The Wadesboro Town Council voted for an increase in a fire district tax and voted down a proposed RV park during its meeting on Monday.
The park’s proposed location on Airport Road was controversial as nearby residents complained that there were safety concerns about having a park so close to home. The board heard both from supporters of the park and residents who were against it.
Don Altieri acknowledged that there may be safety concerns to take care of, but asked the board to consider the financial benefit of such a facility. Riders participating in the Discover Anson Bike Ride and visitors from Charlotte looking for a fun weekend away would have a place to stay while spending money at local businesses, and there would be taxes and other revenues to consider, he pointed out.
Chris Azar, who planned to build the park, also argued for it, saying that both park personnel and the local authorities would have full rights to evict problem guests. He also said that while he understood concerns about guests who stayed permanently, leaving only for the mandatory couple of days between 30-day periods, he would be willing to put restrictions in place to keep guests from becoming permanent residents. “There are rules,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
Residents of Airport Road against the park argued that Airport Road already has more traffic than is safe on a narrow curvy road and that adding more from the park would be a safety concern. They were also wary of having unknown visitors camping in a park adjacent to or near their own properties. Additionally, they said the area already has a park with available activities.
The issue, which was tabled a couple of months ago, has dragged out as debates continued. “I have some strong reservations about this project, and some strong reservations about the annexations, but we need to be done with this,” Councilman Bobby Usrey said. “I will make a motion for it so it can either go ahead or die for a lack of a vote so we can be done with it.” When no councilman voted the motion died, denying Azar the park.
The council voted to increase the fire district tax by two cents. The Wadesboro Fire Department assists several other departments in its fire district for mutual aid calls; additionally, it began responding to all vehicle accidents involving an injury several years ago. Combined, these factors may contribute to the constant call increase the department has had the last several years.
In 1986, the fire tax was 5 cents. It is now only 5.6 cents, despite the fact that 5 cents in 1986 is equivalent to 11 cents in 2014, according to Town Manager Alex Sewell, who cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ inflation calculator. Richmond County has a 10-cent fire tax while Robeson County’s is higher.
Fire Chief Marc Sessions cited concerns about residents’ insurance rates (ISO), the department’s aging fire fleet, its inability to meet and maintain safety standards, a lack of modern IT equipment and increased facility maintenance costs and life safety hazards as factors in his request for the tax increase. The department’s fire engines are approaching 30 years old, much older than the 20-year life expectancy suggested by the NFPA.
Ultimately, the department needs to care for its deteriorating equipment before it affects its services. “It’s not a pleasant topic but it will hurt the service level if we don’t do anything about it,” Sewell said.
The council voted on a two-cent increase. The board’s request will be voted on during an upcoming meeting of the county commissioners. If approved, it will only affect citizens living in the fire district but not inside Wadesboro city limits.
Uptown Wadesboro, Inc.
Uptown Wadesboro, Inc., chair Brook Crider approached the council and requested that it consider adding a full-time director’s position to UWI. UWI has been a part of the North Carolina Main Street program for years, and is currently the only participating town that does not have a paid director. As the national program is increasing its standards, UWI has been informed that it needs to hire a director to stay in compliance. The council will consider her and UWI’s request.
The board also held a public hearing about rezoning two properties for a proposed 48-unit apartment and a proposed 60-unit apartment. Rea Ventures Group LLC is planning on building 48 units of affordable multi-family housing off Highway 74 near Anson High School Road. The two-story garden-style apartments would be financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity and have a target market demographic of workforce families earning up to 50 and 60 percent of the area median income. They would include one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments with rent prices determined income and unit size.
A representative for the company alleviated some council members’ concerns when he said that the apartments would be professionally managed and require screenings of potential residents. He will find out if the project is funded in August. The council approved the rezoning contingent upon the financing for the project being received.
The second rezoning request for a 60-unit apartment, which would be located near U.S. 52 North, was denied. The apartments, which also would have gone on Highway 74, would not have been rental subsidized. The council followed the zoning board’s recommendation to turn the project down.
In other business:
- Priscilla Nunn informed the council of her ideas to beautify Salisbury Street and having landowners keep buildings up to code.
- The board voted to repair broken pumps on Burns Street.
- The council discussed trash pickup options, but tabled the issue until the next meeting.
- The council discussed purchasing trees to beautify Salisbury Street, but are considering issues including utility line conflicts. It will revisit the issue during its May meeting.
- The board voted to donate a requested $150 for a hole sponsorship for the Chamber of Commerce’s golf tournament through individual board member donations rather than city funds.
- Eric Forbes and Andy Maynor were approved to fill two Planning and Adjustment Board vacancies.
- The town received a 100 percent grant ($25,000) to do a comprehensive pedestrian plan to identify trouble areas, consider sidewalk placement, and work on other concerns.
The board went into closed session for a real property contract. It will hold its next regular meeting on May 5 at 5 p.m.