24 Nov November 24th, 2014 Minutes
THE FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTIETH SESSION OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMAN
VILLAGE OF ALAMANCE
November 24, 2014 – 7:00 PM
Present: Mayor Bundren, Mayor Pro Tem Tichy, Alderman Clemmons, Alderman Sharpe, Alderman Crouse, Alderman Slaughter, Alderman Gregory, and Clerk York.
Alderman Clemmons gave the invocation.
Alderman Sharpe moved to approve the October 8, 2014 special meeting minutes. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Alderman Sharpe then moved to approve the October 27, 2014 regular meeting minutes. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Phase 5 Heritage Glen
Mark Reich provided an update on Phase 5 of Heritage Glen. A large crowd of residents was in attendance at the meeting. Since the October report, the contractor has fine graded and back filled the curb and gutter. They have proof rolled the ABC stone, and the ABC base has been installed. The stone base is “set up”, and is to grade. Mr. Reich’s firm observed the proof roll and checked the grade to make sure it was the proper elevation. The subgrade was checked first, then it was checked after the stone was put in. They checked the difference between the two. Based on all their measurements, everything appears to be in compliance with the plans. A density testing was performed by the developer’s sub-consultant. The results were “passing” for the stone. As far as construction to be completed, they need to proof roll the stone one last time, before paving. This is to make sure that nothing has changed since the last time they looked at it. Then, the contractor had planned to put in 2 inches of asphalt tomorrow, but a late phone call informed that the stone is still wet from last night’s rain. The asphalt will not be placed until the stone properly dries and the subgrade is approved to be suitable for the asphalt. They also have to complete the manhole and water valve adjustments. This will be done after the 2-inch asphalt layer is put in. This will still be 1-inch below the final surface course. The contractor will then install all the water meters and complete water services. The final inch will still need to be placed. The proposal calls for the final inch, after the homes are constructed, or a large percentage of them. They will also seed/mulch everything. Mr. Reich has not seen the report, but understands that the erosion control folks have been out there. He was told they would be able to remove the erosion control devices in the near future. That is being monitored by DENR, the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. Testing will still need to be completed. They will be spot checking the subgrade, to make sure there has not been frosting or heating of the stone. They still need to complete the sewer manhole testing after the asphalt is installed. They will then also do the bacteriological tests for the water main, prior to putting all of the services online. They will also check to make sure water is in each and all of the services before they sign off on it. The contractor will provide a video of the sanitary sewer once it is completed. This will make sure there is no debris from the manhole adjustments that could be in the sewer lines. Mr. Reich has met with the developer and the soils engineer to discuss the issue of the bar pits, as discussed at the last meeting. What was decided, on the way to pursue disclosure as discussed, was that their information will be shown on a plot plan when they come in to get a building permit. The soils engineer will be doing verification of the soils prior to that, making sure that the soils are suitable for the foundations. Mr. Reich received a copy of the revised final plat on Friday. They’ve got some review comments back. Once the final plat goes through planning and zoning, it will be in position to come back for the Board’s approval. They have indicated that they want to post a bond for the remaining improvements. Mr. Reich has reviewed the subdivision ordinance with Attorney Koonts, relative to when they can place one. Based on their interpretation of the subdivision ordinance, once the clearing and grubbing is done, and once the grading and storm drainage has been completed, then they could post the bond. They are well ahead of that. The Board may wish to have some additional discussions at some point in time, if it wishes to require additional work to be done, especially curb and gutter and the stone installation, before it would be allowed to be bonded. This may be discussed at a further time. This is their interpretation of the ordinance now. They could post the bond for the remaining improvements. It is 150% of the estimated cost. Mr. Reich offered to answer any questions. Alderman Clemmons asked if the people who bought the houses, after they are built, would be well aware of the bar pits. He asked if this would be up to the closing attorney. Mr. Reich responded that he thought it would. He doesn’t know that there is anything they can put on the plat. The town is protected in that there is a soils engineer going out there and telling that the foundation is suitable for placement. Attorney Koonts mentioned two key disclosure items. The first is where they are located. These will have to be put on the site plan, when they come in and apply for a permit. This is when the setbacks are done, and it is determined where the house will be located. Based on what is known about where they are, they should not be a problem. This depends on how the house is situated on the property. Disclosure is where they are, and also having a soils engineer certify that it is safe to build a house on those locations. All the bar pits are along the edges of the property, well within the setbacks. The extra layer of control is desired to make sure that the house and the driveway are put in the right place, so they don’t cross those bar pits. Attorney Koonts stated that after he met with the developer, and after he received the information from the soils engineer, they have a good plan in place to protect everybody. Ben Lunn, from D.R. Horton stated that they pay for that again, on the footings. No matter where they build a house, they will pay for a soils engineer to test for the footings. They will dig as deep as he tells them to go. Attorney Koonts noted that this is part of their process as well. It is being required up front as part of the site plan. At this point, a question was raised about the identities of the speakers. Mayor Bundren made some introductions for the Town Attorney and Engineer. Mr. Lunnen introduced himself. A person in the audience, asked for explanation about the pits. Mr. Reich explained that this was done in the early development of the property. The site itself would be classified as a borrow site. In other words, in cut and fill, the question is if there is sufficient fill or borrow to build the roads. They went in and dug a trench about 10 feet wide. Prior to the engineer becoming involved in the project from a construction standpoint, they dug trenches along select property lines. They took the good material out of that to help build the road. They took the less desirable materials and put them back into the borrow pits, then filled it back up. As the Village Engineer, Mr. Reich’s concern is whether a structure will be built in that area. Based on the setbacks, it is believed they will be out of it. The soils engineer will design a specific plan, if need be. If they have encroached into the limits of that area, they will design a footing, if it has to go down 15 feet, it will. That’s the way they are trying to address the issue. Alderman Clemmons asked about the number of lots. Mr. Reich answered that it is two lots. One side and two have it in the front yard, outside the right-of-way, but before you get to the building. Mr. Reich didn’t have the exact numbers, but said it was 15-25 feet behind the right-of- way. There was one property line that it went down beside, between lots #9 and #10. Mr. asked if this was a usual process. Mr. Reich stated that the developer has indicated this to him. Mr. Reich referred to Mr. Ben Lunnen. Mr. Lunn explained that they do a lot of their sub development and they do it every time. They go to the property line and dig where they know the house isn’t going to be. He stated they always have to borrow dirt. Mr. Reich explained that the top several inches of the topsoil is not considered—where there is grass, tree roots, organics, etc.
These materials are not suitable for building a house on. This is the material that is put back in the pit. The question was raised about when this was done. Mr. Reich informed that this was done two months ago. Following a question, Mr. Reich confirmed that the area was off of Brookstone. Regarding the trenches for water lines and sewer lines, Mr. Reich observed that these were compacted properly. There are some erosion control devices that could be construed as pits. They have silk fence and burlap going through them. These are temporary devices and will be removed. These are to collect sediment off of the subdivision. This is the standard, typical design for the protection of the area downstream of where these devices are. The question was asked about how many homes would be built and whether there would be a model home on site. At this point, Mayor Bundren asked whether the Board would consider moving Public Comment to this part of the meeting agenda. Alderman Crouse made the recommendation to go ahead with Public Comment and there was Board consensus to do that.
Lawson Brown addressed the Board. He practices law with the Vernon Law Firm and represents the developer. It was his pleasure, years ago, to draft the restrictive covenants for Heritage Glen and represent Cornerstone Properties when this development came through. At that time, they were meeting in the church. There were more people present, against the development then, than there are tonight. Some things don’t change. D.R. Horton is one of the largest homebuilders in the country. They have an excellent track record on building the products that they build. It is the understanding, per the restrictive covenants, that they will follow the restrictive covenants for the various type features that are mandated by the restrictive covenants. Under the restrictive covenants, the developer rights, under 3B-6, are transferable. They are working with the Homeowner’s Association and the prior owner to have those transferred. That is not a matter of municipal ordinance, but it is a matter that allows the developer to have a model home. Mr. Brown and Attorney Koonts discussed model homes this afternoon. There are various options that he and his client are going to be looking at. He hopes to work with Mr. Koonts and the council on how best to resolve this. Clearly, a spec home could be built, with a sign “For Sale” in it, either manned or unmanned by a realtor, or for making specific appointments. Or there could be a model home, or there could be a model home with offices. It is too early in the process to make that decision and make a representation as to exactly how that will happen. There have been a number of conversations with the Homeowners’ Association officers and the developer about transfer of developer rights. They really haven’t addressed the issue of model home or office, etc. Mr. Brown stated that he would like the public to know that this is where he is, with the developer. He would like to be able to come back to the Board with a concrete suggestion on how they would like to handle it. If an ordinance change is necessary, then they would go with a recommendation to the Board. It is important that Heritage Glen be built out. It is important for the neighbors, the Village, and important to Mr. Brown’s client. Mr. Brown thanked the Board.
Dr. Peter Clark, a resident of Heritage Glen at 4568 Freedom Drive, addressed the Board. He asked for clarification regarding the developer rights and restrictive covenants. Alderman Clemmons responded. He informed that the restrictive covenants are with the Homeowners’ Association, which is different from the Village. He referred to a copy provided by Mr. Dan Tichy, observing that they are easily obtainable online. Restrictive covenants are different than the Village. Dr. Clark asked if they were not a matter of discussion at the meeting. Alderman Clemmons stated that the Board does not have any say regarding the restrictive covenants. Dr. Clark asked if this was also true for the developer rights. Attorney Koonts addressed this question. He informed that the developer rights are under the restrictive covenants. These are private rights, contract rights. This includes the types of things such as square footage and the exterior of the house. The restrictive covenants can be obtained from the Homeowners’ Association. The HOA representatives will be working with the developer on that. The Village controls the zoning. All of that area is zoned R-15. What Mr. Reich spoke about relates to making sure, that when streets are put in and water and sewer lines are put in, that everything is done according to code and specifications. The developer has been working to make sure that happens in the appropriate way. The Village wants it done right; the developer wants it done right. The only other thing the Village controls is approving the plats as they come in. There is already a plat approved for this subdivision. It was done as part of the entire subdivision; approved at the very beginning. As they roll this out in phases, the Village will be approving the plats. This may be 10 lots, 11 lots, however many they bring at any given time. This is more of an administrative review, in that the Village goes through setback lines, makes sure the roads are where they are supposed to go, and all the basics are reviewed. There is a lot of detail and engineering to that. The Village will make sure these are done right. However, the Village does not control whether they put brick or siding on a house, or how many square feet are in the house, or what design they use, or how many designs they use. Dr. Clark asked if a model home was a real estate office that is manned by sales personnel. Attorney Koonts responded that the Village does control how that property is used—that is zoning. The use is under R-15, the designation as a residential area. It can be for residential use. The only exception to that, in the ordinance, is a home occupation. This is using part of your house as an office. There are a lot of criteria and a lot of restrictions. One of which is that no sales take place there. They have not had a proposal from the developer, as to what they intend to do. The Village has approved one lot in the front of the subdivision. All that has been approved is setback lines and that it is residential use. Dr. Clark asked if that one lot had been approved for sales. Attorney Koonts stated that it has only been approved for a house, a residence. Dr. Clark reported that what he has been hearing sounds like sales offices; a model home, a spec home. Attorney Koonts responded that when the Village approves a lot, the zoning is on there. It can be used for residential use. If anyone tries to build a business on that lot, there would be a zoning problem. They would go through the enforcement procedures to handle that zoning. Dr. Clark asked if this was not an issue tonight. Attorney Koonts responded that there hasn’t been any proposal. Alderman Clemmons stated that they know this is coming. Mayor Bundren observed that the attorney, Mr. Brown, had said they would decide on whether to ask for a spec home manned or unmanned, or for a model home. This is when the Board can say “Yes” or “No.” Dr. Clark thanked the Board.
Kristen Gainey, 3435 Brookstone Drive, addressed the Board next. She stated that she thought D.R. Horton had come to the Homeowners’ Board and asked for changes in the covenants, in terms of the frontage on the house. In spirit, that is very different that one is going to follow the covenants. Pertaining to what the Board does, there are two issues of concern. Basically, the traffic level is one. They are wondering about putting in speed tables and, also a second entrance. Mayor Bundren reported there was a conversation years ago about this, but the Fire Department has an issue with the speed bumps. Ms. Gainey expressed concern about 25 homes in the first phase, with probably 2 cars per home. That would be 50 more cars coming through each morning and evening; 100 cars per day. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy commented that, as part of the engineering review, they are looking at an emergency entrance into Heritage Glen, off of Baptist Church Loop. This would be for emergency vehicles only. It’s still in the engineering stage, but it is part of the planning that Mark Reich is doing. There was discussion of this last month. Ms. Gainey asked what would keep it from being a permanent entrance and referred to the other part being built. Alderman Clemmons stated that there are 52 lots. Ms. Gainey referred again to the number of potential cars. Mark Reich referred to the example of the emergency entrance at Highland Elementary School. It is not very visible. A grass material can be put in, that a fire truck can drive over. It’s a product that has been around for 15-20 years, and will allow a fire truck to access a road, or a subdivision, or a school. If there is an accident, there is emergency vehicle access. As far as traffic, the subdivision is being developed as approved with the preliminary plan. As long as the developer does not deviate from the preliminary plan, they are good to go ahead and develop the property. The approved emergency plan does not have the emergency ingress and egress in it. By fire code, you need two means of ingress and egress to have over 100 houses. There are over 100 houses out there now. This would provide a second means of ingress and egress, such that if there is an accident at the intersection of NC 62 and Heritage Glen Road, emergency vehicles would have another means of access. There was a lot of discussion back when the preliminary plan was approved. Mr. Reich is trying to follow the preliminary plan. Ms. Gainey expressed her thanks.
Jimmy Davis, 3136 Brookstone Drive, asked who would foot the bill if a bridge had to be built for emergency access. Mr. Reich answered that this would be at the developer’s expense. At the end of Alamance Baptist Church Loop Road, when you go back towards their property, there is a pond at the end of that road. There is a dam at the end of that road. Part of what would be looked at, and evaluated, from a soils engineering standpoint, is whether the dam would be suitable for that. That is the question. It would have to be evaluated. The developer has to pay for all the costs associated with the project, other than fees paid to the Engineer and the Attorney.
Paul Bobak, 3088 Heritage Lane, addressed the Board. He stated that he agreed with the others who have spoken about the second entrance. He spoke of the difficulties of getting through E.M. Holt at 8:00am in the morning. There are 3 roads there; he doesn’t know who designed it. It is a big accident waiting to happen. Mayor Bundren mentioned the proposed bypass that DOT is supposed to be building. She doesn’t know when this will move forward on the agenda. However, at some point, this is supposed to turn the cars right and go around the back side of that. Mr. Bobak asked about the speed limit from the bridge to E.M. Holt. There are signs that say 30mph, 35mph, and 45mph. There is no consistency. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy stated that DOT has made the speed 30mph until you reach the Post Office. After that, it is 35mph. Mr. Bobak stated that lowering the speed limit is holding up the traffic even more. The second entrance would help a lot with the traffic. There will be a lot of construction traffic going in and out. It’s a problem.
Jimmy Xoinis, 4559 Cornerstone Drive, addressed the Board next. He stated that a lot of the people present at the meeting are concerned about the quality of homes that will be built. Everybody is concerned about that. You can look at the reviews and ratings for D.R. Horton. One of the reasons they moved to the neighborhood is because of the quality of homes built by Randy Faircloth and the other developers. They are concerned about seeing houses built up, changing covenants to suit developers’ needs; lathe and vinyl siding, if that is the case; bad brickwork, etc. that will depreciate homes in the neighborhood. This is a big concern for them, because they just put a lot of money into their house. They had no idea this would go to a developer who has less than stellar ratings. It may be alright with the Better Business Bureau, but many homeowners have had bad experiences. Mr. Xoinis stated that he was not personally attacking the gentleman here tonight. There are many people who are concerned who have not spoken up yet. It has been buzzing through the neighborhood and everyone is worried. They have seen problems at Brightwood, MacIntosh, and a lot of other developments. The problems are on the web. The D.R. Horton representative interjected that nobody rated anybody “good” on the Internet. He asked if anyone had seen good ratings on the Internet. The audience responded loudly, in the affirmative.
Dan Tichy, 3568 Liberty Drive, President of the Heritage Glen Homeowners’ Association, addressed the Board. At the time that the mailing went out for the meeting, they did not know that D.R. Horton was the developer. McPherson Grading, technically, is developing the land at this time. They are putting in all of the infrastructure. Since then, Mr. Tichy has talked to Ben and Elizabeth Ward. They started talking about the covenants. They are not looking to change the covenants. Covenants 1-4 exist and will not be changed. There are Meadows, Cornerstone, and Estate rules. They will be building to those rules. Those rules are square footage, lot setbacks, roof pitches (only in the Estate section), brick or other masonry products. These type issues are addressed in the covenants. They will build to those specs. A lot of houses in Heritage Glen are brick. That is correct. Over the last 10 years, everyone has upgraded to brick. There are other masonry products. Mrs. Gainey’s house is Hardy plank. Howard talks about it all the time; he loves it. Hardy plank is a masonry product. It exists in the neighborhood. D.R. Horton has said they will use it. They cannot turn around and say, “Unless you build a brick house, you can’t build here.” Dan Tichy assured that they will go through the plans, line by line, to make sure they are to the covenants. They will interpret everything as best as they can, and follow what is written. He can only read what the words are in those covenant restrictions. He promised that the Board has been on top of this. They have finally gotten the plans. He wishes he would have had this turnout the other night. Maybe some of the concerns would have been alleviated. Mayor Bundren offered the use of the Town Hall meeting room to the Homeowners’ Association. She stated that they couldn’t continue a long discussion of homeowner issues. Dan Tichy plans to have Mr. Brown contact their HOA lawyer, who has been involved from the beginning. The lawyer is looking at the covenants. He will talk to Mr. Brown and make sure that all is followed. Dan Tichy wants to put the rumors to bed. They will follow the covenants. He does not have control over who builds in their neighborhood, but he can hold them to the covenants. He lives there. His parents live there. His uncle lives there. His grandfather did live there. They all have some investment. He is emotionally attached as well. They are doing 110%. The audience applauded at the conclusion of Dan Tichy’s remarks.
The D.R. Horton representative spoke. He said the issue that does matter is the model home. Mr. Horton loves the neighborhood and doesn’t want to change the architecture, or anything like that. It has been harder not to try to change anything. All they want to do is have a model home that is a representation of what they do. It is a town matter. Can there be compromise? That is what they want to do. Someone is going to come and build houses in the neighborhood. If he doesn’t, Keystone Homes or others will. Everybody is lined up to buy in your neighborhood. It is a beautiful place. Somebody is coming to build there. Mr. Conner interjected: “You don’t live there, so you don’t understand.” The D.R. Horton representative responded that he has done this 100 times and does understand.
Rick Bellamy, 3003 Amesbury Court, addressed the Board. His property backs up to where some of these homes are being built. He has tried for some time to determine who is grading, who is building back there. No one could tell him. His concern is the truthfulness, the honesty, and integrity that has taken place here. Mayor Bundren asked Mr. Bellamy to whom he was speaking. He responded that he was not speaking of the Board, but asked what the Board knew and when. Mayor Bundren replied that they knew it was McPherson Grading. Mr. Bellamy expressed his thanks.
Ben Lunnen, D.R. Horton, asked about the rules for the model home. He stated he didn’t understand why it was such an issue. Alderman Clemmons responded that it is a business. Between $12-$15 million dollars, potentially, will go through that; it’s a business. That’s more than any business in Alamance is doing, other than maybe C.T. Nassau. The Board still has to talk about it. They still have to hear from Lawson Brown. It’s in the back of the neighborhood. A lot of people would be coming through for sales events. A lot of people come through for Halloween, but they are prepared for it. They hire deputies for that one event. A lot of people would come through for sales events. It is a business. Mr. Lunnen stated it was no different from an open house. The audience replied noisily in opposition to that statement. Mayor Bundren asked Mr. Lunn if he was asking for a model home. Mr. Lunn replied that they would like to have one. They would like it staffed from 10:00am to 6:00pm every day, 1:00pm-6:00pm on Sundays. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy responded that this was a business. This was not allowed under the zoning, without making an exception. It is not an allowed use of the property. They have to present what they want to do, to the Board. At this time, it is not an allowed use of the property. A spec house, that is not manned, is probably an allowed use of the property. When you compare it to an open house—the person running it is the homeowner. He is running the open house as a function of his residence. D.R. Horton would be running it as a business. There is a major difference, in terms of total scope. Mr. Lunn asked about the process for asking for a model home. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy replied that Mr. Brown already knows it and has said he will approach the Board on it. D.R. Horton must give the Board a proposal on what they want to do. Mr. Lunn replied that they will do that.
Patrick Gooch, 3001 Londonberry Court, addressed the Board next. It was his understanding that the Board was going to hear D.R. Horton tonight about whether they would have a model home. He asked if they were not, and that was it. He also heard that they are trying to buy all of the land. Mr. Gooch asked if they had already done that. He asked if D.R. Horton already owned the property. Alderman Gregory stated anything other than city ordinances is not the Board’s business. They don’t know who owns it. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy reminded that D.R. Horton has not officially asked the Board to put up a model home and run a business in that location. They know that it is not allowed. That is why their lawyer is looking into it. It will probably be addressed at the next meeting. It will require a decision from this Board, based on what they want to do. What has happened tonight, is that someone in Heritage Glen put notices on mailboxes. He doesn’t know where they got the information. It was never on the agenda for tonight. There is a lot of false information floating around on this. For example, the idea that the Board was deciding on a model home tonight. It has not yet been asked of the Board and is not on the agenda. He is not saying people cannot talk and ask questions. The Board does not want these rumors to exist, if correct information can be provided. The question was raised about who owns the property. It is owned by SGRM Corporation. The Board doesn’t know who the principals of that are; the managing partner is the McPhersons. That is who the Board is dealing with on the road construction. Mark Reich is doing an excellent job for the Village. He is doing inspections and checks to make sure that all rules are complied with. They will continue to do that. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy has talked with Dan Tichy about the homeowner issues. The Board for the Village does not have the ability to alter or enforce homeowner restrictions. In general, the homeowner restrictions are more restrictive than the Village zoning restrictions. It is basically up to the Homeowners’ Association. The Village restrictions would allow a mobile home on the lot. Mr. Gooch stated, that from the turnout, the Board could see that the homeowners do not want a model home. There is another election coming up. Mayor Bundren thanked Mr. Gooch.
At this point, Dan Tichy announced another Homeowners’ meeting in mid-December. They are targeting December 11th. Hopefully some things will be sorted out and they will have more answers. As of now, a lot is up in the air. All they know is that the land is being developed. Plans are finally coming across. From the planning standpoint, it is one big lot. It hasn’t been officially subdivided. They haven’t applied for an official plat yet. Dan Tichy encouraged homeowners to attend the meeting at the Civitan Center on December 11th. He will use Facebook and email to notify people.
Tom Wilson, 4579 Freedom Drive, addressed the Board. He asked if there was a public record of the sale of that property that is currently being constructed. Alderman Clemmons informed that you could go online to the Tax Department to see that. Mr. Wilson asked if this was recorded with the Village. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy stated it is owned by a holding corporation. Mr. Wilson said it seems to be a little under the cover of darkness. McPhersons is recorded but something bigger is going one. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy stated that McPherson is acting for SGRM. It is not the Board’s business and there is no easy way to find out who owns it. Whoever owns the property, no matter who it is, has the right to develop it. Alderman Clemmons added that it is not out of the ordinary for real estate businesses to set up different organizations for tax purposes. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy observed that the subdivision lines are all from the plat that was approved in 1998. It was last reviewed in 2006-2007, when the last revisions were made. Nothing has changed. Mayor Pro Tem Tichy thanked Mr. Wilson.
Jennifer Shaw, 4607 Freedom Drive, addressed the Board next. She asked why D. R. Horton was present if they were not about D.R. Horton. She has a friend that told her she would become her neighbor. She asked her friend about the builder. Her friend has already given money to D. R. Horton to hold a lot—one of the 52 lots. She is concerned how that is possible, if they don’t own the land. How are they taking deposits on land that they don’t own? Brad, D.R. Horton representative responded that this was just a position, not a specific lot on a specific piece of land. Ms. Shaw said her friend was told she would be closed and in her house by Memorial Day. D. R. Horton told her it would not be an issue. This is Ms. Shaw’s concern. She has a small house on the Meadows side. It’s 1627 square feet. Looking at D.R. Horton comps, compared to her house, they are building from $80.00-$90.00 per square foot. Ms. Shaw could not sell for that. She would lose money, and might as well give her house away. That is her concern. She knows D.R. Horton is trying to make a living. Ms. Shaw stated that this is her community; people are concerned. Mayor Bundren stated that she understood this, but the Board does not have control.
Jimmy Davis addressed the Board again. He asked how the homeowners would know when D. R. Horton would come before the Board. Alderman Gregory said that the Board has meetings on the fourth Monday of every month. The newspaper is notified and notice is placed on the door. Mayor Bundren said that due to Christmas, the December meeting is held on the third Monday of the December. The next Board meeting will be December 15. Everyone is welcome to attend. Clerk York said the meeting date is listed on the calendar that is sent out with the water bill. He said that citizens can also call the Town Hall if they would like to know the meeting date.
Mayor Bundren thanked those in attendance for voicing their concerns and said that they were welcome to stay for the rest of the meeting.
Report on Cabin Pump Station Project
Mark Reich said that he and Attorney Koonts have made some progress on the easements. Attorney Koonts said that the Shoffner easement is complete. They need to arrange a closing for Mr. Connett to sign his easement and receive payment. They have made progress with the Kirkpatrick easement. Both parties involved have been contacted and they are trying to work something out.
Appoint New Member to the Planning Board
Mayor Bundren said that a gentleman named Mike Baldwin was interested in filling the vacant position on the Planning Board. She invited Mr. Baldwin to speak to the Board. Mr. Baldwin said that he resides at 3001 Heritage Lane. He has lived there for 7 years. He is a former home builder who built several homes in Heritage Glen. He currently does home remodels. He is proud to live in Heritage Glen. Mayor Pro-Tem Tichy moved to appoint Mr. Baldwin to the Planning Board. Alderman Gregory seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mayor Bundren welcomed Mr. Baldwin to the Planning Board.
Mayor Bundren asked if everyone had had a chance to look at the nuisance ordinance. She asked if anyone had any changes to suggest. Seeing none, Mayor Bundren entertained a motion to approve the nuisance ordinance. Alderman Clemmons moved to approve the ordinance and Alderman Slaughter seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Allred said that both pump stations are working just fine. There was a collection system inspection the previous week. It was a training exercise for some of the inspectors and we were the guinea pigs. Everything was in compliance. We were being used as a model for training others which reflects well on the town. The THM/HAA5 sampling was done earlier this month. Unless we get the state to sign off on reduced monitoring, we will be doing Lead and Copper sampling next month. He has been doing some valve exercising. He will conduct a manhole inspection at the end of December.
There was no further Old Business.
Audit and Financial Statements
Becky Loy; Cobb, Ezekiel, and Loy
Mrs. Loy addressed the Board. The Board received an unqualified opinion. This means they did not find anything that caused concern over the accuracy of the information. They believe the financial statement accurately reflects the Village’s financial position. She began by referring to the narrative overview of the financial statement presented at the beginning of the audit document. She encouraged the Alderman to read this document.
General Fund The town has 1.7 to 1.8 million unrestricted General Fund cash on hand. This is a $199,000 increase from last year. The Town has a strong fund balance for a municipality this size. Revenue is up $25,000 from the previous year. Expenditures are up $32,000. Most of this is due to the cost of additional street paving. Mayor Bundren asked if the money used to pay for paving had come out of Powell Bill funds. Mrs. Loy said that that was correct. Mayor Bundren said that she just wanted that clarified for the record. Revenue exceeded expenditures by $237,000 over last year. This is consistent with previous years. $43,000 was transferred to the Capital Project Fund. The Board is well above the $19,000 required by the state to be kept in fund balance. The size of the fund balance is not unreasonable for a Town this size. There was not a lot of change from between this year and last year. Sales Tax is up and will continue to go up if there is an increase in population. This year saw a 4% increase in the tax levy. Part of this was due to the new change in the motor vehicle law that mandated that the tax and tags be paid at the same time. Alderman Clemmons said that this might cause us to be off a little in tax revenue at budget time because this money was collected in the first part of 2014 as opposed to the fall. The Town collects about $9,000 in revenue for every once cent in the tax rate.
Water and Sewer Fund Cash went up by $60,000. The value of the water and sewer system went down by $30,000. This is due to depreciation. The total value of the assets in the water fund are $4,000,000. Debt went down by $13,000. This represents the payment on the Village’s note. The amount of equity in the water and sewer fund is $3,800,000. The Village is taking in more in terms of cash than it is spending. For years the Village lost money in the water system. It is now in a cash surplus. There may be environmental concerns that come up in future years and the Village is well prepared for that. The Village operated on a loss this year. This is due to depreciation exceeding the cash surplus. Mayor Bundren asked if the State frowned on this. She said the state can see from the statement of cash flows that the Village is taking in more cash than it spends. As long as the Village is cash flow positive, they are going to be ok. They can see that the Village has improved over time. This is a proprietary fund. This means that the revenue is supposed to cover expenses and it has done that. The Village has a $300,000 fund balance. These are the numbers. They are consistent with last year. She commended the Board for the good report.
She went over the letters attached to the financial statement. There is one area the Board needs to keep an eye on. This is segregation of duties. Anytime there is only one person controlling all of the money going in and going out, you will be at a higher risk. Alderman Clemmons helps to lower the risk by doing the bank reconciliations alongside of Clerk York. This is an important piece because the bank reconciliation is an area which someone could use to cover up a fraud. Mayor Bundren also pointed out the Clerk York does not have the authority to sign checks. Only Mayor Bundren and Alderman Clemmons have that authority. Mrs. Loy said that was very important.
Mrs. Loy went on to say that she audited under the guidelines established by law. They look at the Village’s policies and procedures and make sure they are right and that they are being followed. They also review the journal entries. Some of the Village’s entries are converted from a cash basis to an accrual basis. This allows the Board to see their exact financial position as of June 30, 2014 if every dollar due to the Village was collected and the Village paid every expense it owed. This allows the state to clearly understand the Town’s financial position. Mrs. Loy said that they are not correcting errors. If they are constantly having to correct errors, then that would indicate a problem in the system. They did not find any issues with that. She asked if there were any questions. Seeing no questions, Mayor Bundren thanked Mrs. Loy for attending and presenting the audit.
The CD will be renewed tomorrow at .7%. This is above the interest rate placed on the CD last year.
Mayor Bundren asked if there was any other business.
Mark Reich presented a paper on inspection fees in other towns. Most towns have a plan fee and an inspection fee. The Village of Alamance has a plan review fee, water impact, and sewer impact fee. Graham charges a $100 per lot plan review fee and a $50 per lot final plat fee. The town is closer to Gibsonville in terms of its water connection fee. The other information presented related to inspection and infrastructure. Burlington charges a fee of $1.00 per inch of diameter of main size, for water and sewer only. Nothing is charged for streets or storm sewer.
Elon and Mebane have a policy where they charge based on the linear footage of street inspection. Their fees are shared fees; it is not to recoup the entire amount. Mr. Reich calculated that, if this project had been in Elon, based on linear footage in the first phase, the total would be $9154.00 that would have been collected. In the proposal that Mr. Reich presented to the Board a couple of months ago the fee would have been around $12,000.00. The planning review fees, that were prior to entering the construction phase, were paid out of the general budget. It’s probably getting closer to a 50-50 percentage. In Burlington, the fee would have been $14,162.00. Mayor Bundren asked Attorney Koonts if there was any way the Village could implement any of this. Attorney Koonts responded negatively, since the subdivisions have already been approved. This could be possible with new subdivisions. Mayor Bundren observed that since the Village was paying the inspector, it would behoove the Village to share that expense. Alderman Clemmons suggested that the Board think about a fee, for now. Mayor Bundren thanked Mr. Reich for the information.
Clerk York stated that he has a quote from C & J Utilities and can have them ready to start working. DOT will not do the repair. They look at it as a problem being caused by the manhole. Mayor Bundren asked for the amount of the quote. Clerk York replied that it was around $2800.00. Alderman Crouse added that they won’t know until they start digging, what this will involve. This is just a guess, hoping that they are covering all of their bases. Alderman Sharpe made the motion to move forward and hire C & J Utilities to do the repair. Alderman Slaughter seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Noreen Ray addressed the Board. She has property on Cardinal Lane. There is a vacant house beside of her property that is not being kept up. She asked if there was anything the Board could do, to clean up that yard. She inquired about codes. Mayor Bundren responded that the nuisance code covers this. Clerk York has tried to contact the owners. Mayor Bundren asked who the owners were. Clerk York replied that Linda Johnson owned the property. Ms. Ray informed that Ms. Johnson is in a rest home now. Clerk York stated that Ms. Johnson has people who look after things for her. He does not have a telephone number for them. He has tried to contact a relative, and left a message. Ms. Ray stated that she could provide a telephone number for a relative. Mayor Bundren said the only thing the Board could do is clean up the property and put a lien on it for the amount it cost to clean it up. That may be the only avenue. Alderman Crouse expressed that he felt sure if the people were spoken to, that they would take care of it. He wouldn’t want to put a lien on it. He suggested they try talking to them first. He couldn’t foresee Ms. Johnson’s sister and brother-in-law not doing the work. Clerk York will work on this, along with Alderman Sharpe. Ms. Ray thanked the Board.
Dan Tichy, President of the Heritage Glen Homeowners’ Association, thanked the Board for hearing the earlier public comments of residents at Heritage Glen.
Alderman Sharpe moved to adjourn and Mayor Pro Tem Tichy seconded. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned.