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Albemarle hears zoning requests, sewer rehab report

Albemarle City Council opened its meeting Tuesday with a public hearing on the rezoning of a Salisbury Avenue property.

The tract, near Grace Baptist Church, contains a small building known as “Cannon Hut,” which was purchased by Chuck Nance in 2018. It was subsequently leased to Robert Hathcock, who seeks to repurpose the building as an auction house.

According to Planning Services Director Kevin Robinson, this is not allowed under the tract’s current R-8 zoning. Hathcock and Nance then requested a rezoning of the lot to General Highway Business District.

A couple residents spoke against the rezoning.

“If you change it to GHBD, then it could eventually become almost anything,” Donna Efird said. “I don’t see how they could have enough parking for an auction house.”
Attorney Kirk Bowling, representing Nance and Hathcock, asked that the request be sent back to the City Planning Board (which had earlier rejected the request by a 7-0 vote), with the stipulation that any board members involved with the city’s current litigation against Nance recuse themselves from voting.

“This would eliminate any appearance of conflict or impropriety,” Bowling said.

Councilman Chris Bramlett balked at the idea of sending the issue back to the planning board.

“The vote was 7-0,” he said. “I can’t see how sending it back would change the outcome.”

Bramlett asked Robinson if there was any zoning designation that would allow use of the hut as an auction house without the potential for future changes that a General Highway Business District designation would allow.

Councilman Bill Aldridge moved that the issue be tabled until the first meeting in October, and that Robinson explore whether a conditional use permit could be granted to allow operation of an auction house under the current zoning. The motion was seconded by Bramlett and passed unanimously.

Wastewater Update

Adam Kiker of LKC Engineering updated council on two matters. The first, applying for a Special Order of Consent for the city’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system, would reduce penalties for wastewater overflows and spills while creating opportunities for grant applications to correct the situation.

“With the rainy conditions Albemarle has experienced, there have been nine instances in 2019 in which the city was cited,” Kiker said.

Kiker also requested a resolution to implement Phase III of the city’s Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project.

Both requests were approved.

In other business, council members:

• Heard an update from the city’s Special Events Committee on the upcoming Autumn Extravaganza on Oct. 25 and 26;

• Approved road closures for the Pinups and Pumps Car Show and an Albemarle High School pep rally;

• Amended the times of certain school zone and one-way street designations as a result of the new staggered school schedule implemented by Stanly County Schools; and

• Discussed street lighting improvements along the N.C. Highway 24-27 Bypass.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.