PEMRBOKE — Mayor Greg Cummings cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday that cleared the way for a private club to operate under a conditional-use permit.
During their regular meeting, the Pembroke council members deadlocked 2-2, with Teresa Locklear and Larry McNeill against and Channing Jones and Ryan Sampson in favor. McNeill gave a final warning to the applicants before the vote in which the mayor broke the tie.
“It’s not easy to follow these conditions,” McNeill said. “You’ve got to be on your pins and toes.”
It came down to trust for the mayor.
“I’ve known you people for a long time and you’re business-minded,” Cummings said. “I feel like you would do a good job, and I’m for it.”
During the past few months, McNeill has expressed his disapproval of the business that will be run as a member-only social club at 705 W. Third St., directly across from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The permit applicant, Eric Locklear, first brought the plan to the council in April.
“We have been discussing this for months and months,” Sampson said.
Locklear expressed his appeciation to Cummings .
“We strive to help the community,” he said. “Thank you, mayor, for your support.”
Also on Tuesday, the board approved a request to rezone an area on Harvard Road from a Residential District to a Multi-Family Dwelling District to allow for the construction of student housing. The project would have an estimated 150 units.
The vote was 3-0. Jones recused himself because of a possible conflict of interest.
Local business owner Brian Brewington spoke in favor of the project. Joshua Malcolm, a UNCP attorney, spoke against it.
“I want to make it crystal clear that the university is not in active negotiations and is not interested in active negotiations (with developers),” Malcolm said.
The state requires developers to provide a commercial borderline, sewer line and a road, Malcolm said.
Town council members expressed concern about approving the property without information on the property easements. The land is adjacent to various university owned properties.
“We don’t want the cart to get before the horse,” said Tyler Watts, of Student Residential Investments.
Watts said that before spending time and energy on providing all the easement information and publicizing decisions, the developers would prefer the rezoning.
Brewington spoke on behalf of property owners, who agreed to sell their land to Student Residential Investments.
“The university doesn’t want to pay the owners what the property is worth, developers do,” Brewington said.
The property can either be used for multi-family purposes or for classrooms for the university, he said.
“The citizens will benefit more with the multi-family,” Brewington said.
In other business, council members:
— Amended standards in the Unified Development Ordinance for smoke shops and tobacco stores. Going forward, new businesses will be required to obtain a conditional-use permit in order to operate. Town Manager Tyler Thomas said the ordinance will not affect existing businesse.
— Were notified that the 29th annual Pembroke Day will take place Sept. 27 from 3 to 7 p.m in the quad by the bell tower at UNCP.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865