There will be no billboard promoting Scotland Motors on McColl Road — at least for the time being.
The Laurinburg City Council on Tuesday voted 4 to 1 to deny the automobile dealership’s request to rezone the property to erect the signage. The billboard was proposed for the intersection of McColl and Barnes Bridges roads, about a mile outside the city limits.
Lee Howell, who owns Scotland Motors, had requested that the 3.4-acre tract be rezoned from general business to industrial to allow the billboard to go up. Billboards are typically allowed in industrial zones by conditional use permits.
A number of people who own homes or property near the site had complained about the request. Two spoke at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Bill Bethea told the council that he was opposed to the property being rezoned as industrial. Bethea owns several parcels of land adjacent to the site. He said he was concerned that having the site rezoned would allow Howell to develop the property with any of the uses allowed in the industrial zone. Bethea added that Howell has a number of other properties that would be better suited for a billboard. He also said that there have been a number fatalities at that intersection and a billboard would be another distraction.
“I just feel that we cannot afford the luxury of allowing that property to go commercial and all that implies,” Bethea said.
But Councilman Curtis Leak asked if was true that Bethea had sold some of his land near the site for commercial use. Leak was the only council member to oppose denying Howell’s request.
Gib McCall, who lives in Scotch Meadows, said he was not opposed to the billboard, but to the new zoning classification for the site. McCall said he represented a group of residents.
“We are not trying to keep him from advertising his business,” McCall said. “But we don’t think rezoning that to industrial is the right way to go about it.”
Council members agreed, and suggested to Howell that he come back with a request for an industrial district zone that would narrowly restrict his use of the site. By law, the city could not amend Tuesday’s request without re-advertising and holding another public hearing.
“It is times like these when it can be a challenge to sit on council,” Councilman Kenton Spenser said. “We want to be supportive of local business, but we also have a responsibility to the neighbors and to the environment. We have to balance those two needs.”
Howell said he would make a new request.
“I will do whatever we need to make this work,” he said. “If there is another option, we are open to it.”
In other business, council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor and city clerk to execute a deed to the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation for 10 acres of land at the Laurinburg Maxton Airport.
The county’s spec building sits on the land. Officials said an unnamed industrial prospect is considering the site.