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County OKs restored mill for events

Years of effort in the Laboratory Mill restoration project can be seen throughout the historic structure.

Historic site was home to Confederate laboratory

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

The Laboratory Mill on Southfork Road in Lincolnton could soon be host to weddings, reunions and other social events, in addition to film crews.
During Monday night’s meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, a public hearing was conducted on a request for a conditional-use permit from owner John Dellinger to operate an events venue at the former Confederate laboratory.
He has been in the process of renovating the site for five years, with backing from Preservation North Carolina.
Dellinger estimates the project will see a completion date within a year, telling commissioners it has been one of the largest private restoration projects in county history.
In addition to potentially operating as an events venue, the Laboratory Mill is also the site of historical artifacts, including a 375-pound Civil War-era “syrup pot” that was transferred from a private residence back to its former home at the end of April.
Dellinger additionally has plans to have a gift shop on the site, which would feature the work of local artisans.
Neighbor Scott Carpenter spoke in favor of the site’s renovation, saying he was “thrilled about the project.”
The site has also attracted the attention of film crews for Banshee, an television show that will air on Cinemax. As the Times-News previously reported, representatives of the TV project announced in April that some scenes for the Pennsylvania-set show would be shot on location in parts of rural Lincoln County.
Dellinger told the board Monday night that he has been in contact with the production crew, with filming expected to take place at the mill next week.
Another zoning case heard by commissioners Monday night was on a conditional-use permit request from Strata Solar to establish a solar power generation facility at 5531 W. N.C. 27 in North Brook Township.
The proposed 48-acre site would generate power from sunshine to sell to Duke Energy.
Representatives of Strata Solar, the largest solar-farm developer in the state, told commissioners that the proposed farm would generate tax income while asking for little in return from the county, stressing that the quiet, rural nature of the farm would have minimal impact on adjoining properties.
They also pointed to a similar energy farm in Kings Mountain as an example of what the site would ultimately look like.
The Planning Board voted unanimously during its separate meeting Monday night to recommend approval of both zoning requests. Commissioners will take a final vote on each at their next meeting.
In other board action at Monday’s meeting:
Commissioners voted 4-1, with commissioner Jim Klein in opposition, to approve an ordinance on special events and mass gatherings in Lincoln County, removing from the presented language a list of exempted events after some discussion. The board wrestled with whether the application and fees stipulated by the new ordinance should apply to already established mass events. The majority felt that there should be no exemptions listed in the ordinance, though Klein disagreed.
Commissioners unanimously passed the Rural Operating Assistance Program.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution accepting and endorsing the 2012 Solid Waste Management Plan for Lincoln County.
Assistant County Manager Martha Lide presented an update on changes to the way Lincoln County buys fuel that would allow the county to claim tax on purchases.
Commissioners unanimously approved a $10,000 allocation of ABC funds to Phoenix Counseling Services to go toward the operation of a Halfway House for Women.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution requesting the closing of a portion of Reep Brothers Road.
Commissioners voted unanimously to execute a grant agreement for $15,000 from NCDENR for a landfill recycling building.
Commissioners conducted a public hearing on the proposed 2012-2013 budget, with an additional work session to discuss it further scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. They additionally scheduled a special meeting for June 28 to take a final vote on the budget.

Reclaimed slate roofing tiles now adorn the entrance.

Images courtesy of Ray Gora / LTN

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