Rezoning sought for park

Sarah Willets | The Robesonian The Lumberton City Council plans to initiate a request to rezone Lumberton Mobile Home Park for commercial use. The request does not bind council members to approve the rezoning.

LUMBERTON — Now that all but one tenant has left a condemned mobile home park on Roberts Avenue, a first step was taken Wednesday to allow for commercial development on the 6.5-acre lot.

City officials, citing health and safety concerns, condemned every home in Lumberton Mobile Home Park following a December hearing, and in March gave residents until the end of May to relocate.

The City Council, meeting as the Council Policy Committee on Wednesday, authorized the Inspections Department to demolish the remaining structures in the park, and agreed to move forward with a council-initiated application to rezone the property for Business General Commercial use.

According to City Attorney Holt Moore, it’s the second time the City Council has put forth a rezoning request, and doing so does not bind council members to approve the rezoning when the application comes back to them after being reviewed by the Planning Board. An applicant requesting rezoning does not have to have a tie to the property in question, he said.

“You’re not endorsing the rezoning,” Moore told the council. “What you’d be doing at this point is just saying ‘we as a group are OK with this moving forward for our consideration.’”

The completed application is expected to be reviewed at the next Council Policy meeting in July.

Councilman Burnis Wilkins, who represents the precinct where the lot is located, asked that the council initiate the rezoning process. The property is currently split-zoned among three uses.

“… In light of what we know the history of that place to be over the years — decades actually — and seeing that the majority of it was already zoned as B-4, I personally felt, and having talked with some folks that live way off of this location, that it being really the only residential area right there on Roberts Avenue, it would just be better for Lumberton as a whole for it to be rezoned to B-4,” Wilkins said.

According to the city’s director of Inspections, Ben Andrews, one home in the park remains occupied, but utilities to the home were disconnected Tuesday and the residents are in the process of relocating. Ten structures remain at the 52-lot park.

Most residents had left the mobile home park by the end of March. City officials held an information session to help residents sign up for housing with the Lumberton Housing Authority. The park has been an issue for city staff for about 15 years because of the condition of the homes and contaminated groundwater.

In other business, the council:

— Agreed to have three additional police officers patrol Lumberton Housing Authority properties, bringing the total number of officers on the beat to four. The city is seeking a grant to cover the expense.

— Authorized the Lumberton Police Department to apply for a $35,345 Edward Byrne JAG Grant to be used for training, equipment and overtime.

— Accepted two grants in the amounts of $123,076 and $2,263,061 for taxiway and apron rehabilitation at the Lumberton Regional Airport.

— Approved a request by Councilman Robert Jones to de-obligate $4,110 in Community Revitalization Funds that had been designated for several purposes but was not used by the recipients.

— Designated the following Community Revitalization Funds: $500 to Communities in Schools for its annual banquet; $250 the the Knights Boys Basketball Camp; $500 to the Oakridge Association; $500 to the Wycliffe Association; and $500 to the Wycliffe East Association.

— Referred to the Planning Board a conditional-use permit request from Adelio Cruz for a restaurant that serves alcohol at 3551 Lackey St.

— Tabled a conditional-use permit request from Edgar Flores that he needs for a restaurant/bar at 3025 N. Roberts Ave. until building code issues are addressed.

— Referred to the Planning Board a request from Amar Mustafa to rezone property at 2302 Elizabethtown Road for use as a car dealership.

— Approved a $295,600 bid from Trogon of Whiteville to build an addition at the Lumberton Public Works building and renovate the locker room, contingent on the city receiving a loan.

— Approved the final plat for Phase 3 of the Wyndam Estates Townhomes subdivision and set a $23,000 bond for the completion of paving, concrete work and landscaping.

— Approved the final plat for Section 2, Part 3 of the Amberdale Village subdivision and set a $15,000 bond for the completion of grading and sidewalks.

— Heard a request by Samantha Bennett to amend city code to allow residents to have chicken coops on their properties.

— Approved a $24,935 bid for Stone’s Painting Corporation to repaint Electric Utilities Department buildings.

— Approved a $1,327,000 bid, , contingent on the city receiving a loan, for Utility Services Co. Inc. to rehabilitate two water tanks.

— Amended a contract with the Wooten Company for $13,800 in additional work on the Britt’s Farm Sewer Replacement Project.

— Designated as surplus two refuel trucks used by the Lumberton Regional Airport.

— Authorized airport staff to purchase an aviation gasoline truck from Lumberton Ford for $31,390.

— Authorized May 2015 property tax releases.