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County approves plans for new shooting range, Dunkin’ Donuts

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

The Board of Commissioners unanimously signed off on plans for a new Dunkin’ Donuts and indoor shooting range in eastern Lincoln County during its meeting Monday night.
The two zoning cases were recommended for approval by the Planning Board after public hearings at the Aug. 5 meeting.
Before that, both applicants had held community-involvement meetings for their proposals to get input from citizens.
While the new Dunkin’ Donuts, to be located on the west side of N.C. 16 Business, roughly 600 feet north of Townsend Drive in Catawba Springs Township, had caused some to express concerns over potential traffic disruptions created by the store, particularly regarding the deceleration lane, no conditions were attached to the vote.
John Coughlin, who has the development rights for the Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts chain in Lincoln and surrounding counties, expects the proposed site to be similar to the Lincolnton location on East Main Street, which he was also behind.
The plans call for a 2,760-square-foot two-unit commercial development on just under an acre of property. An additional public hearing will be required for the proposal regarding stormwater controls and is scheduled for the Sept. 9 meeting.
Meanwhile, Robert Watson’s request to rezone 4.5 acres on the west side of N.C. 16 Business — roughly 400 feet south of Natalie Commons Drive in Catawba Springs Township — to allow for the shooting range was also approved, with a condition attached that it not open before 12:30 p.m. on Sundays due to its proximity to Lake Norman Lutheran Church.
The question of external sound had come up in previous discussions on the request, with those behind it reiterating that the noise level would be minimal.
The county’s Unified Development Ordinance does not specify decibel levels, but it does require a shooting range to be soundproof and be certified by an engineer. No further stipulations were made in approval of the request.
The range, planned to be “upscale” with a “state-of-the-art” ventilation system, is calling for 20 lanes and will likely employ between 10 and 15 full-time workers. It will also offer membership levels and a variety of classes, with guns and ammo sold at the range.
The board also signed off on requests Monday night regarding additional parking for a car dealership on James Street in Ironton Township and two others to permit the selling of vehicles in Catawba Springs Township.
In other Board of Commission action at Monday’s meeting:
Planning Director Andrew Bryant presented various reports from his department, including an update on the previously discussed issue of real-estate signage, for which commissioners could not come to consensus on how to proceed. They did, however, agree on an annual maintenance-permitting program so that commercial buildings, including schools, don’t have to seek permits for each individual repair needed.
Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln MPO.
A three-year strategic plan for the Lincoln County Public Library was presented, the end result of its participation in a community-needs-assessment pilot project through the State Library. The plan, which focuses on “kids, community and connection” for library patrons, was unanimously approved and stemmed from community forums, as well as 1,300 surveys of local residents.
Commissioners split on revisions to their ordinance regulating “special events and mass gatherings.” Commissioners Jim Klein and Carrol Mitchem opposed changes to address film and TV projects in the area, with Klein noting that they should be dealt with separately. The added regulations, modeled after Mooresville’s system, will require filming projects in the county to obtain permits, provide proof of insurance, have pre-production meetings with county staff, put down a deposit and hire law-enforcement personnel should roadways be blocked off during a shoot.
Commissioners received an update on the county’s Employee Wellness Program, with significant progress made in its first year. They also approved $3,800 annually in incentives for the program, with Chairman Alex Patton noting that the amount was “a worthwhile investment if one person gets healthy.”

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