12/06/12 — Mount Olive makes plans for projects downtown

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Mount Olive makes plans for projects downtown

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 6, 2012 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- With projects like a new library, a Veterans War Memorial and even a possible Mount Olive College facility downtown, town officials have decided they need help in planning for those and other possibilities.

Mount Olive town commissioners Monday night agreed to extend the town's planning partnership with the N. C. Division of Community Assistance.

"This is the same group that helped us with our comprehensive land use plan," Town Manager Charles Brown told the board. "They basically do this at no cost to us. They do bill us for travel time when they come. They can bill us for meals, but they have never done that."

It is a good deal for the town since with the exception of a $150 fee, it is done at no cost, Brown said.

"There is a $150 upfront fee to get started on the plan," he said.

Commissioners did not comment on any specific projects for the downtown area, but there are at least two in the works.

The first is Wayne County's plans to convert the old Belk department store into the new home for Steele Memorial Library. The new library will be 15,581 square feet compared to the much smaller existing 2,750-square-foot facility.

The library is been touted as a regional facility serving southern Wayne County.

Also in the works is a Veterans War Memorial on the Housing Authority lawn across West Main Street from the Belk building.

Mount Olive College officials have expressed an interest in having a presence in the downtown area.

Commissioners also voted to take up again a proposed Internet cafe ordinance they had tabled two months ago.

The ordinance will be on the board's Jan. 7 agenda.

The ordinance would limit the businesses to C-2 (heavy commercial) and C-4 (major highway corridors) zones.

No one from the public commented during an earlier public hearing. However, the board tabled the issue, telling town attorney Carroll Turner to review the ordinance and offer recommendations.

Turner's revamped proposal maintains the requirement that the cafes be at least 1,500 feet from other Internet cafes, as well as churches, schools, libraries or cemeteries.

It removes a requirement that the business hire a surveyor to certify the distance. It also eliminates limits on the businesses' operating hours. The original proposal would have limited the hours to 8 a.m. to midnight.

In other business, commissioners approved a resolution setting the stage for the town to enter into a maintenance agreement with the state Department of Transportation at the town airport. The maintenance would be for the runway and other operational areas, such as the aprons.

However, board members said they wanted Turner to review the actual maintenance agreement before they sign it.

It would not be the first time the town has entered such an agreement, but the new one appears to have a clause in it that was not part of the previous agreements, Brown said.

Brown said that the town's airport consultant had alerted the town to wording concerning who would be liable for anyone who was injured as result of the state's work at the airport.

Turner said the wording would mean that the liability would fall on the town and not the state. It is possible that the state would tell the town that it would not do the work, which is done at no cost to the town, if that provision were omitted, he said.

"I am trying to limit our liability to our negligence and not anybody else's," Turner said.

"They do it at no cost to the town," Brown said. "We may want to accept the liability as a trade-off before the work is done."

Commissioners voted to allow Habitat for Humanity to use two pieces of town property for two new houses.

The lots are located at 915 and 917 S. Center St.

Allowing the houses to be built will put the properties back on the town's tax rolls, commissioners said.