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Backyard critters back on City Council agenda

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

 
The issue of backyard chickens is once again on the agenda for the Lincolnton City Council, which is set to consider proposed draft language for a potential ordinance amendment at Thursday night’s meeting.
Council members will also weigh several budget amendments, one of which is regarding the funding of a school resource officer position for Lincolnton High School. The amendment calls for $50,160 and states that Lincoln County Schools would reimburse the city for 10 months of the total salary.
Another budget amendment allocates roughly $93,000 for “consulting fees” for the Lincolnton Police Department expansion and renovation design, with funds being transferred from “Fund Balance” to “General Fund Consulting Fees.”
Both items elicited heated discussion and debate toward the end of last year. At the Oct. 6 meeting, council members decided to table and withhold taking action on the police department project, which had been a source of much dissension. They later voted in November to delay deliberations on it until their upcoming retreat this year.
Also at October’s meeting, council members decided in a split vote to add a school resource officer to Lincolnton’s list of budgeted positions. Council members Carroll Heavner and Larry Mac Hovis were in opposition, stressing that the issue was a responsibility of the county, not the city.
At last month’s regular meeting, the council heard updates from Planning Director Laura Simmons on research regarding surrounding cities’ enforcement of backyard chickens.
Following a request during the public comment portion of the meeting to also allow goats within city limits, council members are now expected to be presented with a proposed ordinance change permitting both hens and goats, with plans to then move forward with a public hearing.
Prior to the regular meeting at 7 p.m., a swearing-in ceremony will be administered at 6:30 p.m., where the recently re-elected incumbents Mayor John Gilleland, Ward II council member Dr. John “Les” Cloninger and Ward IV council member Larry Mac Hovis will take the oath of office.
Additionally, each will make comments, which will be followed by the mayor’s and city council’s appointments.
This ceremony was originally scheduled to take place before the Dec. 1 meeting, but it was postponed due to the election protest concerning irregularities with absentee-ballot requests from the November city elections. The amended agenda had stated that the “successful candidates’ certificates cannot be validated by the state Board of Elections.” As such, the ceremony had to be delayed until receipt of said certificates.
As the Times-News previously reported, the Lincoln County Board of Elections dismissed the protest at a hearing the next day, Dec. 2, and an appeal with the state elections board has since been temporarily withdrawn.
Also related to the protest is a proposed budget amendment allocating $8,325 for the 2011 municipal election. According to a note in the agenda, $13,000 was budgeted for the election, but the additional cost was due to both the necessity of holding the Republican primary and the general election protest.
Other items on the agenda include:
Cathy Davis, chair of the Downtown Development Association Promotion Work Group, will present a request for the approval of the Loveable Lincolnton Wine Fest Event for Saturday, March 24. She will also request permission to ask the Lincolnton Tourism Development Authority to sponsor a band for the 2012 Hog Happenin’.
Jason Harpe with the Historical Association will present a request for funding in the amount of $2,000 for the 2012 “Battle of Ramseur Mill” re-enactment.
Simmons will present an update on the status of Phase III of the Marcia H. Cloninger Rail-Trail Project and on Ingles. At the December meeting, Simmons said her staff had been notified that Ingles had received approval from CSX for stormwater-related encroachments in the CSX right of way and that construction is due to begin in March or April.
There will be a discussion of fees associated with the city’s utility services.
Council members will consider dates for their 2012 planning retreat.
The meeting is at City Hall and is open to the public.

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