Pembroke ponders street vendors ban

By Scott Bigelow - Staff writer
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PEMBROKE Town residents will still be able to buy collards and sweet potatoes for their Thanksgiving tables from street vendors, but all other temporary vendors soon may be banned.

The Town Council has considered banning them before before. On Monday, council members sent the matter to the Planning Board. If the board agrees to eliminate the vendors, a public hearing will be scheduled.

The proposed ordinance would allow street sales during Lumbee Homecoming, when dozens of food, arts and crafts, and other vendors descend on Pembroke around the July Fourth holiday. Vendors also appear on Pembroke streets seasonally to sell balloons, flowers and other holiday-themed items.

“We’re recommending temporary vendors not be allowed in the downtown except during Lumbee Homecoming,” Town Manager Tyler Thomas said. “These vendors are required to purchase permits.”

In other action, the Town Council heard a proposal from three local entrepreneurs who want to open a members-only club on Third Street across from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The club would apply for applicable alcohol permits and feature live music and other popular entertainment, according to Eric Locklear, Aaron Locklear and Charly Lowry.

“We’re looking to create a comfortable environment with a stage for local artists to share their talents,” Eric Locklear said. “We would be open Friday and Saturday nights, and some Thursdays.”

“We envision this as a multi-purpose facility, where we may offer yoga classes during the day,” Lowry said.

“We are concerned about the impact on the town,” Locklear said. “Being members-only gives us control.”

A change in zoning for 703 and 705 W. Third St. and approval of a conditional-use permit are needed before the club can open in the small strip mall.

Council members asked questions about noise, music, alcohol, food and other concerns.

“There will be more questions,” Councilman Larry McNeill said.

A public hearing on the issue was scheduled for the council’s next regular meeting.

The council also voted to spend $78,000 on a radio-monitoring system from Wireless Communications Company for water tanks and other key pieces of the town’s water system. The town currently is communicating via telephone lines at an annual cost of $13,000.

The town will own the digital, wireless system within six years, said Tom Emsweller, a Wireless Communications Company representative.

“This system will have a two-year warranty and a life span of 15 to 20 years,” Emsweller said. “We will provide maintenance.”

Money for the wireless system is available in the sewer budget because of staffing changes, Thomas said.

Palmer Prevention Director Tom Norton requested $5,000 from the town in preparation for applying for grants.

“Raising the age of juvenile offenders in North Carolina to age 18 will result in huge changes — it’s a monster,” Norton said. “We’re the only treatment program for the 16-to-25-year-old age group in Robeson County.”

Palmer Prevention has commitments from the county and all municipalities except St. Pauls, Norton said.

“There is a lot of money coming down, and when we write grants, contributions like this show community support,” he said.

Council members took the request under advisement.

In other action, the town recognized the Pembroke girls under-14 basketball team for recently winning a state tournament.

Council members also recognized Ben Bahr, Alzheimer’s disease researcher at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Bahr recently won two top UNC system awards: the O. Max Gardner Award for contributions to the welfare of mankind and the James E. Holshouser Award for excellence in public service.

“Dr. Bahr has brought recognition to the town of Pembroke and the university for the groundbreaking research he has done to lead us to an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s,” Mayor Greg Cummings said.

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By Scott Bigelow

Staff writer

Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]

Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]