TV crew to take look at city’s cold cases

Johnny Woodard Staff Writer

September 23, 2013

LAURINBURG — Laurinburg’s unsolved mysteries may soon be coming to the small screen.

During Monday’s Laurinburg City Council retreat, Police Chief Darwin Williams announced that he was recently contacted by someone from the TNT cable television network interested in filming and assisting with the investigation of the city’s cold cases.

Williams had announced in August that the department would be focusing on solving cold cases, and that announcement apparently piqued the interest of the entertainment industry.

“I got the call at the police station in reference to our cold case homicides and they said they would add additional support and resources through private investigation,” Williams said. “At first I thought it was a prank call, but I did the research and it’s for real.”

And while the department could be close to reaching millions of households, for now Williams said they are happy to be reaching out to those local households in the greatest need — the families of homicide victims.

The department is lending its support with a new program designed to comfort those who have suffered the loss of a relative at the hands of a criminal.

“We have our detectives on that right now,” Williams said. “Each detective has been assigned to a family to make contact with them and to meet with them once every month.”

Also during the retreat, the Laurinburg City Council upheld an exception to city zoning ordinances extended in May to a property owner.

The decision was made in an effort to resolve a dispute that has spanned seven years with a Laurinburg property owner accused of maintaining several mobile homes in violation of city zoning ordinances on property adjacent to The Countryside Diner on McColl Road.

According to a summary of events provided by City Planner Brandi Deese, Zoning Officer Bill Peele sent Bostic numerous letters since 2006 informing Bostic that she had four mobile homes on her property that are potentially in violation of zoning ordinances.

The mobile homes had been grandfathered in as an exception to city ordinance, but they lost that grandfathered status when they sat without power and proper upkeep for an extended period of time, according to city staff.

Deese said the city received complaints from residents on Turnpike road stating that the Bostic’s mobile homes are a nuisance and that property taken from other areas has been recovered near the mobile homes.

After years of what Deese termed “back-and-forth” between the city and Bostic, Deese reported that “upon Mayor Parker’s request” the city extended an offer to Bostic allowing her to keep one mobile home on the property, while requiring her to remove the other three, an offer which Bostic refused.

Councilman JD Willis spoke against the mayor’s offer on Monday, saying that “as long as that zoning ordinance is in place, we should go by it … and if we want to compromise that zoning ordinance, it should be a decision made by the city council and not by the mayor… .”

Councilman Drew Williamson also advised against “putting ourselves in a situation where (we are) setting a precedent,” also saying “I know our mayor was acting out of the goodness of his heart.”

Willis then proposed a motion that the offer be upheld with the stipulation that no similar offers are made in the future without council approval. The motion was unanimously approved.

“I apologize for putting council and staff in a bad situation,” Parker said. “I didn’t intend to set a bad precedent and I was just trying to solve a problem that has been hanging out there since 2007.”

Bostic may now either accept the offer to keep one mobile home on the property or appeal to the Laurinburg Board of Adjustment, where Deese said that Bostic “would not have a good chance because there is no gray area in the ordinance.”