The Farmville Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, April 5, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building Courtroom with Mayor John Moore presiding. Present for the meeting were Commissioners Alma Hobbs, Bert Smith, Brenda Elks, David Shackleford and Jamin Dixon; Town Attorney Christopher Edwards, Town Manager David Hodgkins and Town Clerk Amy B. Johnson.
Mayor Moore called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
Code Enforcement Officer Paul Ellis offered the invocation, which was followed by the pledge of allegiance to the flag led by Commissioner Jamin Dixon.
Mayor Moore recognized Ashanti Williams, who resides at 3740 Dr. Jones Road in Farmville.
Ms. Williams informed the Board of an upcoming fundraising event called the Autism Extravaganza, which will be held at the Babe Ruth Baseball field, on April 17, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., to bring awareness to autism. She stated all funds raised will go to Sugg Bundy’s Exceptional Children’s Program.
Mayor Moore recognized Celia Stone, who resides at 3264 North Waverly Street in Farmville.
Mrs. Stone expressed her concern over the road conditions in the area where the Basin 5 Sanitary Sewer Improvements project is currently ongoing. She also stated the front door to the Farmville Community Center was a very heavy door, and the seniors would like for the door to be replaced or for the Town to go back to letting them go in the back door.
Town Manager’s Comments
Town Manager Hodgkins made the following comment(s) to the Board:
- The conversion to well water from GUC water in currently in process. Town Staff are flushing hydrants now and that will go on the next couple of weeks, so customers may experience a strong chlorine smell for the time being.
- The new Library Building is almost complete and should open in the next couple of weeks.
Finance Director Amy Johnson provided the financial report for the month of March, 2021.
Changes/Additions/Deletions to Agenda
Mayor Moore asked if there were any additional changes to the agenda.
Mayor Moore requested for the following changes to the evening’s agenda:
- Addition of Agenda Item #15- Financial Arrangement for Recreation Department
Commissioner Smith made a motion to accept the above changes to the agenda. The motion carried unanimously.
Mayor Moore asked for a motion to accept the evening’s agenda.
Commissioner Smith made a motion to accept the agenda as presented with the approved changes. The motion carried unanimously.
1. Proclamation Declaring April as National Poetry Month in Farmville
Mayor John Moore presented a proclamation declaring April as National Poetry Month in Farmville.
Commissioner Dixon read two poems, one titled “Dad” and the second one titled “Advice to Husbands.”
Commissioner Hobbs read a poem written by Dr. Benjamin May which was titled “I Have Only Just a Minute.”
Items for Consent
2. Approval of Minutes
To approve the minutes from the following session(s):
- February 22, 2021- Retreat Session 1
- February 23, 2021- Retreat Session 2
- March 1, 2021- Regular Session
3. Appointment of Planning Board Member- Todd Edwards
To adopt a resolution appointing Todd Edwards to the Farmville Planning Board.
4. Reschedule Regular July Board of Commissioners Meeting to June 28, 2021
To approve the rescheduling of July Board of Commissioners meeting to June 28, 2021.
5. Reschedule Regular September Board of Commissioners Meeting to August 30,
To approve the rescheduling of September Board of Commissioners meeting to August 30, 2021.
On motion by Commissioner Hobbs, the Board adopted/approved the following:
- Approved the minutes from the February 22, 2021 Retreat session 1, the February 23, 2021 Retreat session 2 and the March 1, 2021 Regular session
- Adopted Resolution (2021) 1500, Appointing Advisory Board Member- Farmville Planning Board (Todd Edwards)
- Approved the rescheduling of the July Board meeting to June 28, 2021
- Approved the rescheduling of the September Board meeting to August 30, 2021
Items for Discussion
6. Consideration of Reducing the Minimum Lot Size for the Keeping of Chickens
Within the Town Limits
Planning Director Justin Oakes stated after the initial trial period of allowing chickens to be kept in Town for lot sizes 0.5 acres or more, the staff is recommending the opening up of chicken permits to the next group, those living on lots of 0.25-0.49 acres. Oakes added that individuals in this category would still be held to the agreed upon setbacks and chicken limits that were adopted at the August Town Board meeting.
Commissioner Elks made a motion to approve the addition of 0.25-0.49 acre lots to those allowed to apply for Chicken/Coop Permit. The motion carried unanimously.
7. Consideration of Approval of Final Plat for Dalton’s Cove Subdivision- Phase 1
Planning Director Justin Oakes stated Planning staff, along with the Town Engineer, have completed their reviews of the final plat for Phase 1 of Dalton’s Cove Subdivision. He requested Board approval of the final plat in order for the plat to be recorded, addresses to be assigned, and building permits to be issued.
Commissioner Hobbs made a motion to approve the final plat for Phase 1 of Dalton’s Cove Subdivision. The motion carried unanimously.
8. Consideration of Amendment to the Farmville- Greene County Wastewater Agreement
Rich Moore, from McDavid Associates, stated Greene County has an active agreement with the Town to pump wastewater to the Town. Moore further stated Greene County has recently completed a Community Development Block Grant – Infrastructure project that provided sewer to the Hedgefield Community and added customers to Greene County’s system that pumps wastewater to the Town of Farmville. Due to this, Moore said an Amendment No. 1 to the Agreement to Accept Wastewater has been prepared for the Town Board’s consideration for approval to include payment from Greene County for the acceptance of additional wastewater discharge.
On motion by Commissioner Smith, the Board approve the Resolution (2021) 1501, Amendment No. 1- Agreement to Accept Wastewater between County of Greene and Town of Farmville. The motion carried unanimously.
9. Consideration of a Resolution to Authorize Application for a Grant Through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for Assistance to Replace Substandard Sanitary Sewer Lines
Rich Moore, from McDavid Associates, stated the Division of Water Infrastructure is accepting applications on April 30, 2021 under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. Based on established criteria, Moore said that Farmville is eligible for a 100% grant for a sanitary sewer project. A recommended a scope by Moore includes replacing existing sanitary sewer lines along Moore Street and South Barrett Street. He asked the Town Board to approve a resolution Authorizing Application to Division of Water Infrastructure.
On motion by Commissioner Dixon, the Board approved Resolution (2021) 1502, Resolution Approving Clean Water State Revolving Fund Application. The motion carried unanimously.
10. Consideration of Amendments to the Farmville Library Meeting Room Use Policy
Library Director David Miller stated that the Farmville Public Library’s Meeting Room Use Policy needs amending to recognize and account for the new meetings spaces in the new library facility, the new and convenient methods to reserve meeting space, to adopt a meeting room use fee schedule for the new meeting spaces, and to align itself with existing Town meeting room and rental policy.
Commissioner Elks made a motion to approve the amendment to the Farmville Library Meeting Room Use Policy. The motion carried unanimously.
11. Consideration of Amendments to the Farmville Community Center Use Policy
Recreation Director Diane White stated that the Farmville Community Center’s Operating and Rental Policy needs amending to recognize and account for the upcoming aesthetic modifications to both the building and meeting space in the facility. White added that the fee schedule will align with the Library’s and will include the cost of a facility attendant at the Community Center during times of use.
Commissioner Elks made a motion to approve the Farmville Community Center Use Policy. The motion carried unanimously.
12. Consideration of Granting an Easement from Town of Farmville to Alma Hobbs
to Access Property Adjacent to the Farmville Community Center
Planning Director Justin Oakes stated that the Town received a request to grant an easement across a portion of the parking lot and adjacent grounds of Parcel No. 01823, on which is situated the Farmville Community Center. Oakes further stated, Alma Hobbs, the grantee, owns an adjacent parcel on which she wishes to construct a pavilion as an events facility, and which bears an address of 3615 South Walnut Street in Farmville and is identified by Pitt County Parcel No. 12663, but which lacks direct access from either South Walnut Street or South Main Street.
Commissioner Hobbs asked to be excused from voting due to a conflict of interest with this agenda item.
Commissioner Dixon made motion to allow Commissioner Hobbs to be excused from voting on this agenda item. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Smith made a motion to grant the easement across a portion of the Community Center parking lot and property to serve the adjacent lot. The motion carried unanimously with Dixon, Smith, Shackelford and Elks voting in the affirmative and Commissioner Hobbs abstaining.
13. Consideration of Extension of Emergency FMLA Leave for COVID Related
Town Manager Hodgkins requested consideration to extend the FMLA Emergency Sick Leave for employees impacted by COVID-19 through September 30, 2021.
On motion by Commissioner Elks, the Board approved the extension of FMLA Emergency Sick Leave for employees impacted by COVID-19 through September 30, 2021. The motion carried unanimously.
14. To Consider Text Amendments to Chapter 11 of the Code of Ordinances
Regarding Food Truck Requirements and Add Commercial Food Vendors
Planning Director Justin Oakes stated the public hearing this evening was on a proposed ordinance amendment to Chapter 111 of the Code of Ordinances of the Town of Farmville. Oakes further stated the amendment includes the addition of a Commercial Food Vendors Definition, removal of Annual Food Truck Permits, amendment to Daily Permit Fees ($125 daily), addition of limits on days of operation allowed per week (2 days), addition of limits on number of Food Trucks operating in town per day (2 per day), amendment of distance requirement from truck to brick and mortar (100 ft. from nearest parcel boundary of existing restaurant), and the additional of zoning requirements for Commercial Vendors and Food Trucks (not allowed to operate in the CBD, only in HBD). In closing, Oakes informed the Board that the Planning Board recommends a reduction in the $125 daily permit fee for Food Trucks.
Mayor Moore opened the public hearing at 7:16 p.m.
Mark Shirley, who resides at 2000 Evermade Farm Road in Walstonburg, requested to yield his 3-minute time to speak to his attorney, Billy Strickland.
Billy Strickland, attorney for Mark Shirley, stated his business resides at 112 North Williams Street in Goldsboro. Mr. Strickland stated that the two Commissioners who have a conflict of interest that are going to excuse themselves from voting tonight, should also excuse themselves from the discussion as well so that they don’t sway the voting.
Town Attorney Christopher Edwards agreed with Mr. Strickland on the Commissioners needing to excuse themselves from the discussion as well as the voting.
Commissioner Bert Smith requested permission to be excused from discussion and voting due to conflict of interest.
Commissioner Elks made a motion to allow Commissioner Smith to be excused from discussion and voting. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Jamin Dixon requested permission to be excused from discussion and voting due to conflict of interest.
Commissioner Hobbs made a motion to allow Commissioner Dixon to be excused from discussion and voting. The motion carried unanimously.
Strickland stated the proposed ordinance which proposes a $125 daily permit fee for food trucks is excessive and above any town/city in this area. He stated the law does allow governments to enact ordinances as long as it does not infringe on the liberties granted by the State Constitution or the Federal government. He said the State Constitution allows individuals to conduct a lawful business or earn a livelihood without the government suppressing it by excessive over regulation. Strickland presented several case laws which he suggested would prohibit actions like this (targeting one business) and stated that the law prohibits economic protectionism, which is exactly what the Town Board is proposing to do to Mr. Shirley’s business with this proposed ordinance. He also asked the Board to think about how this proposed ordinance will affect other businesses in Town like a mobile ice cream truck, Girl Scout cookie sales, Parkers Barbeque catering at church events, Meals on Wheels, etc.
Jonathon Riggs, who resides on Highway 121, stated he is the Chairman of the Libertarian Party in Pitt County. He first thanked the two Commissioners for excusing themselves from the discussion and voting this evening due to conflict. He expressed that the proposed ordinance is over regulation and border line oppressive. Per Riggs, the Libertarian Party has been investigating into this situation and talked with several citizens and are very concerned. He asked for the Town Board to think about what is being proposed and the fee going from a $100 annual permit fee to a $125 daily permit fee. He suggested that the Board give the proposed ordinance more consideration due to being poorly written and could be interpreted different ways that the Board may not intend. Riggs stated that it is the party’s opinion that the Town Board is trying to control diversity with this proposed ordinance and suggested that citizens speak with their wallets and their stomachs of what foods they want to see in this town. He said no business is going to stay around that is not profitable. Riggs asked that the Board take individual and economic liberties into account. He concluded by stating this situation is “conviction by over restriction.”
Etsil Mason, who resides 4192 West Lang Street in Farmville, expressed her belief that the Town has a habit of sometimes putting itself “in a bubble” which restrains progress. As long as efforts like this ordinance keep getting approved, Mason said, Farmville will keep restricting growth in this community. She stated she understands the protecting brick and mortar restaurants but in turn, the Board is prohibiting its citizens from taking advantage of a variety of foods, which is a right they deserve to have. Mason stated that she believes the ordinance is well meant but too restrictive for healthy competition.
Shonta Hopkins, who resides at 4347 Bakers Boulevard, Apartment D in Farmville, expressed her belief the Town is in desperate need for economic growth and needs a larger variety of food options. She stated it was shameful that the Town has the mentality of not allowing for growth. She asked the Board to listen to what is being said by citizens this evening because they would like to see new businesses here.
There being no further comments, Mayor Moore closed the public hearing at 7:35 p.m.
Mayor Moore commented that this Board is designing this ordinance to welcome food trucks to Farmville.
Commissioner Elks stated she did not agree with an annual permit fee and did support a daily fee, but not a $125 daily permit fee. She stated that she would agree to a $50 daily fee, with her maximum being a $75 daily fee.
Commissioner Hobbs stated she agreed with Commissioner Elks on the minimum and maximum amounts presented for daily permit fees, but she expressed her concern that maybe more time to review/revise and research the ordinance is needed.
Commissioner Elks stated she believed this issue needs to be dealt with this evening.
Commissioner Hobbs said she would agree to the $75 daily fee if the Board would consider eliminating the limit on the number of food trucks which can operate intown on a given day.
After a discussion, Commissioner Hobbs made a motion to approve the ordinance as amended with changing the daily permit fee to $75 and eliminating the limit on the number of Food Trucks that are allowed to operate per day. With this motion, the Board adopted Ordinance (2021) 975, An Ordinance to Amend the Code of Ordinances, Title IX, Chapter 111, Peddlers and Solicitors, To Add. The motion carried 3 to 0, with Commissioners Hobbs, Elks and Shackleford voting in the affirmative and Commissioners Dixon and Smith abstaining from voting.
15. Financial Arrangement for Recreation Department
Mayor Moore asked for the Board to consider allowing any funds that are raised from food truck permits to be used for Recreation into a separate line item to be able to supply kids, who cannot afford it, with recreation equipment like a baseball, glove, or shoes. Moore asked for this agenda item to be placed on the May agenda.
Mayor Moore asked for citizen comments at this time.
Celia Stone asked for more detailed information on the fee changes to the Library and Community Center use policies.
Library Director David Miller stated the new fee schedules will be addressed in the next Town newsletter.
Shonta Hopkins expressed her concern over Town Board not listening to the citizens and really hearing what they want and need. She also expressed her belief that South Farmville is suffering from decades of neglect.
On motion by Commissioner Dixon, the meeting was adjourned at 8:12 p.m. The motion carried unanimously.