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Whiteville slates budget workshop ahead of regular Tuesday meeting

By Allen Turner, The News Reporter

The Whiteville City Council will hold a budget workshop Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., three hours ahead of their regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 p.m. During the regular meeting, they’ll continue their ongoing recodification of town ordinances and discuss the results of a recent survey of historical districts and properties in the city.

During the budget workshop, City Manager Darren Currie will give council a yearly operational review and department heads will make their annual funding requests of the governing board.

One major item to be considered during the workshop is whether a new position, manager of community and economic development, will be included in the upcoming budget. The Whiteville Downtown Development Corp. (WDDC) has voted to merge with the city effective July 1, and it is anticipated that council will accede to the merger by funding the new position.

Mayor Terry Mann said last week that city officials have been in agreement in informal discussions that they hope to find someone who can focus not necessarily on large industries but, instead, concentrate on recruiting small businesses to Whiteville.

“Hopefully,” Mann said, “we can get somebody that has some real estate background, too, someone who maybe could work on brokering some deals for some of the empty buildings we have both downtown and in the shopping strips.”

The mayor said that, as he envisions the new position, the person appointed will be responsible, not only for economic development downtown and elsewhere in the city, but also for managing the operations of Vineland Station, in which the city holds a majority ownership share (Columbus County and R.J. Corman Railroad are the other owners).

Beth King and Claudia Brown of the State Historical Preservation Office will be on hand to discuss the findings of a 2017 architectural survey, which suggests there is a possibility for two historic districts in Whiteville, as well as historical designations for some other properties.

Brown said in 2017 that, should council decide to hire a consultant for nominating properties for inclusion in the National Historic Register, the costs could be between $7,500 and $15,000.

If a consultant is hired, he or she would handle the entire process for the city, a process that would include surveys, raw data, maps, pictures, writing essays and other associated tasks.

A 32-page draft animal control ordinance would recodify the existing regulations. A staff memo accompanying the proposed ordinance says it attempts to answer questions such as how many pets a resident or property owner can own, whether chickens can be kept inside the city and what can be done about a neighbor’s barking dog and also provides general definitions for stronger code enforcement matters. However, a reading of the draft does not reveal how many pets a resident can have.

Under the proposed ordinance, no animals could roam freely at large, chickens could be kept in the city limits but must be contained by a fence, coop or enclosed run freely, and that keeping chickens for breeding purposes or commercial egg or meat production would be prohibited.

With the exception of miniature potbellied pigs, swine would be prohibited in the city. With the exceptions of chickens and miniature pigs, the keeping of all fowl and livestock would be prohibited.

The ordinance also defines “nuisance” animals and “dangerous” dogs, creates regulations for disposal of animal wastes and provides civil penalties of $50, $75 and $100 for first, second, third and more than three violations of the ordinance.

Council is expected to wrap up work Tuesday on recodification of all city codes into a new ordinance which essentially would bring all now-existing ordinances into a single, unified code.

That catch-all ordinance will be up for final approval on Tuesday’s agenda and approval is expected.

Stuart Rogers