Robeson County Commissioners delay decision to construct Dollar General in Wisharts

Jessica Horne Staff writer

			
				                                Robeson County Housing Authority “What Home Means to Me” contest winners Braylon McNeil, left, and Aden Casiano hold theeir poster art and listen on as winner Jyron Murphy recites his description of what home means. The contest participants had to submit artwork of what home looks like to them as well as a written summary. The winners were treated to pizza after the commissioners’ meeting Monday.

Robeson County Housing Authority “What Home Means to Me” contest winners Braylon McNeil, left, and Aden Casiano hold theeir poster art and listen on as winner Jyron Murphy recites his description of what home means. The contest participants had to submit artwork of what home looks like to them as well as a written summary. The winners were treated to pizza after the commissioners’ meeting Monday.

<p>Robeson County Housing Authority “What Home Means to Me” contest winners Braylon McNeil, left, and Aden Casiano, middle, and Jyron Murphy stand Monday with Robeson County Commissioners during a regular meeting in which the winners were recognized.</p>

Robeson County Housing Authority “What Home Means to Me” contest winners Braylon McNeil, left, and Aden Casiano, middle, and Jyron Murphy stand Monday with Robeson County Commissioners during a regular meeting in which the winners were recognized.

<p>Taylor</p>

Taylor

<p>Dial</p>

Dial

Editor’s Note: The Robesonian was contacted Nov. 17 and told that John Graves, of Best Friends Animal Society, received complaints from Robeson County residents about the number of animals in the county and lack of resources available to them. Graves did not clarify during the meeting that he was not speaking of the Robeson County Animal Shelter.

LUMBERTON — Robeson County Commissioners punted Monday a decision to move forward with the construction of a Dollar General at N.C. 41 and Allenton Road after hearing concerns from residents in the area.

Robeson County Commissioner Tom Taylor made a motion to table the idea after a public hearing in which four residents of the community spoke against the construction.

David Cox, a community resident, said he is concerned about customers at the prospective Dollar General blaring music or operating loud vehicles while a funeral is being hosted at the cemetery adjacent to the proposed business site’s property. He also said multiple schools in the area and a day care would be affected by the store.

Sarah Britt lives across the street from the site and is concerned about robberies and violence occurring closer to home.

“They have many problems at Food Lion and Dollar General three miles down the road,” Britt said.

“Why they want to bring the problems in our area? They have a lot of robberies. They have a lot of violence and why do they want to bring it to my area and I want to know how far are they going in my yard,” she added.

Diane Russ voiced concern for violence already in her community and how adding the store could increase the violence and affect her grandchildren as they grow up. She also said a trailer park in the area has caused problems and that she doesn’t want more crime.

“I’m fed up with it. If y’all want it, y’all vote for it and put it in y’all’s community,” she said.

Taylor said he desired to speak to more people about the project. He and Commissioner Wixie Stephens left the room briefly to speak to the residents following the public hearing.

The proposed Dollar General would offer items like fresh produce, milk and meat items.

“People who live out of town need convenient stores where they can run in an get milk and bread and aluminum foil,” said Thomas Neville, a Fayetteville attorney who spoke in favor of the store.

John Parker, project manager at Rhetson Companies Inc., said the store “felt like a good fit for the area.”

The store was recommended by the Robeson County Planning Board. Fencing is to be placed around the store.

Other matters

In other matters, commissioners approved a special use permit to allow a family cemetery to be established in a Residential Agricultural District on Red Hill Road. Commissioner David Edge was not present Monday and did not vote. Stephens and Taylor also had not yet returned to the room to vote on the item.

Also approved by the commissioners was the amendment of Section 3.14 of the Robeson County Zoning Ordinance.

“It’s a clean up on a play of words that’s what it is,” said Jackie Eason, assistant director for Robeson County Community Development.

The amendment includes a subsection that states property under the section must be at the corner of state maintained roads. Before the amendment, the section used the word “if.” The amendment makes the ordinance compliance with state statutes, said Robeson County Attorney Rob Davis.

“We went in and cleaned that up to make it clear,” Eason said.

Robeson County Housing Authority updates

Also on Monday, commissioners were invited to the retirement ceremony of Barbara Huggins on Jan. 3. She will retire with 27 years of service in various roles to the Robeson County Housing Authority. Huggins serves as the RCHA’s Finance specialist.

Niakeya Jones Cooper, executive director of the RCHA, stated that the Housing Authority’s nonprofit entity “Robeson Development Corporation, Incorporated” was approved by the state in October.

The nonprofit will allow the Housing Authority to seek more funding to address housing needs, she said.

“It’s our goal to establish more housing for residents of Robeson County,” Cooper said.

Cooper also told commissioners about various events held within the RCHA locations in the county. As part of Housing America Month in October, various events were held including a poster contest titled “What home means to me.” The contest compelled participants to create an art piece on a poster board and compose a short description of the meaning of home.

Winners were chosen from the age groups of 6 to 9 years of age; 10 to 12 years of age; and 13 to 18 years of age. The following winners displayed their work to commissioners: Braylon McNeil, Aden Casiano and Jyron Murphy. Additionally, Murphy read his description of home to commissioners, which was met with applause.

“All I can say is thank-you,” Taylor said.

Commissioner Lance Herndon made a motion to accept the information items offered by the RCHA and extend a formal congratulations to the three contest winners.

Best Friends Animal Society

John Graves, Regional Strategist of Best Friends Animal Society, told commissioners the Nov. 6 pet vaccination and microchip clinic went well. Hundreds of animals were served during the clinic, he said. Several animal rescue organizations also participated.

In addition, 96 were signed up for a free spay-neuter program and 75 put on a waiting list for the next round once more funding comes through to allow BFAS to pay for the program, Graves said.

Graves told commissioners he hasn’t gotten far with the Robeson County Health Department, which manages the Robeson County Animal Shelter. He told commissioners he has heard negative comments from the public concerning the shelter. Graves also said some county residents voiced frustration with the number of animals in the shelter and lack of services.

“It’s a very clean facility,” he said of the shelter.

Graves also spoke highly of the staff who are “doing everything they can.” However, he expressed frustration with management.

Graves said the BFAS will continue to work with the county and within its rescue organizations to prevent euthanasia of animals. He stated the organization has poured more than $120,000 into the county this year alone to help save the lives of animals.

BFAS is a nonprofit organization committed to ending euthanasia of animals. Robeson County leads the state in euthanasia rate.

“We certainly appreciate your effort,” said Faline Dial, the chair of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners.

The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 6.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]