SUGAR MOUNTAIN — Village Manager Susan Phillips updated the council on two bills in the General Assembly that would reduce the village’s ability to enforce its own ordinances during the latest meeting of the Sugar Mountain Village Council.
As the first order of business, the council approved a budget amendment to purchase a roof mower, as well as to complete the paving for a golf course cart path. Funds were provided by the village’s Tourism Development Authority (TDA). The council also updated the dates for its budget meetings for May 25 and June 27.
As part of new business, the council approved the Toe River Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Phillips said that the plan helps towns and municipalities prepare for the event of a disaster and how to go about applying for funds from government agencies.
“(The approval of the plan) is a requirement for continued eligibility for federal and state funding if we did have a disaster. There has to be a hazard mitigation plan in place, and every 10 years it has to be updated. It’s already been approved by federal and state agencies, now it’s just a matter of individual, local municipalities adopting it,” Phillips said.
Phillips then gave her monthly report, which she informed the council of two bills that have been introduced in the state legislature. One bill would strip away the ability for local governments to enforce tree ordinances without authority from the General Assembly.
“It’s probably developers lobbying for clear-cutting property, and I think it would be a good idea to have a resolution sent to our representatives saying that we’re opposed to that,” Phillips said.
“We should fight that all we can,” Mayor Gunther Jochl responded.
With other council members in agreement, Phillips said the other bill would take away the ability for municipalities to enforce single-family residential zoning laws.
“Property owners could then put most anything that they want (on their land). They would take away from our neighborhood setting, and they could put commercial businesses up, along with their single family home,” Phillips said.
Phillips also updated the council on Chapter 160D, which refers to the updating of the NC General Statutes that contain the rules for how local jurisdictions can regulate development through areas such as zoning and subdivisions. Phillips said the updated law clarifies areas of authority and modernizes state rules for planning and development. The planning board will review and made recommendations to the council based on the changes, and the council will need to consider setting a public hearing for the changes by July 1.
In other news, the final payment on the loan for the golf course pro shop has been made. The original loan agreement, which was entered into in 2012, was for $365,683. The golf course reopened on Friday, April 23, with several trees having been planted on the course and cart paths on holes one, six, seven, nine and 17 having been resurfaced.
Ritzman Courts have begun refurbishing the tennis courts this past week and is planned to be completed the first week of May before the courts open for the 2021 season on Monday, May 10.
Master Builders have begun refurbishing the Village Kiosk on Sugar Mountain Drive, which includes replacing the roof, siding and lighting on the existing structure. New information boards and signage will be installed in addition to the completion of new landscaping and re-graveling the parking lot.
The Planning and Zoning Board met on Thursday, March 25, and continues working on an update to the Sugar Mountain Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The board also made a recommendation in regard to regulating the size of accessory buildings in relation to the primary structure at 80 percent. Additionally, the board worked on a sign ordinance amendment to regulate commercial signs located on US 184 and 105 in relation to lighting and materials.
February collections of the occupancy tax showed an increase of 88 percent in comparison to February 2020. From March 2020 to February 2021, occupancy tax collections ($810,297) have increased by 107 percent in comparison to the same span of time the previous year.
The planned Mountain Electric power outage is set for 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, and is expected to last until 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The outage is necessary to shift the current load from the aged Cranberry Substation to a temporary substation for the purpose of refurbishing the current substation.
The Sugar Mountain Police Department has entered into an agreement with Lexipol, a Texas-based company that will work to update the department’s operating policies and procedures. The company provides training and works to update policies as the law changes in order to reduce liability to the village.
“I cannot image any higher liability area for any town that liability associated with law enforcement services,” Police Chief David Henson said.