LUMBERTON — After a lengthy public hearing Wednesday, the Lumberton City Council rejected a Planning Board recommendation to deny the rezoning of an office/retail property at 1502 Godwin Ave.
Instead, the council unanimously agreed to send the matter back to the Planning Board to amend the land-use ordinance to allow a mobile home real estate sales office that would not display mobile homes on site. The amended ordinance is expected to be finalized in January.
The request for rezoning came from Renee Perry, who owns the property and would rent it to a real estate company that buys and rents mobile homes. Perry agreed to withdraw her rezoning request and wait on the land-use change.
“I believe in this case the Planning Board got it wrong,” Councilman John Cantey said.
Cantey asked for a one-time “parallel conditional-use” exemption for the property instead of changing the ordinance.
Mayor Bruce Davis said it would be better for the city, “long term,” to change the ordinance, and he won the day. City Attorney Holt Moore and City Planning Director Brandon Love agreed, and the question will be taken up by the Planning Board in December and return to the City Council in January for a public hearing.
“There was no intent to stifle business,” Love said. “It was a unique request.”
City Councilman Burnis Wilkins, who represents the Godwin Avenue area, also agreed with the plan to amend Lumberton’s land-use ordinance.
“I’m in favor of what Renee is trying to do,” Wilkins said. “Let’s make sure the Planning Board knows what we are trying to do.”
In a second public hearing, the City Council approved the zoning and annexation of the new Sanderson Farms chicken hatchery on Elizabethtown Road. Sanderson Farms, which also built a large chicken processing plant in St. Pauls, requested the annexation in return for water and sewer services.
The annexation means the company will pay property taxes on the facility, which was projected to cost about $18 million. It employs about 50 people.
In a third public hearing, the City Council paved the way for Robeson County to renovate the former Southern National/BB&T building on the 500 block of Chestnut Street. The request was made by Metcon Construction Company, and the county plans to use the office building to satisfy its growing demand for office space.
The large downtown building, which has been empty for several years, was rezoned to central office. Anderson Engineering represented Metcon.
The City Council sent two rezoning requests to the Planning Board. The first is a rezoning request for three lots on Carolina Avenue for the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church. The second is a second application for Snake Solar for an office at 2399 Snake Road. A conditional-use permit was approved in 2016 but expired after a year.
In other business, a four-way stop was approved for the intersection of High and Glisson streets.
Due to congestion, parking will be restricted to one side of Eighth Street between Cedar and Willow streets. Lumberton Police Chief Mike McNeill agreed with both changes.
Finally, the City Council played Santa Claus with its employees, allowing them to take off the entire week of Christmas by using vacation days for Thursday and Friday, Dec. 28 and Dec. 29, to go with three paid holidays.
Essential services, such as police, fire and emergency public works and electrical services, will continue through the holidays.
The meeting was the last for Erich Hackney, who has served four terms as the representative of Precinct 8. He lost re-election in November to Owen Thomas.
Davis presented Hackney with a plaque in honor of his service.
The council on Monday will hold a swear-in ceremony for Thomas and three incumbents who won re-election, Wilkins, who represents Precinct 3, John Robinson, Precinct 2, and Cantey, Precinct 5.
Scott Bigelow may be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 910-644-4497.