RED SPRINGS — Town officials on Tuesday solved a longtime zoning issue, but failed to resolve a major drainage problem that led to the displacement of several families following Hurricane Matthew.
Town commissioners accepted the Planning Board’s recommendation to rezone a large section of Third Avenue from Industrial to General Business and Residential.
Planning Board Chairman Wilson Ray said no one knows why or when the area was zoned Industrial.
“The track is currently zoned Industrial, but there is no industry there,” Ray said. “It’s not getting the job done. It’s not attracting industry.”
Changing the zone to General Business and Residential would open the door businesses and residences, Ray said.
The commissioners voted unanimously for the rezoning.
However, what to do about flooding and drainage in the Thurlow Street area left commissioners shaking their heads.
“We are frustrated and the residents who are not back in their homes following Hurricane Matthew are 100 times more frustrated,” Mayor John McNeill said. “We need to help these folks get back in their homes and we need to find a solution to the drainage problems.”
Eight to 10 families remain displaced by flooding from Hurricane Matthew.
The commissioners asked McGill Associates to help the town apply for some of the $30 million in state funds available through the Golden LEAF Foundation earmarked for post-Matthew infrastructure repairs and new construction needs. They also asked the engineering firm to help the town apply for some of the $79 million in new money being made available by the state Division of Emergency Management to help recovery efforts in Robeson and three other counties hit hardest by the hurricane.
Commissioner Ed Henderson, who recently has filed as candidate for Red Springs mayor, said it’s time for the town to do whatever is necessary, even if it means raising taxes, to resolve the Thurlow Street area drainage problems. Similar problems occur in other areas of the town, he said.
“We know the problems. This affects all of Red Springs,” Henderson said. “We need to quit dragging our feet and get this done.”
In other business, the commissioner heard a presentation from a town resident interested in setting up and overseeing a community garden on property located near the new farmers market.
According to the proposal, any resident who wanted to participate in the venture could have their own plot to manage and maintain. The project might increase participation at the farmers market and could be used to teach children about how produce is grown and processed.
The commissioners recessed Tuesday’s meeting until 6 p.m. on July 31. At that time they will meet to discuss electrical rates for small businesses.
“This will absolutely have no effect on our residential electric rates,” McNeill said. “This is just about our small-business rates.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.