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A crowd was on hand for the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a resolution declaring Lincoln County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” during the first meeting of the new year Monday night. 

Prior to any discussion on the topic, commissioner Rich Permenter moved to table a vote on the resolution until a later date, saying he received the final draft Friday and still needed clarification on certain aspects. Among those was whether the adoption of the resolution would impact any existing county ordinances regarding the possession of firearms in county buildings, which revealed that there is no such ordinance in Lincoln County currently. 

Permenter’s motion to table was voted down by his fellow commissioners, and then commissioner Bud Cesena read the resolution, which can be found at http://www.lincolncounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/14143, before proposing a motion to adopt as presented. 

Prior to opening the floor to discussion amongst the board, chairman Carrol Mitchem clarified to the audience that the commissioners would simply be voting on a resolution, not changing any rules or passing any laws. The public was not given an opportunity to comment on the matter at hand, but a petition with more than 3,000 signatures in support of the resolution was submitted to the board prior to the vote. 

Permenter, who’s the only outgoing commissioner not running for re-election, was the only commissioner to speak against the resolution, despite ultimately voting in favor. 

“I have some real concerns about this resolution, but before I express them I’m going to give those of you (in the audience) who are going to yell at me some of my bonafides,” the U.S. Marine Corps veteran said before noting his status as a member of the National Rifle Association, gun owner and hunter with a concealed carry permit. “I’m a strong defender of Second Amendment rights, but having said that, I generally oppose meaningless resolutions. This, to me, is one of those resolutions because it falls outside the purview of Lincoln County. We’ve already taken, as elected officials, an oath to uphold the Constitution of both the country and the state. There’s no reason for us to have to reaffirm that over one particular issue that happens to be a hot-button issue.”

Permenter went on to describe a local governing body like the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners stepping outside its purview as “something that should worry people.” He also cited the word “sanctuary” in the resolution as a term that he and many others ridiculed when applied to sanctuary cities, which are cities and counties across America that limit their cooperation with the federal government’s effort to enforce immigration law. 

Commissioner Anita McCall responded, saying given today’s times, she doesn’t consider the resolution meaningless, as Permenter called it. Mitchem also spoke in favor of the resolution, citing what he called one of his worst fears.

“It’s not what the Supreme Court is doing now,” Mitchem said. “It’s what they may be doing 10, 20 or 30 years from now when the right people from certain other categories of people, and I could use other names but all of you can probably fill in the blanks there, that will take over this country and destroy it from within.”

Like Mitchem said, the resolution is simply that, a statement on behalf of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners declaring its support for Second Amendment rights in Lincoln County. Monday night’s vote doesn’t change anything in the way the county operates when it comes to firearms.

Lincoln County joins Rutherford County as the only two “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” in North Carolina, although there are more than 100 in Virginia that have adopted similar resolutions. 

The idea gained traction after Democrats won the governor’s seat and a majority in the Virginia legislature and vowed to pass new gun control laws. Virginia Democrats have proposed gun control laws in the past that were shot down by a Republican majority, but their proposals for this go-round have yet to be unveiled so the extent to which they wish to regulate is still unknown. 

In other county business, the board presided over a series of zoning hearings. 

A proposal for a 19-lot residential subdivision on Sifford Road saw some opposition from neighbors, who expressed concern over drainage issues once the lot is developed, as well as a side street in the area which features six homes becoming a shortcut for traffic, presenting a danger for kids playing outside.

Several acres on the east side of N.C. 16 Business, tucked between the Denver Industrial Park and the Balsom Ridge Business Park, may be rezoned to support industrial uses. Damon Lusk, the owner of Race City Steel in Denver, plans to construct a commercial building that will resemble his location near Stacy’s Restaurant on a portion of the property.

It’s unclear what kind of business would occupy the building at this point, but Lusk assured the commissioners that he has no desire to put a car dealership of any kind on the property. The remaining acreage of the property will house a self-storage facility.

The final rezoning request was submitted by Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Denver, which is preparing to construct a new sanctuary, having outgrown the 100-year-old school building the church currently holds its services in.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners will cast the deciding vote on each rezoning request at its regular monthly meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln County Administrative Office at 353 North Generals Blvd. 

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