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Developer accused of plan to cut and run during public hearing

Staff Writer

Crosland Southeast’s request to rezone property in Catawba Springs Township and essentially put it in a holding pattern drew accusations that the company plans to “cut it up and run” during at public hearing at Monday’s Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Austin Williams, a partner with the retail development and investment firm, explained that the company was asking for the “straight rezoning” of the property, located on the east side of the N.C. 16 bypass near the Catawba-Lincoln county line, from transitional-residential to general-business for the sake of investors, specifically for “marketing and investment-protection practices.”
The site is part of the proposed BridgeWater development, most of which is located on adjacent property in Catawba County’s jurisdiction.
Williams said investors would be more comfortable with the property if it was zoned as commercial, even with higher property taxes to pay.
When presenting the case, Zoning Administrator Randy Hawkins said the company had submitted a master plan for the development in 2010 but that it “may not be carried out as set forth.”
The rezoning would help the company better market the property, he added.
During the public hearing, those against the rezoning of the property suggested Crosland may be planning to “cut it up and run.”
Williams admitted that there was no definite plan for the property at this time, adding, however, that it would be “disingenuous and more costly” to go through the process of submitting such a plan when it could ultimately be subject to change.
Sweepstakes zoning
A public hearing was also conducted Monday night on proposed amendments to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance regarding regulations for Internet sweepstakes gaming operations.
As previously reported, the standards would call for separation requirements from residential zoning districts, churches and schools, certain access and visibility requirements, limits on hours of operation and parking specifications.
Caroline Brown, owner of Sugar Daddy’s Internet Sweepstakes in Lincolnton, spoke against the proposed regulations, saying she thought they were “a bit off the cuff.”
Prior to the hearing, Commissioner Carrol Mitchem said he was “tired of regulations.”
In response to a question from Commissioner George Arena, Hawkins noted that there had been no calls to law enforcement regarding any problems with Internet sweepstakes centers locally, but said the concern lies with the centers encouraging a form of gambling.
Hawkins also said an appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court could eventually affect the legality of such centers.
If eventually enacted, the local regulations would not affect those already in business.
Public hearings were additionally conducted for the operation of a campground on Zion Hill Road in North Brook Township and another to construct a warehouse, driveways and parking areas for Denver’s Race City Steel on N.C. 16 Business in Catawba Springs Township.
The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of all zoning cases during its separate meeting. It will bring its recommendations back to commissioners at their next meeting.
Recreation facility
Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners voted to approve the renting of a recreation facility on Startown Road following a closed-session discussion.
As the Times-News previously reported, the Parks and Recreation and Public Works shop on West Church Street in Lincolnton was closed in June due to the possibility of loose lead-based paint and asbestos flooring tiles within the building.
Parks and Recreation Director Erma Deen Hoyle said results from the testing of the potentially hazardous materials were not yet available.
The lease on the new building, which will also serve as a warehouse facility for equipment storage, calls for a monthly rent of $2,800 and allows the option to purchase it after Jan. 1 for $190,000, with 50 percent of the rent applied to the price.
In other board action at Monday’s meeting:
Commissioners unanimously approved awarding $187,850 to Carolina Quality Construction for the replacement of water meters.
Commissioners unanimously approved awarding $256,517 to Dellinger, Inc. for the replacement of aging equipment in the Denver Booster Pump Station.
Commissioners unanimously approved awarding $510,000 to Hickory Construction Company for the closure of the Forney Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that would amend the industrial incentives grant policy for the county, in hopes of improving its ability to recruit larger companies. Commissioners previously tabled this item to allow the LEDA board time to look over the resolution.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to accept the annual tax settlement with the county’s tax administrator.

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