LUMBERTON — Robeson County commissioners took action Tuesday to approve multiple items related to development and building rehabilitation.
During a regular meeting Tuesday, Robeson County Commissioners approved applying for FY 2022 Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool Program, which is issued by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. The approval will allow for Adrian Lowery, director of the Lumberton Housing Authority, to apply for the funds and act as an administrator on behalf of the county.
Matching funds for the grant are $15,000 and the application fee is $75 according to information provided in the commissioners’ meeting agenda packet.
“The county has received these funds in the past years to help rehab owner-occupied homes throughout the entire County. The NCHFA proposes to make $126,000 available to Robeson County to assist with housing repairs,” a memorandum included in the agenda packet from Lowery to the commissioners reads in part.
“We were able to secure $2,770,679 of Disaster Recovery Funds from NCFHA for Hurricane Matthew. I hope we can continue this process with the FY 2022 ESFRLP,” he wrote.
Lowery said 58 county residents had received rehab assistance through the disaster recovery program. There are still eight units that are needed to be rehabilitated, which will cost about $377,000.
“So since the inception of the program, we’re looking to do about 66 homes that were damaged from Hurricane Matthew and bring into Robeson County federal dollars of a little over $2.8 million and that’s where we sit today,” Lowery said.
Rezoning approval for retail business
Commissioners unanimously approved a request by The Spaulding Group to rezone a 1.72 acre tract area from Residential Agricultural District to Neighborhood Commercial District for the establishment of a retail business on Rennert Road.
The area is near Great Marsh Church Road and Rennert Road, said Dixon Ivey Jr., director of Robeson County Community Development.
The approval was recommended by the Robeson County Planning Board, Ivey said.
No additional information was discussed about the retail business.
Also approved by commissioners was the request for a special use permit by Faulk & Foster to place a 309 foot self-supported telecommunication tower in a Residential Agricultural District on Willoughby Road in Wisharts.
The tower supports cell service, Ivey said.
“It’s much needed there,” he said of the tower.
Preliminary plat approval for subdivision
Commissioners also approved a preliminary plat for McRainey Farm Road Subdivision in a Residential Agricultural District on McMillan Siding Road near Parkton. The plat approval request was made by Sandalwood Realty, LLC.
Ivey said the area does not have county water and the county’s Public Works director said that it could take two years to get county water in place for the area. However, a private company could install the water lines. The rezoning allowed smaller lots to accommodate more stick-built homes in the subdivision.
The applicant also plans to petition the North Carolina Department of Transportation to include the roads in its system for maintenance, Ivey said.
“I think it would be a great tax revenue for the county,” Ivey said.
Robeson County Commissioner Lance Herndon lives near the area in Parkton.
“I think it’d be a very nice addition to the housing community,” Herndon said.
CDBG building reuse grant
Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved applying for a Community Development Block Grant for economic development and building reuse.
The county is applying for funding to allow Champion Homes to locate into a building previously occupied by Fleetwood Homes, said Robeson County Manager Kellie Blue.
Robeson County Housing Authority audit
Commissioners also heard that the Robeson County Housing Authority received a clean audit from Mat Patterson, of Patterson & Associates, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.
Patterson said the Housing Authority received a clean report related to the accurate spending of federal money and its internal control structure “to prevent unauthorized spending of federal funds.”
There were four findings, he said.
One finding was related to the budget, when the Housing Authority borrowed money to begin payments on equipment it purchased. It did not amend the budget to reflect that. COVID funds that came in after the budget, and were spent also was not appropriated in the budget, he said.
“We had two instances where income was not properly verified,” he said.
Four instances were found in which documentation was “incomplete” and one instance “where a medical deduction was calculated incorrectly,” he said.
“None of these findings are earth shattering,” Patterson said.
The firm looks at about 1,500 items during the audit.
“The Authority got about seven or eight of them wrong,” he said.
“Tremendous improvement” has been shown in Authority staff over the last five to six years, Patterson said.
Capital assets like equipment increased $144,000, he said. The total net position of the Housing Authority was about $3,469,267.
The Housing Authority’s cash flow from operations was $128,000.
“So, anytime that number is a strong positive, that’s a good financial position to be in,” he said.
In other matters, commissioners reappointed Josh Walters to the Board of Health.
Commissioner John Cummings said that residents can order free COVID-19 at-home test kits online at https://special.usps.com/testkits.
According to the website, “Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com.”
Each household is limited to one order. The kits will be shipped “starting late January,” according to the site.