At their regular meeting held Monday night, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved the Lease Agreement with Duke Energy for the Beatty’s Ford Access Area. This agreement with Duke has been a topic of discussion for the county commissioners for well over a year. The project is required of Duke to maintain its hydroelectric operating license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The plan includes 89 total recreation commitments around the lake to be completed over a 20-year period from 2018-2037, with most scheduled within the first 10 years. The Beatty’s Ford Park project is one of 31 scheduled to be completed within the first five years of the plan.

In terms of the scope of the Beatty’s Ford Park project, Duke Energy plans to put in a swim beach made up of roughly a quarter-acre of sand, a fishing pier and additional parking spots to accommodate the new amenities.

The park will stay open through construction, but the swim beach facility likely won’t open until the recreation season of 2023.

Four of the five commissioners voted to approve the lease, with Commissioner Carrol Mitchem voting against it. Throughout discussions on this beach, the commissioners as a whole have been reluctant to do this, not so much because they didn’t want to offer this facility to the citizens, but they’ve been concerned about safety.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the request of BLBJC Properties, LLC to rezone a 6.1- acre tract from Neighborhood Business to Conditional Zoning Light Industrial to permit a contractor’s office and contractor’s yard. The 6.1-acre parcel is located at 3089 W. Old N.C. 150 Hwy., at the southeast corner of the intersection of W. N.C. 150 Hwy, Crouse Rd, and W. Old N.C. 150 Hwy., in Howards Creek Township.

The commissioners also approved unanimously the application of BLBJC Properties, LLC for a special use permit to exceed 36% impervious surface are in the South Fork/Catawba River WS-IV Protected Area as a special nonresidential intensity allocation under the 10/70 option. 

In other business, the request of Tommy Smith to place a Lincoln Lodge 137 (Masonic Lodge) plaque at the new Lincoln County Courthouse was approved, four to one, Commissioner Milton Sigmon voting against it.

“I support the Masonic Lodge, but I have concerns about potential future organizations desiring to have a placement on county property,” Sigmon said in a telephone call with Times-News after the meeting.

Commissioners heard from Ron Lewis on a request to place a Charters of Freedom monument on county property. This is a grassroots movement that installs pillars with copies of original founding documents in locations throughout the country. There’s one installed outside the Old Burke County Courthouse in downtown Morganton. The commissioners will further discuss this project at the next regular meeting which will be held on Nov. 18.

County Attorney Megan Gilbert presented a Memorandum of Agreement between the State of North Carolina and Local Governments on proceeds related to the settlement of opioid litigation. According to Gilbert, Lincoln County could receive $5.9 million between the years of 2022 and 2038. This money has to be spent as detailed in the agreement. The commissioners approved entering into this agreement.

One community member from Crouse spoke during public comment regarding putting commissioner elections in districts like the school board elections are. Two other individuals from Denver spoke in favor of the Charters of Freedom.

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