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Commissioners drop gunfire discussion

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners has opted to cease discussions regarding the recent controversy over gunfire restrictions related to the county’s noise ordinance.
The board approved restricting gunfire noise during the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at a previous meeting. However, residents in the East Lincoln area had urged commissioners to continue exploring restrictions regarding the number of shots fired per minute, citing that a neighbor’s excessive gunfire had become unacceptable.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Denver resident Andrew Ross spoke against a gun ordinance, citing that specific legislation targeting gun owners was unnecessary and could cause significant ramifications to the county residents.
“After talking with several gun clubs, hunting clubs and several grassroots organizations in the area, I’ve been asked to come and allay some of their concerns,” he said. “From what I understand, we’re looking a cap on the possible rounds per minute, or gunfire restrictions as well as caliber level restrictions. My concern here is that we already have a noise ordinance that would cover loud or raucous noise, no matter what time of day it is…it seems to me that making specific legislation or specific rules that target guns or gun owners can have significant ramifications for people in the community, for hunting clubs, for people who rely on guns for sport and for competition.”
Ross said Lincoln County was the home to three nationally accredited competition gun shooters, one of which is a rapid fire champion.
“So you see, placing a cap on their ability to practice on their own private property could have ramifications for them,” he said. “Consider the possible problems we could have by placing legislation on one specific group of people, especially in a county where people tend to have traditional values, conservative values, and might tend to think that that was specifically targeting them.”
Sherriff David Carpenter was the next to speak to the board, offering his advice on how to best approach a change to the ordinance. County Commissioner Carl Robinson, who served as the chair due to chairman Alex Patton’s absence, was the first to respond to Carpenter.
“The last thing we want to do is create a problem for you to enforce something,” Robinson said.
“Sometimes you just have to look at common sense issues; if someone lives on a half-acre piece of property in a close-knit subdivision, should they be outside their home shooting their gun right next to another house?” Carpenter said. “Which is legal, they can do it. But sometimes it makes for hard neighbors or hard feelings towards neighbors, different things like that.”
Carpenter said he, along with County Attorney Wesley Deaton, had researched ordinances in surrounding counties such as Guilford and Gaston Counties.
“We’re Lincoln County, so we need to do our own thing here,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know exactly how enforceable other counties have been to deal with the decibel levels and things like that…it’s a tough situation and a tough decision. We’re still a very rural county, and I’m proud that we’re still rural and can do whatever you want to do on your own property within the law.”
County Commissioners unanimously decided to drop the subject, feeling that there would be no benefit to once again altering the noise ordinance.
“I don’t see any new wording that’s going to help anybody,” County Commissioner James Klein said. “It’s not going to help (Carpenter), it’s not going to help the neighbors. We know a number of things it won’t (help), but that’s all. We’ve spent two months discussing this. I think it’s time to move on. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”
Several fee increases in the county’s solid waste program have also proved to be a sensitive subject for several residents. Changes to fees related to the removal of construction and demolition trash containers at convenience sites were implemented July 1 as part of the Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
During Monday’s meeting, County Manager Tracy Jackson explained that Republic Services was willing to accommodate Lincoln County residents with their construction and demolition waste, for the price of $30 a truckload.
It was clear that County Commissioner Carroll Mitchem required more specific information before agreeing to move forward with Republic Services.
“What about for half a truck load,” he questioned. “Is that going to be $15? If we move forward with this, (the contract) needs to be per pound of waste… but it sure would be nice to have those C&D boxes back.”
According to Jackson, the Crouse landfill charges $30 per ton, $2 of which goes to the state for taxes.
Robinson seemed supportive of the decision to move forward with Republic Services, stating that the contract would serve as a good alternative for those in East Lincoln who would prefer not to have to take their construction and demolition waste to Crouse.
County Commissioner Cecilia Martin also seemed interested in the agreement, requesting Jackson acquire more specifics regarding payment for the disposal for the commissioners’ next meeting.
County Commissioners have approved a $45,425 contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates to conduct an engineering study regarding the possible expansion of the county’s water treatment plant located near Lake Norman. According to Public Works Director Don Chamblee, the study will address the plant’s needs based on expected growth, and make recommendations regarding the county’s priorities for future projects.
Chamblee explained that the consultant would evaluate current technologies and perform capacity analysis and provide scheduling toward the permitting and regulatory costs as well as opinions on foreseeable costs.
Commissioners also voted to approve a design contract for the expansion of the Killian Creek Water Treatment Plant and an upgrade to the Forney Hill Pump Station. The county is expected to spend $244,000 with W.K Dickson engineering firm for the expansion and $106,055 for the upgrade.
The board did not take any action regarding the City of Lincolnton’s proposed contract for the county’s purchase of water from the city. During the meeting, Jackson mentioned that City Council members have put the item on their agenda for special City Council meeting on Aug. 26, and that the commissioners would then discuss the proposed contract at their Sept. 8 meeting.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners will meet next on Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Citizens Center.

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