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County names new planning chief

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

County Manager George Wood announced his replacement to head up the Planning and Inspections Department Monday evening, with Andrew Bryant selected to take up the post of planning chief.

Bryant, previously a planner within the department, has been serving as the interim planning director since October after the resignation of Kelly Atkins, who decided to enter the private sector.

Wood said the county had almost 40 applicants for the position, with the top-four selections interviewed last week. Nonetheless, Bryant, who Wood said had done an “outstanding job” while filling in, was named to the position, effective Monday.

As he’s already served in the role for the six-month interim, Bryant will not be required to go through the standard probationary period, Wood added.

Also during Monday’s Board of Commission meeting, an update was given regarding state legislation that would establish the Charlotte Regional Airport Authority to oversee the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

A version of the bill recently passed by the N.C. Senate includes language that could be interpreted as stipulating that the proposed authority would have some control over local airports in all neighboring counties, including the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport.

The measure is now in the state House of Representatives. However, Wood said county officials have been assured by N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, that the wording will be changed in the House version of the bill to make it “crystal clear” that the Charlotte authority would have “nothing to do with our airport.”

N.C. Sen. David Curtis was on hand for the meeting to reinforce that notion.

“We will accept the House version,” he told commissioners, while noting that the potentially misleading language in question in the Senate’s measure was not intended to create confusion.

If the authority is created, Lincoln County could get a seat at the table.

Curtis stressed that the 13-member board would be crucial in selecting an eventual replacement for Charlotte Douglas International Airport Aviation Director Jerry Orr. He questioned decisions made by the Charlotte City Council, which currently oversees the airport, and stated that he believes the council could potentially pull money away from the airport for other projects.

The Senate has been receiving a lot of “push-back” from the Charlotte City Council regarding the proposed legislation, he added.

Commissioners wrapped up the meeting with a discussion on the budget-planning process, with Wood noting that he has met with all department heads but would still be in discussion with the various fire departments throughout this month.

Wood also told the board that officials with Lincoln County Schools will soon be presenting their budget requests. The school system is expected to ask for additional funding for this fiscal year.

He said his proposed budget should be ready by the second meeting in May to be presented to the board, with work sessions to follow. Commissioner Carrol Mitchem requested that the board be given a general budget projection earlier than in previous years.

In other Board of Commission action at Monday’s meeting:

Commissioners unanimously approved a ground lease with Delaware-based Borghetti Turbos North America. The company, founded in Brazil, is eyeing a 5.5-acre parcel of land in the Lincoln County Industrial Park. The board previously approved the concept for such a lease, with the details now hammered out by involved parties. Borghetti, for which the state is also considering incentives, is still weighing two other states as potential locations. However, Crystal Gettys, business development manager for the Lincoln Economic Development Association, said she feels confident the company will choose Lincoln County. The ground lease stands in place of a traditional incentive package.

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that would change the board composition for Partners Behavioral Health Management, as required by new state statutes. The new board for the multicounty health-service organization will have fewer members, among other changes.

Commissioners unanimously approved of conveying the historic Robert Mundy house, located on N.C. 16 in Denver, to the Lincoln County Historical Association, which was the recipient of an endowment to fund the restoration and maintenance of the property.

Commissioners unanimously approved a change order for the Forney Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant closure, which will reduce the county’s final payment by more than $24,000.

A resolution to both maintain and support current funding levels for the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), which were reduced in Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget released last month, failed to pass with a vote of 1-3, with Commissioner Jim Klein casting the lone vote in favor. Mitchem said he was opposed due to the fact that PARTF grants, though the county has done well with them, have required matching funds. Meanwhile, Commissioner Carl Robinson said he believes McCrory needs “all the tools in the toolbox” to get the state out of debt.

The board will reconvene 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Citizens Center for a work session with the county’s Planning Board. On the agenda for this meeting are a quasi-judicial update for public-hearing procedures and the setting of a two-year work program for the Planning Board.

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