ST. PAULS — The Board of Commissioners decided on Thursday that it will not allow restaurants to operate in neighborhoods.
The action followed a request by Jimmy Robinson, a businessman who wanted to convert Sandhill Variety Store at 545 E. Chapel St. into a restaurant.
With Mayor Gordon Westbrook breaking the tie, the board voted 4-3 vote to reject a proposed amendment that would have allowed restaurants to operate in neighborhoods as a conditional use. Commissioners Ghee Johnson, Samuel McAllister and David Ayers voted for the amendment, and Commissioners McClure Terry, Gerard Weindel, and Sandra Cain joined Westbrook in voting against it.
Those opposed were concerned about a business serving alcohol in a residential area near schools and churches.
“I’d love to see you have a nice restaurant down there, but the problem is people won’t just sit down and drink a beer with their meal,” said Westbrook. “They’ll sit there and drink two or three and then they’ll go out and get in their car and you’ve got a schoolhouse just down the road.”
Robinson said that his store is struggling, but food sales are thriving.
“We need to be able to survive,” Robinson said. “We have done a lot through the town to get some good things done on that side of town and this is just another step in getting something good for that side of town.
“I can assure you that that is all we sell there is beer. The only thing that would change there is they would be able to drink it inside.”
The town would not be able to restrict the sale of alcohol as one of the conditions of allowing the restaurant to operate, according to Town Administrator Stuart Turille. Currently restaurants can only operate in the town’s business districts, but some municipalities in the state do allow restaurants in neighborhood districts.
In other business, the board approved an agreement with the county to allow Robeson County landfill’s sewage to be processed by the town’s water treatment system. The permit allows for the town to accept as many as 24,000 gallons of sewage a day at a rate of $45 per 1,000 gallons. The money is needed to make improvements to the town’s water plant.
Turille said that Porter Scientific had tested the landfill’s sewage and it did not pose a safety threat. The sewage will be pretreated before reaching the town’s treatment facility.
The town also provided $1,500 to the Police Department so it could exhume a woman’s body as part of a criminal investigation. St. Pauls Police Chief Tommy Hagens said new evidence suggests that the woman may have been murdered.
He did not want to release additional details, including the woman’s identity.
In other action on Thursday, the board:
— Approved creating two parking spaces for the library.
— Appointed Ernest Maynor to the Planning Board.
— Designated Saturday Oct. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. as the official time for children 12 and under to trick-or-treat in the downtown area.
— Approved an increase of $25 for cemetery plot fees to cover the cost of corner markers.
— Approved the demolition of a dilapidated home that has been abandoned at 641 E. Armfield St. if the owner does not make necessary repairs within 30 days.