Stanly commissioners pass resolution to support Lighthouse Road closure

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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The Stanly County Board of Commissioners, by a 5-2 vote, passed a resolution to support the abandonment of a road in the Oakboro community to allow a private company to take over its maintenance.

With dissenting votes against the resolution from Vice Chairman Mike Barbee and Commissioner Brandon King, the resolution states the board’s support for the state’s Department of Transportation to abandon State Route 1108 (Lighthouse Road). It will be maintained by Charlotte Pipe and Foundry.

According to an economic development agreement signed by the county and company in May 2020, a .62 mile section of the road adjacent to the new foundry was to fall under the purview of Charlotte Pipe.

The agreement said the county “must work to promptly process Charlotte Pipe’s request to close a portion of Lighthouse Road.”

Oakboro’s town commission passed a similar resolution in November last year to support abandoning the portion of the road which was in the town’s limits.

A letter in the agenda packet from Charlotte Pipe’s lawyer, Stephen Hunting, to County Manager Andy Lucas, states the closure of the road was “to facilitate the safe and efficient operation of the daily vehicle traffic at the foundry, including the regular arrival and departure of tractor trailers carrying the products manufactured at the foundry.”

At Monday’s commissioners meeting, Charlotte Pipe Vice Chairman Roddey Dowd Jr. spoke during public comments about the resolution and closing of the road before the item came before the board.

Dowd said the foundry “went live” Sept. 11 and is now at full production six months later. The new facility cost $460 million and has 550 employees, exceeding the numbers in the EDC agreement of $36o million and 350 jobs.

Regarding the road’s closure, Dowd said it was “critical to the construction of the facility.”

“We think it’s important for the safety of our employees and the safety of people in the county to close it down,” Dowd said.

He said an active railroad crossing that goes across the road is now behind a gate. He said the company has purchased approximately 700 additional acres around the foundry. The land purchases will be “kept in its normal agricultural or forestry conditions with no plans for change,” he said.

Dowd said the Aberdeen railroad has a switching station in Oakboro and the railroad does a lot of switching and loading there. However, he said the only crossing is the one across Lighthouse Road.

In presenting the resolution to commissioners, Lucas said he had “made some assumptions” about how much members of the board knew regarding the EDC agreement, noting several board members were not on the board in 2020.

Barbee said he had received “a lot of phone calls” about the road closure for the last month or so about “the legality of government or state officials giving away a public highway.” He said he was not concerned about the road being given to Charlotte Pipe specifically, saying he was more concerned about “how the bargaining went, that one authority…would cancel the county and state in obtaining the road.”

Commissioner Peter Asciutto said he was changing his vote from the last time the item came up, saying he was defending the DOT because of his time on the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization.

“Those guys from the DOT are professionals,” Asciutto said. “They take recommendations from different municipalities that have representatives there.”

Commissioner Patty Crump, speaking at the meeting via phone, said she also was changing her vote because of the safety issues of traffic and the railroad, along with previously not having information about the EDC agreement.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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