On Monday, March 4, the Town Board of Aldermen held its monthly meeting for the public to comment about their concerns and to discuss a variety of different issues. Among the agenda items were the possible opening of an indoor firing range and the approval of an updated nuisance ordinance.
Indoor firing range
Bob Simpson, owner of Bob Simpson Contracting and Mountain Firearms located on East Main Street, approached the board during the public comment period to discuss the proper route needed to take in order to open a sound proof indoor firing range. Simpson proposed using 10,000 square feet of the old Burcliff Industries building located on Ulco Drive. According to Simpson, the closest indoor ranges are located in Asheville and Brevard.
“There's no indoor training whatsoever. Our winter has been pretty rough,” said Simpson. “The advantages of this are that our local police departments will be able to use it, Southwestern will be able to use it—I think they have to go to Dillsboro to shoot, there's no education for our children, there's nowhere for the scouts to shoot.”
The range would be National Rifle Association (NRA) sanctioned, it would be insured and would employ certified instructors, according to Simpson. Simpson plans on putting a training space in the building as well as ranges for the public and believes it would provide about 20 jobs to the area.
According to a local ordinance, it is unlawful to shoot a gun inside the city limits. The ordinance itself resembles other ordinances across the state, but does not have an exception for commercial use, like a shooting range as some municipalities have.
The current zoning designation of the building is secondary commercial which allows for indoor recreational activities. The issue is whether the interpretation of the wording allows for an indoor firing range to fall under the title of indoor recreational activity and what to do about the original ordinance disallowing guns to be shot inside the city limits. Simpson was advised to work with Town Attorney John Henning Jr., and Town Planner Derek Roland to evaluate the zoning designation to see if it would prohibit an indoor firing range.
Under new business, Mayor Joe Collins signed a Proclamation for National Kids to Parks Day, a nationwide day of outdoor play organized by National Park Trust, to be held on May 18. The event is held in order to encourage children to lead a more active lifestyle to combat the issues of childhood obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Franklin joins more than 80 cities and towns that have already pledged to participate in the event. The organizers at National Park Trust hope to have more than 260 cities participating in the event.
Town Planner Derek Roland followed by recommending a public hearing date of Monday, April 1, for the rezoning of a portion of Pauline Avenue from a Residential (R1) to a Residential (R2). According North Carolina Statute, a public hearing is the required next step to rezoning issues.
The Angel Medical Center memorial garden will begin raising funds for construction as the Board of Aldermen instructed the town's legal department to move forward developing a long-term lease that would allow the hospital to place the memorial garden on property owned by the town that borders the hospital grounds. The terms of the lease will state that if the space being leased is ever anything besides a memorial garden, the piece of property will return to the town of Franklin.
New nuisance ordinance approved
The Board of Aldermen worked with Henning to develop a new nuisance ordinance within the Franklin city limits leading up to the March 4 meeting and unanimously voted to repeal what was already on the books and replace it with the updated version.
The ordinance states that it will be unlawful for an owner, lessee, or occupant of any property to create, maintain, permit or fail to abate any public nuisance as defined in the ordinance.
The new and improved nuisance ordinance prohibits among other things:
• grass or weeds more than ten inches within 100 feet of a principal structure or right-of-way;
• the accumulation of animal or vegetable matter that may become odorous or inhabited by unwanted animals;
• an accumulation of trash;
• open wells;
• any accumulation of stagnant water;
• open storage of any item that may cause harm to the public.
“The long story short is that the new ordinance enumerates a much more complete list of nuisances, and gives us a much more sophisticated process to follow in enforcing it,” said Henning.
Cabe gets amended contract
After retreating to a closed session for discussion of personnel matters, the board returned to unanimously approve a Town Manager Employment Agreement between the Town of Franklin and Warren Cabe that will take effect on April 1. The length of the agreement had previously been for one year but has now been reduced to 180 days.
By entering the agreement and therefore taking on the role of Town Manager, Cabe agrees to serve the wishes of the Board of Aldermen, while complying with the United States Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, the North Carolina General Statutes, and all regulations, policies, and ordinances of the Town.
Cabe is also given the authority to expend any necessary funds during times of emergency, subject to resolutions and policies set by the board. In return for his services, he will receive an annual salary compensation of $85,000 and will not be eligible for overtime pay.
Under the listed benefits of the agreement, the new Town Manager will accrue vacation days at a rate of 30 days per year, and any days over the maximum allowed time will be transferred to his sick leave account. He will also be entitled to attend any additional educational activities without loss of pay and at the expense of the Town.
The board will also allow Cabe a $500 per month travel reimbursement and he will be reimbursed based on mileage if the need to travel outside of Macon County occurs. He will also be given a cell phone if he so chooses, or monthly expenses will be paid by the town.
Since the job will require Cabe’s full attention, he will not be allowed to accept other forms of employment during the span of the contract unless otherwise approved on the condition that it does not interfere with his manager duties. The agreement may be terminated without cause by the town or Cabe upon 180 days notice. In the event of being found guilty of any fraud, felony, or act involving moral turpitude, gross negligence or willful misfeasance or malfeasance in the performance of his duties, the board will have the right to terminate him immediately.
The agreement may be amended by mutual agreement of Cabe and the Board of Aldermen.