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City okays land sales for electrical substation and street widening

By Allen Turner, The News Reporter

The Whiteville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to sell Duke Energy Carolinas eight acres of city property on Flitter Hill Road adjacent to the Noland Recreation Center for $90,000 and to sell the property where the Whiteville ABC store currently sits to the N.C. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) for $332,000 for the J.K. Powell Boulevard widening project.

Whiteville City Attorney Carlton Williamson, right, explains the details of a proposed sale of city property to the N.C. Dept. of Transportation to Jim Mauldin during Monday’s city council meeting.

Whiteville City Attorney Carlton Williamson, right, explains the details of a proposed sale of city property to the N.C. Dept. of Transportation to Jim Mauldin during Monday’s city council meeting.

Duke Energy wants to construct a new electrical substation on the Flitter Hill Road property to replace the current substation off Franklin Street near flood-prone Soules Swamp. The $90,000 bid is subject to upset bids.

In response to a question from the audience, City Manager Darren Currie said the proceeds from the sale of the land would go toward making improvements at the recreation center complex, but that the money won’t be nearly enough to install needed lighting and make repairs to the soccer field. The top priority, he said, will be the construction of restroom facilities at the complex, which attracts many walkers and joggers.

The current ABC store must give way to the DOT widening project and the city has purchased land at the corner of Powell Boulevard and Oak Street for a new building. The $332,000 DOT will pay the city for the current ABC property for the road widening will cover the $215,000 the city paid The News Reporter, Inc. for the new store site, with enough left over to partially cover construction costs of a new store.

The sale of the property to DOT originally had been scheduled for closed session but without explanation was moved to the open session portion of the agenda. Earlier, this newspaper had raised questions about the discussion being in closed session because state law permits closed sessions for the discussion of acquisition of real property, but not for disposition of such property.

Because the ABC property transaction is between two governmental entities, it is not subject to upset bid and the action is final.

In a related but separate item, Council also agreed to sell the DOT two small portions of city-owned land on either side of Powell Boulevard in the Talbot Street area for $1,400. Whiteville resident Jim Mauldin raised questions about the details of that land deal during the public comments portion of the meeting, questions that were answered to his satisfaction by City Attorney Carlton Williamson.

Matt Oakley of Oakley Collier Architects updated Council on the new city hall under construction and said that the project is expected to be completed no later than April 23. He expressed confidence that the general contractor completing the job is handling the project well. 

In other business, Council unanimously passed a resolution designating Finance Director Colburn Brown as the city’s agent for dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with City Manager Darren Currie named as alternate, on matters relating to Hurricane Florence recovery.

 (Publisher’s Note:  City Councilman Justin Smith is editor of The News Reporter. To avoid any conflict of interest, he has no role in Whiteville City Council coverage.)

Stuart Rogers