County set to correct ACP error

By: T.C. Hunter - Managing editor

LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners will be trying to correct a mistake made almost one year ago that sparked a lawsuit when it meets on Monday.

The board meets at 6 p.m. at the county administrative building at 701 N. Elm St. in Lumberton. One of the agenda items is “Consideration of conclusions and Findings of Fact in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Conditional Use Permit.”

The item relates to a permit approved by the commissioners on Aug. 7, 2017, Gary Locklear, interim county attorney, said Friday. The permit, OK’d at the end of a second public hearing on the request, cleared the way for the construction of a metering station and a 350-foot-tall microwave cell tower on land the pipeline’s builders own near Prospect.

The approval was challenged in court in early October 2017, Locklear said. As a result, the ACP’s builders, subsidiaries of Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company, have not been able to build the monitoring station and tower.

The plaintiffs in the initial lawsuit were Dwayne Goins and Robie Joe Goins, owners of property where the proposed 600-mile natural gas pipeline is to end near Pembroke.

They claimed findings of fact and conclusions from a review of the proposed construction project were not contained in the approved permit, Locklear said. Other property owners and concerned residents have since joined the lawsuit.

“The bottom line is they skipped that step,” Locklear said.

He does not believe the commissioners intentionally left off the conclusions and findings of fact, Locklear said. But, someone should have spoken up before the permit vote and reminded the commissioners that they needed to include the information.

A court hearing on the lawsuit was scheduled for about two months ago, but it was postponed until Aug. 13 because the county government did not have an attorney to represent it, Locklear said.

County Attorney Patrick Pait died June 3 in a traffic accident, and Assistant County Attorney Michael McDonald has an undisclosed health issue.

Monday’s action is an effort to be proactive and get the conclusions and findings of fact read into the record and attached to the approved permit, Locklear said. That way the information will be in place for the Aug. 13 court hearing.

The public will not be allowed to comment on the agenda item, he said. Only he and county Zoning Administrator Dixon Ivey Jr. will speak to the commissioners about the conclusions and findings of fact.

Monday’s agenda does include three public hearings.

One is about a request from Carmichael Locklear, of Pembroke Township, that a 0.61-acre tract of land be rezoned from Residential Agricultural District to Residential District to allow for duplex apartments.

Another is a request from Glenda Halliburton Revels, of Philadelphus Township, for a conditional-use permit to allow for the establishment of a family cemetery on a 4.63-acre tract in a Residential Agricultural District.

The last scheduled public hearing is about a request from Nina Gail Jones Jimenez Hernandez, of Burnt Swamp Township, for a conditional-use permit to allow for the placement of a third dwelling on a 2.54-acre tract of land in a Residential Agricultural District.

Also on Monday’s agenda are two presentations, one about Reading Solutions Inc. and the other about the SNIP Program.

The commissioners are scheduled to hear reports from the board’s Budget & Finance and Personnel committees, and consider appointments to the Robeson County Public Library and the Transportation Advisory Committee.


T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]