LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council on Wednesday denied a request from a county commissioner who wanted to remove property he owns from the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in order to put mobile homes on the site.
In a letter, Commissioner David Edge asked that his land on Meadow Road be placed in county jurisdiction. Edge says his intent was to place three mobile homes on the front of the property to rent, with woods at the back of the property.
“In applying for a septic tank permit I was informed that this property was in the city of Lumberton’s ETJ and would not allow me to place a mobile home on the property,” he wrote.
The ETJ surrounds city limits and was created to provide for “uniform growth” of the city, said City Manager Wayne Horne. City taxes are not imposed in the ETJ, but city zoning and some planning ordinances are enforced.
City Attorney Holt Moore said that mobile homes and mobile home parks are allowed in the ETJ, but must comply with city standards.
The council voted unanimously against the request.
“I think it would cause some problems for this board if you allowed one constituent … and did not allow somebody else to do it. The second issue is when you take it out of ETJ you remove the very barriers that we put in place to protect the city’s growth, not withstanding the fact that this property backs up to a very dense Forest Acres subdivision,” Mayor Bruce Davis said.
Horne said he cannot remember another instance in which a property owner has asked that their property be removed from the ETJ.
Council members seemed wary of how many mobile homes would be placed on the 17-acre site. Councilwoman Karen Higley, who represents the area, said neighbors were not happy about the request.
Edge said he felt the proposed use fit with the surrounding area; there are mobile homes across the street. He said he is considering whether to sell the land, apply for a variance from the city or find another use for it.
“If I had kept it myself as rental property I could be sure it was maintained,” he said.
When reached by phone Wednesday, Edge said he was under the impression the request wouldn’t “be an issue” and he could attend the council’s regular meeting on Monday.
Also Wednesday, a routine vacancy to the Robeson County Public Library Board prompted a discussion on protocol for such appointments. The council recently decided to bring all appointments to city boards and commissions to Council Policy Committee for discussion, rather than having members take turns making appointments.
Several council members were unaware of a vacancy on the library board until a candidate was recommended to the City Council last month. Ultimately, the council approved Chairwoman Gail McLean’s recommendation, Nancy Martin, without any opposing votes voiced.
Before the vote, Councilman John Cantey expressed concern that minority members of city boards, including the library board, are being replaced by non-minorities. Cantey said that hiring of city personnel should be selected based on qualifications, rather than race. City boards should represent the “totality” of the city, not just one part of town, he said.
“It’s a trend that all the replacements are coming form the north side of town,” he said
At Davis’ recommendation, the council has recently revisited some provisions for boards and commissions, including how many people serve on what boards. Davis said city boards were previously unbalanced when it came to race, particularly the library board.
“I have racially balanced it,” Davis said.
In other business, the council:
— Tabled discussion until January about allowing cell phone towers in the B-5 Highway Service zoning district. U.S. Cellular has asked to place a tower beside Lackey Street. The council agreed more research was needed to see if towers could be placed near B-5 in order to provide sufficient cell phone coverage without taking up valuable land or creating an eyesore.
— Accepted a 2016 Edward Byrne JAG grant awarded to the Lumberton Police Department. The $38,262 grant will be used for equipment, software licensing and overtime.
— Approved the following designations of Community Revitalization Funds: $200 for community programs in Precinct 2; $200 for community programs in Precinct 5; $200 for community programs in Precinct 6; and $2,425 to Communities in Schools of Robeson County for its BakPak Pals program.
— Approved the purchase of a service truck for Public Works meter technicians at a cost of $31,832.
— Awarded financing of 15 police cars for five years to Lumbee Guaranty Bank.
— Authorized demolition of unsafe structures at 707 E. Elizabethtown Road, 208 Kinlaw St., 113 Spearman St., 105 Church St., 811 E. Sixth St., 1005 E. Sixth St., 14 Marion Road and 617 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
— Set a public hearing for Nov. 14 on whether to annex a parcel of land at 465 Kenric Road, which is a KOA campground. Two parcels at the site have already been annexed.
— Referred to the Planning Board a request to rezone property at Old Whiteville Road and Roberts Avenue for use as a car lot.