Chapel Hill board approves zoning change for distillery

Friday, June 2, 2017
Chapel Hill Town Attorney Todd Moore and Aldermen Mike Faulkenberry and Dottie Morton at the town’s special called meeting on Wednesday night. The board touched on next year’s budget as well as zoning changes to allow a proposed distillery project to move forward.
Tribune Photo by Scott Pearson

Chapel Hill’s special called meeting on Wednesday night wasn’t long, but nothing on the agenda was easy.

Mayor Danny Bingham had barely gaveled the meeting to order before Alderman Marion Joyce questioned if sufficient notice had been given of the meeting.

Town Attorney Todd Moore assured the board that the legal standard of “adequate public notice” had been met.

The meeting had been scheduled for several weeks to allow the board the three meetings and votes required to approve the 2017-18 budget before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

First reading of a change to zoning regulations that would pave the way for a proposed distillery in town was moved to this meeting as well, after the board chose not to act on the resolution at their regular monthly meeting.

Joyce also questioned the approval of the minutes from the monthly meeting in May, wanting to make sure that details of resolutions she proposed at the meeting were reflected in the minutes.

The board approved motions presented by Joyce at the prior meeting to add time clocks to city hall and the water department and to create a program allowing employees to trade in sick leave annually.

After some discussion clarifying the zoning proposal, the board approved adding distilleries as a special exception as an approved use in certain areas zoned for business or manufacturing.

Any proposals would still have to be approved by the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

First reading of the budget passed as well without discussion, although Joyce abstained from the vote.

Revenue estimates predicted for next year’s budget are conservative, coming in under last year’s estimate by roughly $50,000 at $1,284,900.

Expenditures are estimated at $1,659,528 for next year. The town has a healthy fund balance of just over $1.6 million to handle any shortage if revenues do not grow.

The board will have two more votes before the budget is officially approved to address any further questions

The board appointed Alderman Horace Hill to fill a vacancy on the Board of Zoning Appeals formerly held by Alderman Bucko Bryant.

The board also approved the nomination of John Chunn to a vacant seat on the Chapel Hill Industrial Development Board. The IDB serves as a tool for municipalities to offer tax incentives or other support to business and industry.

Town Administrator Mark Graves guessed that the IDB hadn’t met for Chapel Hill for at least a couple of years but with the proposed distillery project and other potential developments in the part of town zoned for manufacturing, the board would need to be meeting again soon.

Like most meetings held in the county, the issue of water also was raised.

Aldermen questioned why an agreement with the Board of Public Utilities to provide a certified wastewater technician as needed and as required by state law to the Chapel Hill Water Department was not filled by a full-time town employee instead.

“It’s going to depend on what we do with the water system, said Bingham.

“I get the feeling our water situation is pretty urgent,” said Alderman Dottie Morton.

The meeting ended after roughly 30 minutes with the board going into executive session. Under Tennessee law, elected bodies are allowed to exclude the public and press from meetings, if the purpose is to discuss pending litigation with their attorney.