Monday afternoon, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners passed revised county ordinances, were updated on the Community Development Block Grant program, and set a meeting between the health department and the homebuilder’s association for early next month.
Ashe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patty Gambill said the county’s current 911 ordinance, adopted in 1990, does not clearly explain how the 911 addressing system works, how addresses are assigned, and how road names are assigned.
Gambill and Ashe County E911 Address Coordinator Lannie Jones asked commissioners to pass a revision to the county’s 911 code that clearly explains the process. The measure passed unanimously.
Gambill and Jones sought the revision to ensure that all future 911 addresses would be assigned to structures, and not simply vacant land.
“Before, a person could get a 911 address for a vacant lot,” said Gambill. “And of course, that’s something you don’t want. We want it to be for a structure.”
Jones said that during the 911 system’s creation some two decades ago, “We’d get people using their mailbox number that said they lived down Idlewild Road, and they didn’t live down Idlewild.”
“Now, the way we start this,” said Jones, “I go mark the address the same day the footings are laid. I go out with a GPS, mark the driveway, and the address at the driveway point. Years ago, when we started, we were kind of doing that, and people would never build a house, there’s nothing there. We’d rather they start the house so we’ve got something to go by.”
Gambill explained that a 911 address on anything besides a structure could slow down first responders.
“If it’s a 100 acre tract, it’s hard to find somebody,” said Gambill.
Adult Establishment Ordinance
Commissioners also unanimously passed amendments to county code Chapter 160: Adult Businesses and Sexually Oriented Businesses.
Ashe County Director of Planning Zach Edwardson told commissioners the amendments would bring county regulations in line with those of the state.
“It’s now called an adult establishment ordinance,” said Edwardson. “It will upgrade what exactly is an adult business, because current county and state statutes do not match. The school of government feels that is not the best position to be in if there is a legal challenge. We had a separate definition in county regulations, and we have now matched what the state has.”
Edwardson said therapeutic massage will also no longer be regulated by the county because the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy regulates the profession in the state.
“It’s a criminal offense to practice massage without a license,” said Edwardson. “The state board regulates legitimate massage, and it’s a criminal offense to practice without a license, in the same way lawyers can’t practice without passing the bar.”
Health Department/Homebuilder’s Assoc
Mitchell said that a meeting between the High Country Homebuilder’s Association, and the Appalachian District Health Department had been finalized for 6 p.m., April 2, in the large courtroom, third floor, Ashe County Courthouse.
“Beth Lovette, (Director of the Appalachian District Health Department) will be there, and she’ll have one or two state people that will be there that can address state rules, regulations, and laws,” said Mitchell. “Kelley St Germain with the homebuilders association will be there.”
N.C. State Senator Dan Soucek and Representative Jonathan Jordan will also take part in the meeting.
Mitchell said the meeting would include opening comments from all groups represented, and then an open comment period for the public to express their concerns or to ask questions. Mitchell said the meeting has no scheduled time limit, but the meeting will allot five or 10 minutes for closing comments.
The High Country Homebuilders Association, comprised of builders from both Ashe and Watauga County, met with Rep. Jordan and Senator Soucek in late February, to air their problems securing permits and inspections needed for new construction, residential additions, and home closings.
“We have a whole lot of rules that we have to live by, that’s really hard to live by here in the mountains,” said Ashe County Commissioner Gary Roark Monday afternoon. “But what’s killing Ashe County, it’s not the rules that they’re setting down, it’s this soil scientist that’s graduating out of NC State who tells you your soil in Ashe County isn’t good enough for a septic system. I mean, people are walking away.”
Community Development Block Grant
Community Development Planner for High Country Council of Governments Michelle Ball told commissioners she has selected eight homes to repair as part of the organization’s Scattered Site Housing Rehabilitation Program.
Homes selected include one on Big Peak Creek Road in Laurel Springs, Jarvis Road in West Jefferson, Clint Gilley Road in Warrensville, North Church Street in West Jefferson, and Mountain Avenue in West Jefferson. Three alternates were also selected.
The program, which runs on a three year cycle, allots $400,000 per county for repair, and sometimes complete replacement, of homes for low income residents. Ball expects the funding to complete repairs to be available within six to eight months.
Budget Planning Session
Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell and the Board of Commissioners set their FY 2012/2013 budget planning sessions for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 4, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 6, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 7.
“Between everything, we’ve got about 20 total hours scheduled,” said Mitchell. “We’ve never needed that many in the past. I think the most we’ve needed over the past seven or eight years was about 18.”
Mitchell also told commissioners that the state’s budget may not be finalized by the time Ashe County needs to pass its budget on June 30, 2012.
“We’ll potentially have the same issue this year, as last,” said Mitchell. “If the legislature doesn’t have final numbers, if there is some item out there that might effect us from the state, Ashe County has always gone ahead and adopted on time.”