The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.

PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman

Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman

James Coffey, Commissioner

Art Kohles, Commissioner

Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner

Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney

Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager

Libby Link, Clerk to the Board

Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. stating that about a year ago, the Board had made appointments to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Growth Issues in order to study growth issues throughout the County. He thanked all those who had served on this Commission for the hard work they had done. He stated the Board was anxious to hear from those in attendance and then turned the meeting over to Mr. Jerry Vaughn from the Meat Camp Community.


Mr. Vaughn thanked the Board for allowing representatives from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Growth Issues to address the Board. He stated that at the Board’s September 1, 1998 regular meeting, the Board had appointed 22 individuals who represented each of the 11 fire districts to this Commission who began meeting in October, 1998 and last met in November, 1999. Mr. Vaughn noted that during this period, the Commission studied growth and its relationship to cultural heritage, the environment, land use management, transportation, population, tourism, the local economy, county services and the affiliations among the County, Appalachian State University and the Towns of Boone, Blowing Rock, Seven Devils, and Beech Mountain. Mr. Vaughn then turned the meeting over to Ms. Kristi Cook from the Shawneehaw Community.


Ms. Cook addressed the Board stating she would be discussing the most controversial issue – effective land use planning. She felt that some sort of land use planning needed to be considered due to problems the County had recently encountered: Maymead Materials, Inc.’s attempt to locate in a residential area; an attempt to locate an enormous commercial shopping center at the Twin Rivers development in Foscoe; the Three Guys multi-occupancy apartments on Howard’s Knob; a proposed nursing home in a flood plain (Glenstone Health Care); and the attempt to locate a sexually oriented business in the Deep Gap community.


Ms. Cook was aware that any kind of "zoning" regulations would be met with resistance. However, she stated the Commission was not asking the Board to make the popular decisions regarding zoning rather she encouraged the Board to do what was best for Watauga County. She noted the following which were the primary concerns of speakers who had addressed the Commission and residents: watershed protection, farmland protection, transportation, developer responsibility, and preservation of the County’s natural habitats. She stated the Commission was asking the Board to develop a comprehensive plan to save Watauga County from itself. Ms. Cook then turned the meeting over to Mr. Vaughn.


Mr. Vaughn introduced Mr. Bill Kaiser from the Triplett Community to discuss the County’s economic development. Mr. Kaiser stated he had worked with Ms. Marion Sofield, Economic Development Director; Ms. Sue Counts, Cooperative Extension Director; Mr. Mark Hearst with the Board of Education; and fellow Triplett resident, James Cox, who recommended that the County work harder to:


· Promote job training for the construction trades.

· Identify and protect suitable land for future multi-business developments and County use.

· Emphasize job diversification by supporting training and education.


Mr. Vaughn then introduced Mr. Robert Hinson from the Deep Gap Community who addressed the Board regarding water and sewer services. He stated the Commission considered that what might be good for the Deep Gap community might not be the best for Meat Camp, Vilas, and Cove Creek residents. The Commission recommended that the County:


· Sponsor a study to create sewer and water districts throughout the County.

· Develop a private water system to protect ground water resources from contamination.


Mr. Bill Kaiser again addressed the Board regarding the cost of growth. Mr. Kaiser stated the Commission members would be willing to pay more taxes in order for the County to implement land use planning but only if they specifically knew in detail how their dollars were being spent.


Mr. Jerry Vaughn then turned the meeting over to Planning & Inspections Director, Mr. Joe Furman. Mr. Furman introduced Mr. Geoffrey Willett, N.C. Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance. Mr. Furman stated that Mr. Willett had done a great job working with the Commission, and he felt its mission could not have been accomplished without Mr. Willett’s assistance.


Mr. Willett addressed the Board stating the members of the Commission were a fine group of people, and this had been a great experience for him. On behalf of the Board, Mr. Furman presented certificates signed by the Chairman of the Board to each of the individuals present at the meeting who had served on this Commission.


Mr. Furman then turned the meeting over to the Board. Chairman Hodges stated the Board planned to discuss this report and relative issues at its retreat scheduled for March 17 and 18, 2000.


Commissioner Coffey voiced his appreciation for the hard work that had gone into this report, because he felt this would provide the Board with a foundation to build on since the report considered all areas throughout the County.


Chairman Hodges, who had served on the Commission, stated everyone who had worked on this Commission took its mission very seriously and voiced his appreciation to those who had served as well as the interest shown by all of the citizens in attendance at the meeting.


Chairman Hodges declared the meeting adjourned at 7:37 P.M.





Jimmy Hodges








Elizabeth H. Link

Clerk to the Board