HOPE MILLS — The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday night voted to hold a public hearing in July on a temporary moratorium on some types of businesses while the town staff researches a proposed zoning overlay district.
Chancer F. McLaughlin, the town’s Planning and Economic Development director, appeared before the board to ask for the moratorium.
Overlay zoning is a regulatory tool that creates a special zoning district over existing zoning. It can include additional or different regulations that apply within the district.
McLaughlin said he wants to do more research into overlay districts, which are a way to help guide development. For the past 10 years, there have been some business uses the town has no interest in, McLaughlin said.
“A moratorium is a temporary halt by a government on business permits,” McLaughlin said, reading from a prepared statement.
”Why do we need one?” he asked. “Over the last year, staff have noticed a particular trend in businesses that can create an issue in saturation from economic development.”
“Without these types of checks and balances, citizens and towns are left open to transitions that are detrimental to the town’s growth,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin told the board he had received several calls from concerned businesses. Some board members said they also had been contacted.
Some new businesses expressed concerns that a moratorium would halt their planning. McLaughlin said a moratorium or an overlay district would not affect businesses that already have been approved. McLaughlin said a moratorium would only affect new establishments.
McLaughlin said he has started the research and discovered the town needs to have a public hearing in order to implement a moratorium.
The board decided to move its workshop scheduled for July 18 to Aug. 1 and voted to hold a public hearing on a proposed moratorium on July 18.
In a memo to the board that was included in the agenda packet, McLaughlin said the staff wants a six-month moratorium while they work to develop an overlay district.
The uses that staff would like included in the proposed moratorium include:
● Motor vehicle parts and accessory sales.
● Motor vehicle repair and/or body work.
● Motor vehicle rentals.
● Motor vehicle sales, new and used.
● Retail establishments that are primarily tied to smoke shops and vape establishments.
In other business, the board heard an update on the new public safety building from its architect, Scott Garner. Garner said the building has 40% of the interior painting done, 80% of the tile done and 90% of the plumbing done.
“We just need to set the fixtures,” he said.
Garner said the project is on track, and the building is expected to be occupied by October.
Garner also asked the board to approve the eighth change order for the building. The money would come from the contingency fund.
The biggest item on the list was $66,102 for the building's BDA system, Garner said. The BDA, or Bi-Directional Amplifier, enhances frequencies and gives a signal boost within the building allowing the police and fire personnel to use their required radios, phones and WiFi in the building, Garner told the board.
Commissioner Jerry Legge, who has builder experience, asked Garner why the project wasn’t turn-key.
Garner said there was no way to accommodate or plan for that type of expense using blueprints until the building got to that stage. Garner said this was needed and expected.
Also included in the change order was $9,775 for the removal of a modular trailer.
The trailer initially was going to be used later by the town, but town staff decided it was of no use and needed to be removed, Town Manager Scott Meszaros said. Several people told the staff they would haul it off but those plans fell through, he said.
The trailer has since been hauled away. Meszaros said the funding in the change order was a formality.
Commissioner Joanne Scarola said she would have liked more time to find a use for the trailer.
“We’re not going to use it, and now we have to pay to have it hauled off,” Scarola said.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the change order. Commissioners Bryan Marley, Kenjuana McCray, Grilley Mitchell and Scarola voted in favor of the change order. Legge voted in opposition.
When asked why he voted against the change order Legge said, “I’m tired of change orders. A contingency fund is good to have in case of an emergency. But when we do this over and over, someone didn’t do their homework.”