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Zoning issues attract comment, produce some divided votes

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners heard comments at its meeting Monday evening on several zoning cases that attracted a large crowd and a lot of input, resulting in a split decision from the Planning Board on several issues.
Of the six public hearings conducted, two regarding conditional-use permit requests invited the most discussion.
The first, a request from Rose Gibson for a permit to provide equine-assisted therapy at a proposed 53-acre site located at 3525 Horseshoe Bend Trail in North Brook Township, elicited some concerns from neighbors over the possibility of increased traffic near their property.
Gibson, who plans to provide services to youth three to four days a week, described the work as “very rewarding.”
“God is leading me to start this program back up,” she told commissioners.
At its separate meeting, the Lincoln County Planning Board voted 7-0 to recommend approval of her request, with conditions attached requiring the road to be maintained and the client schedule be staggered to allow for a 30-minute lapse between sessions. Commissioners will make the final decision at their next meeting.
Another conditional-use permit request garnering complaints from neighbors was one from applicant Bobby Smith to operate an Internet sweepstakes center in the Eastern Lincoln Development District.
The property, less than an acre, is located on old N.C. 16 in Catawba Springs Township, about 900 feet south of Unity Church Road.
Nearby business owners and residential neighbors expressed concern over having a “gambling center” in the area, noting that it would be out of place with other businesses and a potential safety problem. They also said there would not be room for the required 33 parking spaces at the site.
The center, which would be open until 2 a.m., could attract crime, they said. Meanwhile, County Manager George Wood questioned why people couldn’t just get on the Internet at home, though property owner David Dupree said the center would provide a “small social scene.”
The Planning Board ultimately voted 6-2 to recommend commissioners deny the request.
Also at Monday’s meeting, a request from QuikTrip Corporation, which is planning to construct a convenience store and gas station adjacent to the Wal-Mart Supercenter on N.C. 73 in Denver, to modify the parking requirements in the county’s Unified Development Ordinance was granted with a 3-2 vote, with commissioners George Arena and Jim Klein in opposition.
As a result, the company will be able to construct an additional 30 regularly-paved spaces, as opposed to the parking requirements’ limit of 39. All 69 spaces in total will also be impervious, as requested by QuikTrip due to the potential for hazardous run-off.
In other board action at Monday’s meeting:
The Lincoln County Board of Education presented its request for the county to fund an additional $158,080 for its fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, which will be looked at in more detail at the county’s upcoming budget work session scheduled for 6 p.m. May 23.
Commissioners unanimously approved awarding a bid of $258,541 for an emergency telephone system, a proposed lease agreement with the Mediation Center of the Southern Piedmont for courthouse space, a three-year contract with Otis Elevator for elevator maintenance at county office buildings for nearly $11,000 annually and a request from the Board of Elections for the release of HAVA Title funds.
The board approved an office-closure notice for the Register of Deeds’ planned transition back to its permanent location on East Court Square in Lincolnton following renovations. The move is scheduled to take place June 22-25.
Commissioners were presented with more information regarding the Ramsour’s Mill battleground, though no action was required regarding the purchase of land at the site as an individual has decided to purchase it for restoration.
Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for CONNECT Consortium Membership for Lincoln County, a resolution designating Airlie Business Park as a certified industrial site, a resolution in support of Cleveland County’s planned reservoir on the First Broad River and a memorandum of agreement between the N.C. Sedimentation Control Commission and Lincoln County.

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