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City will ask county to form joint committee to study flooding

By Allen Turner, The News Reporter

Whiteville City Council unanimously Tuesday night voted to ask Columbus County to join the city in forming a joint ad hoc committee to study flooding in the White Marsh basin and approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance that will allow storefront churches as conditional uses in the downtown business district.

City Manager Darren Currie will ask to be placed on the agenda for an upcoming county commissioners’ meeting to pitch the idea of the city and county appointing a joint committee to study issues. “There’s no quick fix,” Currie said, “but working together will be beneficial for everyone.”

The city will propose that the county appoint four members, all of whom reside within the White Marsh basin, to the nine-member committee. All five city appointees would live within the city limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction area.

Under the proposal, the mayor of Whiteville and chairman of the county commissioners would serve as ex officio members of the committee, as would the city and county managers, the county soil and water conservation director and the soil and water district conservationist. Mayor Terry Mann has compiled a list of 11 people from the city who have expressed an interest in serving.

In a related matter, council unanimously passed a resolution to be sent to the county’s legislative delegation requesting that regional water management positions be added by the state for purposes of watershed management.

Council completed action first discussed in January when they voted unanimously to make a storefront church a conditional allowed use in the downtown business district, zones B-3 and I-3. Previously, such use was unconditional. Existing storefront churches would be grandfathered in and could continue to operate as long as there is not a stoppage in operation.

CPA Alan Thompson presented council with a strong audit report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018. The general fund revenues for the year were $5.9 million and expenditures were $5.6 million. The fund balance (rainy day savings) of $4.1 million includes $2.04 million nonspendable and restricted (reserved per state statute) funds ande $2.06 million in unassigned (and available) funds.

In other business, council approved a policy under which city staff will collect rents for parking areas from business using land owned by Alice Braswell and forward the rent to her. This previously had been accomplished by the Whiteville Downtown Development Corp. (WDDC) before it was merged with city government.

Council also approved changes, mostly technical, to the emergency services ordinance. The changes were necessary to keep the city in compliance with evolving state laws. .

In a budgetary housekeeping matter, council established a project fund for the Mollies Branch sewer construction project, which is being funded by the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality.

Stuart Rogers