Pinehurst Council approves changes to fees and charges schedules

Council approves three new appoints to fill vacancies

PINEHURST — The Village of Pinehurst Council met Tuesday, February 14, with multiple appointments and fee schedule changes on the agenda.

The first two appointments that the council approved were to the Pinehurst Historic Preservation Commission. 

“We have three vacancies currently on the Historic Preservation Commission,” said Village Manager Jeff Sanborn. “As is normally the case, we went through an interview process, and we have come up with two very high-quality candidates to fill two of those three positions.”

The voting panel presented two names to the council: Roxanne Vaitkus and Karl Ecker.

“We’ve lost three members, two of whom had legal experience, and so I felt in looking for new members that it would be important to have at least one person with legal experience,” said Historic Preservation Commission Chair John Taylor. “It turns out that of the four people we’ve interviewed so far, two of them had it, and so those are the two candidates that we are moving forward with. We still have two other candidates, plus a third that we have not interviewed yet, and we’d expect to be bringing forth a seventh nominee, hopefully in time for the March meeting. As we sit here tonight, we are down to four, which is the minimum we have to do business.”

The first appointment that the council approved was for Vaitkus.

“Historic preservation and restoration is really, really important,” Vaitkus said. “It’s what attracts tourists to the village, and it’s also what attracts residents to make an investment and become part of the community in Pinehurst. It’s what attracted my husband and I to Pinehurst 30 years ago. We had planned a golf trip from Chicago, and while my husband was on the golf course, I got lost wandering around the village on the curvilinear streets designed by Ulmstead and was smitten with the cottages and the gardens and just the whole historic ambiance and aesthetic of the village. Together both of us said someday we want to live in Pinehurst.”

While Ecker wasn’t present for the meeting, the council approved his appointment anyway in order to help bolster the commission.

“Roxanne’s primary legal experience was not necessarily always in real estate, but Karl’s really was,” Taylor said. “He’s done a number of things, and he’s worked in Washington DC before. I think it was a pretty unanimous feeling between the panel that Roxanne and Karl were the two strongest of the four candidates that we had interviewed at that point. Karl brought significant experience in real estate law and understanding all of the things in the intersection of HPC and COA requirements with zoning and all that. I think he was a very strong candidate.”

The council also formally approved the appointment of Dana Van Nostrand as the Village Finance Officer. 

“My background began as a CPA working with KPMG as an auditor focusing primarily on higher education, state government, and other not-for-profit clients,” Van Nostrand said. “I have then–in the last eight and half years–worked for the College of New Jersey, which is a state-funded, public college in New Jersey. My responsibilities there focused primarily on budget, strategic planning in terms of supporting that through the budgeting process, financial reporting, running the audits, and my experience there will serve me well here.”

The council then approved changes to the Fees and Charges Schedule in order to better cover the Village’s costs associated with them.

For fire department fees, the first, second, third, and subsequent reinspections will be increased by 100%. So it will go from $50 to $100, from $100 to $200, and from $250 to $500. The fees associated with fire sprinklers and detection systems will have a $50 minimum. Re-review fees will have a 50% increase to $150, and for express plan reviews that are needed to be done in less than 48 hours, the new fee will be $250.

“That’s going to cover the costs of us having to go back and reinspect places time and time again because, right now, we aren’t really completely covering those costs,” said Assistant Village Manager Doug Willardson. “In total, these aren’t going to bring in a lot of money for the village, but it would be about $2,000 to $3,000.”

Other fee changes include a $50 fee for the new nonconforming use certificates for short-term rentals, solid waste fees for refuse totes will increase from $48 to $70, and the Fair Barn cost will increase by 20% overall for all fees.

Finally, the council approved two new sponsorship positions to help promote the hiring of police and firefighters.

“We’re having a lot of difficulty in our recruitment of public safety folks, especially new and younger folks,” Sanborn said. “One of the things we’d like to do moving forward to try and bridge that gap is to take on the ability to hire fire and police cadets and then sponsor them through their academy experience. That way, they’re not needing to flip that bill themselves while trying to hold down another job or apply themselves. We think this might give us an edge moving forward.”

“I think it’s a very creative solution,” said Mayor John Strickland. “There’s a growing concern across the state of attracting people at a young age, as early on as possible, into the police and fire departments. So, what we’re doing here is something that hopefully the state will embrace and hopefully find some additional assistance in the future.”

The Village of Pinehurst Council will next meet February 28.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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