City Council to take up Hargrave rezoning

By: Staff report

LUMBERTON — A public hearing regarding the rezoning of Janie C. Hargrave Elementary School tops the agenda for Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The regular meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. in council’s chamber on the third floor of City Hall, located at 500 N. Cedar St. The Council Police Committee was to meet Wednesday, but that meeting was cancelled and the City Council meeting that was scheduled for Monday was rescheduled for Wednesday to accommodate Veterans Day, which is Monday.

The Public Schools of Robeson County is requesting that Hargrave Elementary, located at 100 Hargrave St., be rezoned from Residential Single Family/Duplex to Office/Residential, with an eye toward making the school that was closed as part of the district’s schools closure and consolidation plan the new central office location. The rezoning was approved on Oct. 22 by the city’s Planning Board.

School district leaders see converting the school to a central office building as a money-saving move. They also believe renovating the school for use as office space can be done at minimal expense and district maintenance personnel can perform most of the work.

“We just see this as a permanent site, so we can stop renting,” Superintendent Shanita Wooten said recently.

The district office staff currently is housed in the old BB&T call center building on Kahn Drive in Lumberton. The district is paying $11,700 per month for the 20,000-square-foot building it moved to in July 2018. The lease on the building expires in June.

The move to Kahn Drive was necessitated by the flooding of the central office building on Caton Road by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The floodwaters left the building unusable and in a federally designated flood zone, which meant the building could not be renovated and used again.

Which highlights another advantage district leaders see for using Hargrave Elementary. The school did not flood during Matthew or Hurricane Florence.

There are 13 other action items on Wednesday’s council agenda.

Among them is directing city staff members to draft an ordinance prohibiting food vendors from parking in the spots adjacent to Elm and Chestnut streets and facing Second Street by the downtown plaza and reserving the two spots by the bricked median facing Second Street for food vendors only, but on a first-come, first-served basis.

Council members also are to take up the approval of a project architect for the Carolina Civic Center and Historic Theater annex project. On Oct. 14, the City Council approved a $1.5 million expansion of the civic center and theatre. The lobby will be expanded, and the annex will be able to accommodate receptions, events, conferences and other events.

Staff report