Lincoln County Board of Commissioners gave a brief update on county redistricting, spoke with Fayetteville Main Street Board President Jason Nix and discussed potentially condemning the property where the Molino Fire Station is located, among other matters, during last week’s regular session.

The meeting began with an update on the county’s attempt to locate storage for its archives and records. Currently, the county is considering the White Motorsports building, a 5,000-square-foot facility owned by Ricky White. The property is priced at $395,000, and its purchase will be deliberated at the September meeting of the Lincoln County Budget Committee.

County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) representative Melissa Kelton gave the commission an update on county redistricting. Kelton noted the committee assigned to managing the task has done a great job and that six districts were identified as being out of line with current census data. According to Kelton, the next step in the redistricting process is for the committee to meet again to formally approve the redistricting plan. Once the plan is approved, a resolution in its favor will be made, and Kelton will return to the commission with Lincoln County Election Administrator Sheila Allen to establish voting precincts.

The commission also discussed the bi-annual review of Lincoln County’s public records policy with Lincoln County attorney Ed Simms who said a review of the policy yielded only one comment from the legislature. Mayor Bill Newman noted the Planning and Zoning Department’s change of address to 112 Main Avenue South Room 107. After the commission acknowledged the policy had been reviewed, the motion passed unanimously.

Commissioners David Sanders and John Thorpe were unanimously elected to Health Facilities Committee during last week’s meeting. Their terms will expire October 2024.

During the meeting, Planning and Zoning Director Nancy Harris introduced Mickey Capley, the county’s new part-time residential inspector and code-enforcing officer.

 “We’re looking forward to a good working relationship with him,” Harris said.

She also discussed an amendment to the Standards for Telecommunications Antennas and Towers. A public hearing was held prior to the meeting; however, no comments were offered by the public. The amendment would “add different types of telecommunication equipment to our current [resolution] language.” Additionally, permit validity for this type of construction would be extended from 12 to 24 months, and applicants would be required to notify property owners ‑ whose land falls within 200 feet of their site ‑ by certified mail. A motion was made and unanimously approved to incorporate the amendment into the resolution language.

Harris also submitted a motion to call a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19 to rezone property located at 3214 Huntsville Highway. The property would be rezoned from A-1 Agricultural-Rural-Residential to I-1 General Industrial. The motion to call for a public hearing was approved.

Next, Jason Nix provided the Commission an update on Fayetteville Main Street. Nix said First Friday, which started in April and continued through September, has concluded for the year. Nix described First Friday as having had “a really good year,” adding the only setback the event faced was a single instance of rain. Nix said Main Street also hosted the Slawburger Festival this year, which, despite rain, drew a large crowd. Next year’s Slawburger Festival is slated for April, the exact date undecided. Upcoming Main Street events include Spirit of the Spirits, a Halloween-themed walking tour of downtown Fayetteville. Tickets for the event can be purchased on the Main Street website. The annual Host of Christmas Past, set for Nov. 12-13, is hosted by Fayetteville Main Street and the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau.

Nix said the Main Street director position remains vacant, but applications will be received for the remainder of the year.

During the new business segment of the meeting, Commissioner Glen Douglas introduced the issue of managing the situation at the Molino Fire Station, which regularly sustains flood damage and whose property is in dispute.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency Director Doug Campbell explained the situation by displaying photos of the property and the effects of the flooding. Fire Station 418 is frequently damaged or otherwise impacted by floodwater, a result of the geography surrounding the building. In years past, a ditch to the east of the station would be cleared out by the county, creating a buffer between the facility and the water. The present property owner, however, will no longer permit the county to do so, having partially filled in the ditch, Campbell said. Without a buffer, the Molino Fire Station has been subject to rot, mold, and other hazards, and, according to Campbell, sweeping mud and water out of the building is futile.

Potential solutions to this problem include the construction of a reverse terrace in front of the station – an idea which has already received bids ranging from $18,000 to $35,000 – and digging a ditch in the same location, an idea backed by the property owner. Complicating the solutions, however, is a lack of clarity regarding the exact location of the parcel’s property lines.

County attorney Ed Simms issued an opinion for performing a title search and taking legal action to establish an official boundary to the property. Simms, however, offered an alternative: condemnation.

“I’ve done one condemnation action in 20 years, and this County Commission usually does not do that, but if [the property owner] is right [about where the property line is], we’ve accomplished nothing.

“We get [the property] surveyed,” Simms said. “We file a lawsuit in Chancery Court or Circuit Court. Basically, we put up the money as to the value of the property we’re condemning, and we go ahead and take possession of that property, the only dispute being how much we owe this person for this property that we’re taking.”

Following Simms’s advice, Commissioner Douglas made a motion for the condemnation of the property. Before the motions was voted on, Simms recommended the issue be tabled until next month. The motion was withdrawn.

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