On Monday night, the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners agreed to place a temporary moratorium on certain businesses while the town’s staff works to create an overlay district.
The moratorium is effective immediately and will stay in place until January, the same month the staff plans to introduce the town’s new overlay districts.
The temporary moratorium allows the town to restrict and even temporarily hold business licenses until an overlay district can be put into place. 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.
“The overlay only affects the commercial district,'' said Chancer McLaughlin, the town’s planning and economic development director.
The board will decide during work sessions which business will be allowed in what commercial areas.
“It just stops certain businesses from being in those particular commercial areas,” McLaughlin said.
“Businesses think we are limiting their uses outright, we are not,’’ he told the board. “We are just saying for a period of time we are not allowing you to move forward.”
McLaughlin said he was still getting calls from concerned business owners about the moratorium and the overlay districts. However, those calls are mostly from businesses that have just been approved and are preparing to go forward. The new policies will only affect businesses that have not applied for a license and are in their current planning phases.
The board held a public hearing on the proposed moratorium before the vote. No one spoke during the hearing.
The moratorium includes the following businesses:
● Motor vehicle parts and accessory sales.
● Motor vehicle repair and/or body work.
● Motor vehicle rentals.
● Motor vehicle sales, new and used.
● Retail establishments primarily tied to smoke shops and vape establishments.
The board also heard an update on the public safety building project from its architect, Scott Garner, and unanimously passed a requested change order for nearly $75,000.
Before the vote, Commissioners Joanne Scarola and Grilley Mitchell raised concerns regarding one of the items listed on the change order — a motorized damper listed at $12,873 for the kitchen’s four-burner gas stove.
Both asked whether the change was necessary.
Garner stepped aside to allow Steve Lopez, the town’s operations chief, to better explain the expense. The motorized damper was required for the stove and allowed firemen who live at the station to access the stove in large groups. Lopez said that on some days, as many as 40 firemen would need access to the kitchen at one time and that particular damper was required by code. The expense also paid for additional ducts and wiring.
After hearing from Lopez, the board approved the change order.
In other business, the board also voted to move forward with its proposed splash pad and voted to allow the town manager to negotiate the deal with Carolina Parks and Play.
The splash pad will have a baseball theme, making it unique to the town.
Before the vote, Commissioner Bryan Marley expressed his excitement about the project and the board’s ability to get it done.
“This is another item that all the citizens have asked for,’’ Marley said. “Once again, this board is finally getting it done and moving forward with it.”
After the vote, Town Manager Scott Meszaros took a moment to recognize Parks and Recreation Director Lamarco Morrison for his drive in making the town’s vision a reality.