition. He stated that the contract has been awarded to Waco, Inc. and they have 30 days to complete the demolition of the fire escapes and removal of pigeon droppings.
Contract #2- Exterior Rehabilitation: This contract relates to exterior rehabilitation. It includes restoration of the roof’s edge, concealed gutters, replacement windows and restoration of the east façade. Bid openings for this contract will be conducted on December 1.
Contract #3-Upgrades to Downtown. This contract will address upgrades to downtown. These upgrades include improved pedestrian areas and façade improvements to several structures in the downtown area. Bids are due by December 1.
Contract #4-Streetscape Improvements: This contract will provide for Streetscape Improvements. These will include re-establishment of the sidewalk line at the school, installation or greenery and decorative light fixtures, improvement from Court Street to Iron Street, relocation of the crosswalk and material embossed asphalt. Bids are due on or before December 1.
STREETSCAPE ALONG MAIN STREET TO MARION FLOWER SHOP: In Spring 2010, VDOT /T-21 funds will be used to continue the Streetscape along Main Street to Marion Flower Shop.
APPROVAL OF PAYMENT REQUEST NUMBER 1 ON SOUTH MAIN STREET WATER LINE AND REPORT ON THE SAME-JEFF SPICKARD/TOWN STAFF: Upon motion of Mr. Hendrick , seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, South Main Street Water Lane Replacement Project Payment #1, in the amount of $81,497.64, was approved. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Hendrick, and Cregger voted affirmatively.
APPROVAL OF CHANGE ORDER NUMBER ONE – JEFF SPICKARD/TOWN STAFF: Change order #1 for the South Main Street Water Line Replacement was presented to Town Council. The change includes the addition of new water meters and service lines along the project. Upon motion of Mr. Hendrick, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, Change order # 1 was approved in the amount of $24,894. This will exhaust all contingency monies on the project and will exceed the total project funding by $4,800. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Hendrick and Cregger voted affirmatively.
REPORT ON LEE STREET CONNECTION TO MAPLE STREET – TOWN MANAGER/ENGINEER: The water line connecting the Maple Street Line and a line on Lee Street has been installed. This will increase volume and pressure to these residences.
REPORT ON WELLBORNE, INC IN ATKINS: Work on the Wellborne Water Project is progressing well after several setbacks. This project involves approximately 700 feet of 6 inch line, 100 feet of one inch line and about 500 feet of ¾ inch line. Mr. Hicks stated that the line is complete with the exception of tying over service lines. He and Mr. Clark stated that the Atkins Baptist Church has been extremely easy to work with and the Town sincerely appreciates their cooperation. Mr. Leaman requested a complete breakdown on the Wellborne Project.
REPORT ON FIRST FRUITS BOTTLING COMPANY-COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR: Mr. Roger Catalino of First Fruits Bottling Company was present to discuss their new business. The First Fruits Company will specialize in production of healthy beverages, such as, organic teas, juices, vitamin waters and low calorie/sugar free sports drinks. He stated that the group will bring in a minimum of 51 jobs and a $2 million payroll. He further stated that 10% of the company profits will go back into Community Projects.
A Tobacco Grant application in the amount of $170,000 was presented for consideration that would induce the Company to expand the facility and employ a significant number of persons in the Town of Marion. The Company would use the grant for either (1) site improvements or (2) education and training to prepare its employees for the jobs created. In the event that the milestones set forth in the grant application are not met, a proposed standard agreement was also presented for approval by Marion Town Council. This agreement would require the Town to repay the grant funds. Mr. Fenyk stated that the agreement does not protect the Town. Mr. Fenyk requested a continuance to further review the agreement. Mr. Clark advised that the Tobacco Commission requires the grantee to be the responsible party related to a grant. Mr. Cregger stated that if First Fruits Company were to go bankrupt or not meet the performance threshold stated in the Tobacco Grant Document, the Town would immediately be required to pay back the grant funds. Mr. Catalino stated that he would work with the Town to work out some type of collateral.
Mr. Catalino has been working with Mayor Helms, Mr. Clark and Mr. Heath to increase the water line from a 6 inch line to an 8 inch line. The Company currently estimates usage of one-million gallons of water per month, in addition to job creation. As capacity increases so will the water usage. It is anticipated that the capacity will double within three (3) years.
Dr. Gates moved that the Town continue this item to the December 7 meeting and the attorneys discuss this matter. Mrs. Jennings seconded the motion. Council approved the motion.
ACCOUNTS: Mrs. Jennings moved that the accounts be paid in the amount of $741,398.45. Mr. Weaver seconded the motion. Council approved the same by a vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Hendrick and Cregger voted affirmatively.
INVESTMENTS: No funds were invested since the last Town Council Meeting. Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the Investment Report was approved as presented. Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Hendrick and Cregger voted affirmatively.
FIRE DEPARTMENT DINNER ON DECEMBER 5TH AT 6:00 P.M.: Marion Volunteer Fire Department invited Council Members and their guests to their Annual Christmas Dinner on December 5th at 6 p.m.
VDOT SALT: Mr. Hicks reported that arrangements have been made with VDOT Marion Shop again this year for salt.
LETTER OF APPRECIATION FOR ERIC ALBANO’S SERVICE TO THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT: Dr. Gates suggested that a letter of appreciation for Eric Albano’s service and contribution to the Recreation Department, youth and Soccer Team be drafted and presented to his parents, Mike and Pat Albano.
COUNTRY CLUB ROAD: Mr. Leaman expressed concern about the debris being dumped on Country Club Road. Mr. Clark advised that the area is being filled in to make mowing easier. Mr. Leaman noted that much of the debris is concrete and asphalt. Mr. Clark stated that the area would be leveled and top soil spread over it.
ATTORNEY’S REPORT: Deeds for the 1908 School Building and Street have been received, signed and recorded. A check in the amount of $250,000 was delivered to the County representative by Town Attorney Mark Fenyk.
SMYTH COUNTY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL RE-USE COMMITTEE: A meeting was conducted at Smyth County Community Hospital on November 11 to consider the current hospital use to enhance the education opportunities in Smyth County and the surrounding region. Mt. States Health Alliance is open and supportive of re-using the current facility after the new hospital opens in 2012. Several avenues are being considered.
POLICE – COMMUNICATIONS GRANT: Chief Roberts reported that the Communications Grant with Smyth County has been extended. The grant enhances the police communications through-out Smyth County. The funding requires a 25% match ($4,000) from the Town. This may be considered in the 2010 Budget. Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 5 AYES and 2 NOES (Cregger, Hendrick), this item was approved to be considered in the 2010 budget.
PRATER LANE RAILROAD CROSSING: Mr. Hicks informed Town Council that five (5) contractors attended the pre-bid conference on this project. Bid openings will be conducted at 2 pm on November 19.
SPRING METER TEST RESULTS: Mr. Hicks advised that the Town may need to replace the spring meter. It is his opinion that this should be considered in the near future. The meter is showing a variance of 27% high.
BURNING BRUSH: Mr. Hendrick suggested that the Town chip brush and mulch leavers rather than burn the brush and leaves. He stated that dense smoke drifted into Town during a recent burning of the brush.
Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the meeting was adjourned.