Rebuffed twice, business goes elsewhere

By: By Mike Gellatly - [email protected]
John Cantey

LUMBERTON — A business looking to locate in Lumberton and bring more than a dozen jobs has opted for another site after a city councilman fought the location plan.

The City Council was informed Tuesday that N.C. Power Holdings had dropped Lumberton’s Town Commons Street site and purchased another.

City Attorney Holt Moore told council at its Council Policy Committee meeting that the company, after the request to use the Town Commons Street site was pushed back twice, has bought another site.

N.C. Power Holdings planned to use the Town Commons Street property to store railroad ties and then move them to the bio-fuel plant on Hestertown Road in Lumberton, where they would be used as fuel. However, Councilman John Cantey, who represents the Town Commons Street area, objected first on the grounds that the storage project may be an eyesore and later on the grounds that possibly toxic chemicals from the ties could seep into the ground.

“That’s the best thing they could have done,” Cantey said after the council was informed.

N.C. Power Holdings had said it would employ as many as 15 people. The location of the newly purchased site has not been announced.

In other business, the council moved forward with three contracts related to recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

A $3 million contract to replace aging infrastructure in the Tanglewood community could go to a Raleigh engineering firm if council approves it at Monday’s regular meeting. Using money allotted for Hurricane Matthew recovery by the state Legislature and distributed by the Golden LEAF Foundation, Lumberton looks improve drainage and infrastructure, some of which dates back to the 1960s.

The city awarded the contract to the highest scoring bidder, The Wooten Company of Raleigh.

The money was allocated in the first round of Golden LEAF grants, which were announced in April. On June 1, Lumberton was awarded $754,303 for repairs to its water plant.

K&S Builders of Orrum was selected by council and Lumberton Fire Chief Paul Ivey to repair the Dunn Road Fire Station. The successful bid is for $67,060 to renovate the site and erect a metal building. The station, which serves Southwest Lumberton, suffered significant damage during Matthew.

The generator for the Lumberton water plant was damaged during the flooding and was rebuilt. In order to maintain the warranty of the generator, the Public Works Department is required to have routine service conducted. Gregory Poole Power Systems has prepared annual service agreement to provide the required maintenance for a annual fee of $6,584.50.

In other business, the council:

— Approved with little discussion a five-year master plan for downtown Lumberton created by Charlotte-based planning firm Benchmark.

Richard Monroe, chairman of Rediscover Downtown Lumberton, praised the plan and urged the city not to “put it in a file cabinet or on a book shelf.”

“We want to take this plan, and we want it to become reality. Let’s make this happen,” Monroe said.

— Voted to move forward on an ordinance requiring people who drive golf carts to be insured and get a permit from the city. If the ordinance is approved Monday, a fine of up to $150 could be imposed. A 30- to 60-day period of information and education would take place before enforcement begins.

— Agreed to repeal two ordinances related to restaurants that open late. The planning committee has been tasked with drawing up a new ordinance that will include appropriate restrictions and security for customers.

— Learned the municipal building that previously housed Lumberton City Hall and fire station may have found a buyer. The building, being looked after by the Preservation N.C. group, has been on the market since 2013. It will be sold to Preservation N.C. for $1, as stipulated in a contract between the group and the city, if a viable buyer is found.

The buyer is The Burgess Group Consolidated of Clinton, which plans to develop both floors of the building into a large conference room and a gathering center. With an estimated budget of $600,000, owner Vince Burgess expects refurbishment work to begin in August and be completed in 2019.

John Cantey Cantey
Would have employed up to 15

By Mike Gellatly

[email protected]

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly