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City Council repeals trash fee, approves plans for brewery

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

Those Lincolnton residents and businesses calling for a repeal of the recently imposed trash tax got their wish in an unexpected move Thursday night.

The City Council voted 3-1, with Councilman Dr. John “Les” Cloninger in opposition, to get rid of the fee.

This latest move comes after a decision in July to cut the garbage-collection charge in half, from $10 to $5 a month, after the council heard from several angry citizens.

Larry Mac Hovis, who was absent for the initial votes on the issue due to illness, made the motion after reading a statement on why he feels the fee is both fair and necessary, citing the various surrounding municipalities that have similar charges in place. Nonetheless, he said, he ultimately decided he couldn’t go against the wishes of his constituents.

Councilman Carroll Heavner said likewise, with Councilman Devin Rhyne having always been against the proposal.

Cloninger, though behind the reduction of the fee during the July meeting, wasn’t convinced it should be done away with entirely. His concern, he said, was with how the city would now make up for the additional loss of revenue, which is roughly a quarter of a million dollars.

In response, Rhyne said there is “plenty of low-hanging fruit in that budget.” He also pushed for the removal of the official ordinance allowing for the fee.

“I want to be sure this is gone,” Rhyne said.

The item was one of four tacked onto the night’s agenda by Hovis for discussion during the meeting. Council members also decided, at the request of Hovis and in their constant effort to find additional water customers, to try to pitch an agreement with Cherryville for the sale of water.

In the past, attempts to do so had fallen through as Cherryville officials determined it was more cost-effective to continue producing their own.

However, Hovis said he believed their plant was close to capacity and proposed that the city try to strike up a new contract. A line is already in place between the two municipalities for emergency purposes, and has been for nearly a decade. It’s ready to go, if needed, Public Works Director Steve Peeler said.

Hovis also presented the previously nixed contracts with Lincoln County regarding the sale of city water and fire, emergency-dispatch and animal-control services, having made, along with Heavner, some changes that they feel will make them more acceptable and fair for city taxpayers while also reminding the county of areas where it should chip in more to the city.

The council voted to send them to the county for consideration, though the Board of Commissioners already approved the original agreements.

Brewery approved

A new brewery will be coming to town following unanimous approval by the City Council.

Lincolnton Business Center plans to convert a portion of property, located on the south side of Motz Avenue, across from Grier Street, to allow for the brewery operation.

Roughly 8,000 square feet at the northwestern portion of the building, formerly a textile mill, will be used for the new business, which will handle only manufacturing. No alcohol sales will be made on the premises.

City water will be used in the operation, with Peeler noting that adequate lines were already hooked up to the site due to its previous manufacturing purposes.

During a public hearing on the conditional-use permit request, mostly positive comments were made, citing other towns’ success with breweries and the jobs they can bring.

While there were some concerns over increased traffic at the site, Planning Director Laura Simmons said there is excess capacity on the roadway.

Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President Ken Kindley spoke in favor of the proposal.

“We need to be diversifying industries, and I think this is a good example,” he said.

In other City Council action:

 

  • City Manager Jeff Emory provided the latest update on the flood damage — primarily to Betty Ross Park and pump stations — from the storms on July 27 and 28, with the overall cost at roughly $700,000, of which $500,000 he hopes to be covered by insurance. He said they had just received word that their claims may not be eligible, but that they are working to get that resolved. In the best-case scenario, the city will still have to shell out $200,000 for repairs.
  • Council members approved an amendment to the city’s Code of Ordinances regarding the “accumulation of refuse and weeds prohibited” and “declaration of nuisance.” The change will lower the previous 24-inch growth limit to 12 inches for grass or weeds, subject to exceptions. Enforcement of the policy remained a concern for some.
  • Council members approved two resolutions of intent to support the Lincolnton Fire Department in seeking grant funding, one through FM Global Fire Prevention for equipment and another through Firehouse Subs for a digital sign.
  • Council members approved 23 Student Advisory Council members for 2013-2014.
  • Council members heard from Robert Tomlinson, who made suggestions regarding the city’s employee benefit package.

 

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