Local News

Hope Mills board to discuss overlay zoning, consider Sheetz gas station

hope mills logoThe Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday night, Aug. 15 will discuss zoning overlay districts as a way to guide growth in the town.
The board has a special meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss business overlay districts. The regular board meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
In July, the board placed a temporary moratorium on certain businesses while town staff works to create an overlay district.

The temporary moratorium, which is in effect until January, 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.

During the regular board meeting, the board will hold a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of 1.19 acres from C1(P) Planned Local Business to R5 Single Family, or a more restrictive zoning district. The property is at 4092 Professional Drive and the request was submitted by Longleaf Properties on behalf of the Cumberland County Hospital System Inc., which owns the property, according to materials in the agenda package.

The board also is scheduled to receive an update from architect Scott Garner on the Public Safety Building. Garner last reported to the board that the project is moving along and on time.

As the building reaches its final stages, the town has fine-tuned plans to address the needs of the employees who will make use of the facilities. Garner in recent meetings has asked the board to approve items that were paid for from the project’s contingency fund. Monday’s meeting does not include such a request, according to the agenda.

The building is scheduled to be occupied this fall.

In other business, the board has several items on its consent agenda. Items on the consent agenda are generally passed with little or no discussion by the board.
One of the items is the consideration of a Sheetz gas station on the southeast corner of Chickenfoot Road and the U.S. 301 service road. The station would be on 10.6 acres that are part of a 92-acre plot that is currently vacant, according to materials in the agenda package.

The developer plans to build a 6,879-square-foot Sheetz that will accommodate six double-sided gas pumps for regular cars and eight double-sided gas pumps for diesels. The site would include 45 parking spaces with an additional 39 overnight parking spaces for tractor-trailers. The development also would include a 1,649-square-foot car wash and truck scale, according to a report from Chancer McLaughlin, the development services director, to Town Manager Scott Meszaros.

Town staff recommends approval of the request.

Also on the consent agenda, the board will consider authorizing the town manager to sign an annual storm drain cleaning contract for 2022-23. The $100,000 contract is with Intragrade and is included in the current budget.

In a memo to Meszaros, stormwater administrator Elisabeth Brown wrote: “Storm drain maintenance is a very important part of the drainage systems’ functional ability to carry rainwater from the streets during peak rain events.

“Many of the systems in Town are older and have small-sized piping. During heavy rain events, drains can become clogged with yard debris and sediment washing from private property. For the last three years, the cleaning contract proved to be very beneficial during flash flooding events.’’

Also on the consent agenda, the town will consider accepting state funding for stormwater projects and approval of a related resolution and budget amendment. The town had asked for $300,000 for stormwater projects and is receiving $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act Funds through the state, according to materials in the agenda package.

Cumberland County students can get immunizations at upcoming clinics

immunization Back-to-school immunizations will be available for students in Cumberland County Schools at several upcoming clinics.

The school system is partnering with the Cumberland County Department of Public Health to offer immunization clinics for students entering kindergarten, seventh grade and 12th grade, according to a news release from the school system.

COVID-19 vaccines also are available at the clinics for schoolchildren and teenagers in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Walk-ins will be accepted each day until the clinic reaches capacity, the release said. Walk-ins will not be accepted after 6:30 p.m. Insurance information will be collected, but vaccines are free for children younger than 18.

State law requires every child attending a North Carolina school to receive vaccines for diphtheria, measles, mumps and whooping cough. The full vaccine schedule for children is at immunize.nc.gov/family/immnz_children.htm.

Clinics for students entering grades seven and 12 are scheduled for:

4-7 p.m. Sept. 6, Mac Williams Middle School, 4644 Clinton Road.

4-7 p.m. Sept. 8, Douglas Byrd Middle School, 1616 Ireland Drive.

4-7 p.m. Sept. 15, Lewis Chapel Middle School, 2150 Skibo Road.

A clinic for students entering kindergarten and grades seven and 12 is scheduled for 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Cumberland County Health Department, 1235 Ramsey St.

At each clinic in September, the first 50 students who are immunized will receive a $10 gift card, according to the release. A parent or guardian over age 18 must accept the card on behalf of the student.

Students who are immunized also may receive free backpacks and hygiene kits. Funding for the immunization clinics is provided by the Cornelia “Neill” Bullock Wilkins Charitable Endowment.
For more information about immunizations, go to btsg.ccs.k12.nc.us.

Debate heats up as deadline looms on plan to change Fayetteville elections Vote Yes initiative would add more at-large seats on City Council

vote yes3 copy An effort to restructure how Fayetteville City Council members are elected hit a snag this week when the council delayed action on whether to put the issue before voters in November.

The City Council is facing an Aug. 22 deadline to decide whether to put the question on the ballot in a Nov. 8 referendum.

The issue was removed from the council's agenda at a June 27 work session and its Aug. 8 regular meeting, when questions were raised about whether the advocacy group promoting the change, Vote Yes Fayetteville, had filed all the paperwork needed to get the referendum on the ballot.

Mayor Mitch Colvin and others say there’s still enough time to make a decision on a referendum, whether at the council’s Aug. 22 meeting or at a called meeting before that date.

Colvin said Friday that he opposes the Vote Yes plan, which would require that four of the nine City Council members be elected by citywide voting rather than voting by district.

“I just don't think it's what's needed at this time, and I'm suspicious as to why this has come up now,” Colvin said. “I think, one, it dilutes the vote. So, do I get better representation from the president because he represents everyone in the United States, or do I still need a Congress person that helps my district? I think dilution of it — taking your representation and spreading it across the city — gives me less access to my representative, not more. They don't have the same focus that a district representative would have about my specific concerns.

“Fundamentally, I don't believe in the concept of it,” Colvin said. “Two, I did again question the timing of it as to why it’s an issue. And, basically, the people who support it are former council members who basically operated within a district system, and you didn’t really hear an issue with it. And so, it’s suspicious on the timing. Third, again, it makes it tougher to run a citywide race. That, in and of itself, is going to narrow the people who are able to participate in the election process.”

Asked if she thinks some council members want to delay action so that they do not meet the Aug. 22 deadline to put the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot, Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram replied, “Probably so.”

“I think you would have to ask the mayor that,” Ingram said this week. “He is the one who pushed to have it delayed. And all the council members who voted, probably didn’t state why they were not supporting it to go forward.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Colvin said, “Certainly not,” when asked if he is trying to delay action on the issue.

“We were prepared and had it on the agenda to do what we’re required to do," Colvin said. "And when we asked if all the requirements were met, it was revealed that they weren’t. I think that’s prudent leadership by the City Council to make sure that we’re compliant with the law. I think, legislatively, it’s in there for a reason. I think it’s upon the Vote Yes people to explain why it is they were able to or felt that they could circumvent the process.

“I’ve said before,” Colvin said. “Whether it’s a special meeting or in that (Aug. 22 regular monthly) meeting, the City Council is prepared to place a valid petition on the ballot.”

There's still time, he said.

Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the N.C. State Board of Elections, said Friday it is up to the City Council to determine the validity of the Vote Yes petition.

The petition issue never made the council's final agenda at its meeting Monday night, city staff members have said, after questions were raised about whether the advocacy group promoting the change, Vote Yes Fayetteville, had filed all the paperwork needed to get the referendum on the ballot.

Change vs. status quo

The Vote Yes initiative would restructure the way City Council members are elected. Instead of all nine members being elected by district, four members would be elected citywide, and five would be elected from larger districts. The mayor would still be elected citywide.

Supporters say the plan would strengthen the council, provide better representation for all voters and result in the election of more “big-picture” council members. CityView Today publisher Tony Chavonne is among those who organized the Vote Yes petition drive.

But some opponents agree with the mayor that the change would dilute minority voting strength and make it more expensive for candidates who would have to run citywide campaigns rather than district campaigns.

Jimmy Buxton, president of the Fayetteville branch of the NAACP, says the restructuring is designed to undercut Black voters’ influence.

Buxton said his organization is firmly opposed to the initiative.

“We have a ‘Vote No’ committee,” Buxton said. “Our political action committee has come up with a video and some talking points to vote ‘no’ on that.”
Buxton said the NAACP has opposed such initiatives since taking on a plan to restructure City Council elections in 2007. At that time, the NAACP took the matter to the U.S. Justice Department, which overturned the voters’ approval of a plan to add at-large seats on the grounds that at-large seats diluted Black voters’ ability to elect the candidate of their choice.

Angie Amaro, interim director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections, said Wednesday that she was consulting with the county attorney on the matter. She declined to say whether the petition calling for the referendum has been certified as having enough signatures from city residents.

Amaro, who a staff member said was out of the office on Friday, did not respond to phone messages seeking comment on the status of the consultation.

In a news release in June, the Vote Yes group said: “We have been officially notified that the Cumberland County Board of Elections has authenticated the necessary 5,000 registered voter signatures and that the Vote Yes Fayetteville referendum will be presented to the Fayetteville City Council for inclusion on an upcoming city-wide ballot.’’

State law says that petitions for city charter amendments must be signed by 10% of registered voters in that city or by 5,000 voters, whichever is fewer. When a petition is submitted with enough signatures, the governing body of that city must set a special election on the proposed change.

If a majority votes for the change, state law says, city leaders must amend the charter.

Paperwork questions

Bobby Hurst, one of the organizers of Vote Yes Fayetteville and a former member of the City Council, said Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefield has said that everything seems to be in order on the referendum petition.

Moorefield could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Hurst said Mayor Colvin's attorney, Jonathan Charleston, suggested that the Vote Yes group may not have followed the “notice of circulation” procedure to get signatures on its petition.

State Statute Chapter 163, Article 19, says, “Notice of circulation of a petition calling for any election or referendum shall be registered with the county board of elections with which the petition is to be filed, and the date of registration of the notice shall be the date of issuance and commencement of circulation of the petition.”

The mayor said the council has not received the information it requested from the county Board of Elections, which is whether a notice of circulation was filed.

“So we’ve asked for it,” he said Wednesday. “… It’s my understanding from the lawyers of the board it doesn’t exist. They didn’t do it, so we don’t know where they are. The city is ready to do what is statutorily required to do, but only with a valid petition.”

According to Hurst, Fayetteville lawyer Neil Yarborough told the committee that the "notice of circulation" procedure does not apply to the Vote Yes petition.

On Friday, Yarborough said he had been asked by a committee member “to write a letter complaining about (the petition item) being removed from their consent meeting, and I did that.”

“I had a conversation with a member of the Vote Yes committee right before the City Council meeting on Monday in which I was informed about the possible issue with the scheduling of the referendum election,” he said. “I have not been asked to issue a formal opinion about this issue, and I have not issued a formal opinion.”

At Monday night’s meeting, Councilwoman Ingram made a motion to move forward with the referendum contingent on the council receiving all necessary documents from the county Board of Elections, Colvin said Friday.

Ingram's motion failed, 6-4, with Colvin, Wright, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Yvonne Kinston, D.J. Haire and Antonio Jones voting against it.

Haire made a second motion to direct City Attorney Karen McDonald to take the referendum off the agenda.

Haire's motion passed on an 8-2 vote, with Kinston and Banks-McLaughlin in opposition.

Colvin said Friday the council is still waiting to hear from the Board of Elections and had not seen the petition request.

“They're not returning calls,” he said.

Ingram said Wednesday she has an opinion about Vote Yes Fayetteville but does not want to say what it is “right now.”

“I think both sides — the Vote Yes and the Vote No — should do justice to make sure they are connected to their constituents,” she said. “Any opportunity that I have, I want to make sure that the residents get a full understanding on both sides — what it could mean for Fayetteville.”

Vote Yes organizer Hurst said Wednesday that the City Council should move forward on scheduling the referendum.

"I submitted 5,000-plus names on March 18. We met it by a few days having the numbers needed,” Hurst said. “As far as I know, we had it turned in within a year. And everything was good. …

“As far as I know, we're good to go, and it's up to the City Council to move forward with that ballot,” Hurst added.

As far as possible racist motives being behind the initiative, Hurst said, "Absolutely not. ... Why would you say it's racist and in Fayetteville? Fayetteville has more Blacks registered to vote and more Blacks in the population. And looking at Blacks who have been elected at-large — Marshall Pitts, Charles Evans, even others. So, I don't think it's racist at all. I feel it's just for better government.

"My focus was a decision made for what's better for the city as a whole," Hurst said. "My focus was what was better for the city."

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be re

Fayetteville police: Pedestrian in critical condition after being hit on Owen Drive

pedestrian A pedestrian is in critical condition after being hit by a vehicle Saturday morning on Owen Drive, the Fayetteville Police Department said.

Just after 6 a.m., officers were dispatched to a pedestrian-involved traffic accident on the 2800 block of Owen Drive. The pedestrian was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center before officers arrived, police said in a news release. The pedestrian is in critical condition, the release said.

The driver remained on the scene, police said. The names of those involved are being withheld while the investigation continues, police said.

The preliminary investigation indicates the pedestrian stepped onto the roadway into oncoming traffic and was struck, the release said. Owen Drive from Camden Road toward Eastern Boulevard was temporarily closed while the Traffic Unit investigated. The road reopened around 8:30 a.m.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Officer J. Smith at 910-987-4510 or Crimestoppers at 910-483-TIPS (8477).

Fayetteville police: Teen wanted in fatal shooting found in Maryland

FPD logo A teenager wanted in a fatal shooting Thursday night, Aug. 11 has been arrested in Maryland, the Fayetteville Police Department said.

Karon Peair Streets, 19, was taken into custody by the Baltimore County Police Department’s Fugitive Unit and will be extradited back to North Carolina, Fayetteville police said in a release Saturday afternoon.

Streets is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Cesar Ivan Viera-Medina of Fayetteville, the department said.

At approximately 8:13 p.m. Thursday, officers were dispatched to the 200 block of North Windsor Drive in reference to a robbery where a firearm was taken. Eight minutes later, officers were dispatched to the 200 block of South Windsor Drive where shots were fired and Viera-Medina was struck in the arm and chest, the release said.

Viera-Medina was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died, police said.

“The preliminary investigation has revealed the suspect robbed a family member of a handgun from the 200 block of N. Windsor Drive fled on foot and opened fire on a residence in the 200 block of S. Windsor Drive,’’ the release said.

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