Building heights, commercial garbage discussed
In its work session meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Bryson City Town Board of Aldermen continued discussion on the introduction of a maximum building height restriction in town and on the town’s ordinance for garbage collection, primarily on how to handle commercial collection. For both subjects, the general consensus was taking a simpler approach would be best.
The town board is considering adoption of a local ordinance that would cap the maximum height of new buildings in town. The suggestion came from the town planning board and followed lengthy discussions about fire safety concerns around the four-story hotel in town that opened earlier this year, Stonebrook Lodge. Initially, the town was considering an ordinance that would set the height limit at 75 feet.
On Tuesday, Mayor Tom Sutton suggested instead of 75 feet, the board go with 55 feet.
“I’d agree because the reason we went with that is the existing hotel is on a bank,” said alderwoman Heidi Ramsey-Woodard.
“I’d like to look at it from a safety point of view,” said alderman Ben King. “Whatever ladder truck we get that should cover it if it’s 55 feet from grade level or the parking lot.”
King also suggested removing language about spires, water tanks, chimneys and other things that might be on the roof and se the 55 foot limit at the roof line itself. F
To confirm the reasoning, alderwoman Janine Crisp said, “So, we’re saying that’s as tall as a building we want to have in Bryson City Stonebrook Lodge height?”
King said, yes, although noting the building the meeting was taking place in, the Swain County Administration Building (formerly the federal courthouse) was also taller.
The board plans to set a public hearing for this ordinance and adopt it in advance of reviewing its Land Use Plan. Sutton said aesthetics may become more of a conversation in regard to building height at that time.
“The biggest thing is you don’t want someone to come in with vested rights between now and the Land Use Plan,” alderman Chad Smith noted.
The board was in general agreement with the reduced height restriction, but no action was taken Tuesday.
In another move to simplicity, Sutton suggested the town adopt an opt-in plan for its commercial trash system and set the commercial rate to $100 a month for those businesses who choose to participate. This suggestion followed discussion with alderman King and town manager Regina Mathis.
King explained the reasoning behind the suggestion. “We brought up tiers, and it gets very complicated. We’re trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to trash, and it’s going to be more complicated than it’s worth.”
The tier system the board previously discussed would put businesses in different groups based on the amount of trash they produced and charge different rates accordingly. The plan discussed also would include the purchase of town owned garbage cans and other equipment. The board acknowledged Tuesday that they saw a lot of potential issues with this option, from businesses contesting their tier to the cost of implementation.
This opt-in program, King said, would be much simpler for the town to manage, plus he noted.
Currently, the town offers commercial pick up 5 days a week at a mere cost of $27 a month, but that is charged to businesses across the board. This change could allow for a more fair system that also helps the town get closer to breaking even with the program, according to Sutton.
King said he’s even grappling with why the town should even be in the business of commercial garbage collection, given there’s nothing in the town charter or ordinances that requires it and other, larger municipalities don’t do it.
“I really struggle with the fact that larger municipalities find it it’s not a value to them to offer commercial trash, and we’re trying to build a business of commercial trash,” he said.
He also suggested pick up drop down to two days a week for commercial. Mathis suggested there be an opt-in period, say in July that would go for the whole year so businesses couldn’t just drop out during slower months.
The only questions I have I don’t know if it takes care of the problem of weekend trash, and if you scale it back to two days a week, I don’t think it solves that problem,” said alderman Smith.
King noted larger trash producers can go with renting dumpsters from private companies, like Anthony's Restaurant has done recently.
Alderwoman Crisp was skeptical about the proposed changes and urged more research to determine how much to charge and stepping down to three days a week to start.
“I think the smartest thing would be to take a smaller step down,” she said, adding that this has been a service the town has provided for years.
No decisions on the plans were made on Tuesday. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at the Swain County Administration Building (50 Main Street), third floor auditorium.