LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council on Monday voted in favor of raising electrical rates by 3 percent and set a public hearing on the issue for March 17, during its next meeting.
The rate hike passed the Council Policy Committee, which includes the City Council, in a 6-1 vote last week. At Monday’s meeting, Councilman John Cantey again voted against the increase. The changewould not be adopted until after the public hearing.
Councilman Erich Hackney, who put forth the motion to approve the hike, sees no other option.
“When ElectriCities came to all these small towns, including Lumberton, and attracted them to come on board to buy their services with the understanding that … we were going to get to the point where our rates were very good, that never materialized,” Hackney said. “So basically we’re going to have to suffer based on what we were told to begin with and what actually came to fruition.” ElectriCities manages the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, of which Lumberton is a member.
During the meeting, the council recognized two retiring employees: Capt. Terrence Shaw, who has served with the Lumberton Police Department for 23 years, and Charles Davis, who worked as a horticulturalist for the city for 20 years.
Mayor Raymond Pennington presented Shaw with a plaque and his service weapon. Shaw oversaw the Police Department’s Administrative Division.
“Thank you for your years of service, godspeed in your retirement and be on call all the time,” Pennington said.
Davis was not present to accept his plaque.
The mayor also presented two local organizations, the Lumberton Volunteer Firemen Association and Lee’s Car Service, with Pride in Lumberton certificates.
The Lumberton Volunteer Firemen Association helps organize the annual Toys for Kids drive, which provided toys to nearly 500 children in December. Lee’s Car Service, located at the intersection of Second and Water streets, was honored for its beautification efforts.
At the recommendation of the Planning Board, the council denied a request from William E. Antone to rezone property located at 4140 Fayetteville Road to allow for retail sales. Rezoning the property from Office-Residential to Business General, as requested, would allow “adult establishments” — like ABC Stores, nightclubs and massage parlors — in the space.
Tony Parrish, who lives two houses away from the site on Dayalpur Avenue, cautioned against the rezoning.
“The driveway for that site comes out onto Dayalpur Avenue,” he said. “There’s a lot of small kids on that road.”
In other business, the council:
— Approved an amendment to the Land Use Ordinance that allows retail sales in buildings zoned for light manufacturing as long as sales don’t take up more than 50 percent of the floor space. The amendment was prompted by requests from manufacturers who want to open outlet stores in their facilities along Interstate 95.
— Voted to appoint the following people to the Comprehensive Transportation Plan Steering Committee: Bruce Mullis, Cindy Kern, Dencie Lambdin, Larry Anderson, Pam Hilbert, Everett Davis, Mickey Gregory and William Tubbs. The mayor also appointed Councilmen Leon Maynor and Burnis Wilkins to serve on the committee. Planning Board members Susan Walker and Alan Britt will also join the committee, which is expected to meet six to eight times over the next two years.
— Voted to appoint the following people to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Steering Committee: Arnold West, Bo Noble, Brad Martin, Danny Cook, Doug Mills, Kenny Biggs, Leroy Rising and Wesley Washington. They will work with Planning Board members Johnny Nobles Jr. and Jan Maynor and Councilmen John Cantey and Don Metzger over the next two years.
— Authorized the Lumberton Police Department to buy $14,480 in surveillance equipment for the Narcotics Division and 15 patrol vehicles at a cost of $425,462.25. The patrol cars were included in this year’s budget and the surveillance equipment would be purchased with money seized in drug arrests.
— Extended a contract between the Electric Utilities Department and Progressive Engineering Consultants Inc. for engineering services.
— Accepted a $503,676 Clean Water State Emergency loan to help repair a deteriorating sewer line for the Britt’s Farm Interceptor Rehabilitation Project.