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Commissioners set public hearing on shooting ranges

Revised on: 08.9.2018 at 04:26 p.m.

Posted on: 08.9.2018 at 04:25 p.m.

By Allen Turner

Columbus County commissioners Monday night scheduled three public hearings on Aug. 20 concerning shooting ranges, an economic development grant for Boys and Girls Home and the Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department.

Few details were given, but the hearing to revisit shooting range regulations was requested by Planning Director Samantha Alsup. Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 20, the hearing will be to receive public input regarding enacting regulations on the establishment of commercial shooting range facilities in the county. 

“Such regulations are needed due to potential noise impacts and safety concerns,” she wrote in a memo to commissioners. “Regulation of such activities would minimize any adverse effects on adjoining properties and the local community.” Commissioners got an earful about shooting ranges at a public hearing in February, particularly about a facility in the Nakina/Pireway area, but took no action then on enacting an ordinance.

A 6:30 p.m. public hearing on Aug. 20 will receive citizen input on a proposed $30,000 economic development grant to support expansion of the horse stable complex at the Boys and Girls Home at Lake Waccamaw. The grant proposal has been approved by the county EDC board because of its potential to bring tourism dollars to Columbus County. Funds for the grant would come from monies already budgeted as part of Article 44 sales tax proceeds for economic development purposes.

The first Aug. 20 hearing at 6 p.m. will focus on a proposal by the Evergreen Volunteer Fire Dept. to modify its district lines and establish a new substation in the district. Details were not available Monday but are expected to be fully outlined on Aug. 20. The changes are expected to lower rates for fire insurance in the district. Affected property owners already have been notified by the fire department of the hearing.

In other business Monday, commissioners heard a departmental update from Housing Director Rebecca Tyson, approved two federal funding policies as required by law, approved a $100,000 grant to repair about 12 households and designated the Adams Company to administer the grant, approved a $1 million hazard mitigation grant relief assistance project ordinance. They designateded Chairman Amon McKenzie as the county’s voting delegate to the upcoming N.C. Association of County Commissioners annual conference later this month.

Commissioners also heard an impassioned plea from the grandmother of a student at Hallsboro-Artesia Elementary School about issues at the school. While commissioners were sympathetic, they told her the concerns she had raised were beyond their control and urged her to seek a meeting with the Columbus County Board of Education. (A story on the grandmother’s presentation will appear in Tuesday’s edition of this newspaper.)

In the commissioners’ comments portion of the meeting, Charles McDowell reminded staff that with recent wet weather, mosquitoes will be a major problem and urged them to plan accordingly to eradicate the pests as much as possible. Ricky Bullard voiced concern about reports that a new recently installed emergency services radio system is not operating effectively in many parts of the county. Sheriff Lewis Hatcher concurred with Bullard’s concerns. EMS Director Kay Worley was at the meeting but left before Bullard raised his concerns. County Manager Mike Stephens was asked to have Worley attend the Aug. 20 meeting to discuss radio coverage.

Commissioners James Prevatte and Giles E. “Buddy” Byrd expressed concerns about poor drainage in the county and Byrd voiced that the code enforcement ordinance is not resulting in quick cleanup of fire-damaged properties. Gary Lanier, formerly the county planning officer, explained that the ordinance is complaint-driven and that, under its terms, code enforcement activities cannot commence unless complaints are received. Also at Byrd’s urging, commissioners unanimously agreed to ask the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to either purchase or lease property for parking near the Lake Waccamaw boat ramp. Commissioners also unanimously approved a motion by Edwin Russ to ask the N.C. Department of Transportation to include an exit ramp into downtown Whiteville as the DOT completes the new U.S. 701 (Powell Boulevard) project.

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