City to hold hearings on annexation, fee hike
Mary Katherine Murphy Staff Writer
LAURINBURG — During next week’s regular meeting of the Laurinburg City Council, public hearings will be held on proposed changes to the city’s fee schedule for broadband service, as well as the annexation of 20 acres on U.S. 401 into the city.
The council discussed the proposed fee schedule, which replaces one established in 1988, during its agenda workshop on Tuesday. Since that time the city has entered into partnership with Broadplex and the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina in offering broadband and internet service.
“This is just updating, mainly deleting the old fee schedule and replacing it with a new fee schedule for services that are currently offered,” said Bruce Fowler of McGavran Engineering, the city’s electrical engineering contractor. “The old fee schedule … we don’t even offer those services anymore. They’re outdated and obsolete.”
Currently, Fowler said in response to Councilman Drew Williamson’s query about the impact the change will have on revenue, few city residents purchase internet service through the city. The city will serve the broadband demands of the new FCC plant, which had initially anticipated spending $5-10 million constructing its own fiber-optic network.
“Right now, you only have a handful of customers, and as we found out in negotiations with FCC, you can offer better services for half the money,” said Fowler.
The second public hearing will allow community comment on the annexation of 23.19 acres, on which both the Small Business Innovation Center and FCC expansion are located, into the city.
Council also discussed the process of revoking the conditional use permit allowing a salvage yard to operate at 13841 Dixie Guano Road due to the operation’s noncompliance with the terms of the permit.
“We’ve gone above and beyond; we’ve actually had to go out and send the sheriff’s department out because he refuses to accept our letters,” said city planner Brandi Deese. “We’ve tried our best to work with him.”
That salvage yard has been in operation since 2008, since which time some of the natural vegetative barriers shielding the yard from public view have been eliminated. Though some work has begun on a privacy fence, council will continue in the process of revoking the conditional use permit until the permit is revoked or the salvage yard complies with the conditions.
“Some of the things we’re looking at trying to address have gone on for quite some times, which makes it more difficult, but we still want to pursue it,” said Deese.
A public hearing to revoke that permit is scheduled for the council’s Jan. 21 meeting.
In other business, council approved acceptance by the Laurinburg Police Department of a K9 officer, to be selected by the department, from an anonymous private citizen.
“We replaced a dog that died back in August due to heatstroke and the vendor was here with the dog that we’re currently purchasing from him,” said Police Chief Darwin Williams, who added that one of the department’s three current canines is scheduled for retirement. “The citizen saw us training with this dog and he voluntarily stated that he would buy us a dog.”
The council also amended its agenda meeting schedule for 2014, changing the location from the W. Charles Barrett Administrative Building to the council’s chambers above the police department effective in January. The change in location will make those meetings, held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, more accessible to the public and enable the council to vote on agenda items.
“If we’re going to have two meetings, then we ought to advertise it so we can wind up offering motions and approving stuff at the meeting because if you’re not going to do that, then in my opinion it’s a waste of time just to come in here and go through this stuff,” Councilman J.D. Willis said.
The Laurinburg City Council’s regular meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.
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