Rowland wants more info on nonproft’s plan

First Posted: 8/13/2014

ROWLAND — The Rowland Board of Commissioners on Tuesday decided not to endorse a proposal by a nonprofit that wants to use the abandoned Family Inn motel property off Interstate 95 as the site of an inpatient mental health treatment facility.

But the commissioners left the door ajar to consider it later.

Oryan Lowry, the town’s administrator, said that he recommended that the commissioners wait to formally endorse the project until some information he received about the proposal from the nonprofit is clarified.

“I want everyone on the same page before the town throws its support behind the project,” he said.

Barsheem Chapman, chairman of the board for B.C. Development Corporation, a multi-disciplinary health organization, asked the commissioners to support his organization’s plans to purchase the property and establish a mental health treatment facility to serve 30 patients. He said the town’s support is necessary for B.C. Development to receive a state grant for rehabilitation purposes.

Chapman said that he is currently negotiating with the property’s owner, Subodh Thakur of Fayetteville, to purchase the property that is the site of four hotel buildings, a restaurant and a gas station, all of which are in a dilapidated condition. The treatment center, he said, would provide about 40 jobs.

The town and Thakur have been sparring over the dilapidated condition of the property, which town officials and nearby business owners have complained is an eyesore that hurts other businesses. Thakur, according to the commissioners, has repeatedly promised that he would handle the demolition of the structure, but has not followed through.

Thakur was at Tuesday’s meeting. He told town officials that if an agreement could not be worked out within the next month he will present a plan for demolishing the dilapidated structures.

“I don’t have the money to do the repairs,” he said. “I need time to put a plan together.”

Lowry said that the property was condemned by Robeson County in January 2012.

Chapman said that the state grant he is seeking is only part of his budget for the project. He said he has other means of financial support to move forward with the project if he can purchase the property.

According to Chapman, the only thing that stands in his way of developing the center on the old hotel property is coming to an agreement of sale with Thakur and having the property rezoned “institutional.” The formal support from the town, he said, is only necessary to obtain the state grant that would help support rehabilitation of the property.

“I’m going to continue (without town endorsement) God willing,” Chapman told The Robesonian after the meeting.

In other business:

— Lowry presented the commissioners with a proposal that china plates with the town’s seal be sold as part of the town’s 125th anniversary celebration, which is now under way. The plates, to be introduced for sale at a dinner scheduled by the town and Chamber of Commerce for December, would cost about $40, Lowry said. Proceeds from the sale would be split between the town and local chamber.

— Tabled a proposal to hire four prison inmates housed in Scotland County to work for the town. The total cost for the four inmates would be $1,000 for one year. Currently, Rowland employs two workers provided by the Lumber River Council of Government for a total of $2,000 for one year.