The Lumberton City Council met for a regular meeting on Monday, February 27 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Residents, Tom and Cheryl Backhouse spoke before the Council regarding an issue they have with debris, downed trees, and a culvert from a drainage replacement project that remain near their property in Stonegate. They are requesting assistance from the City to remove the items. The debris is located on another private property located close to the Backhouse residence.
Cheryl Backhouse claims that “It looks like a landfill.” The couple said they do appreciate the good job the City did on the drainage replacement project, but would like the debris cleared. Cheryl also says that in addition to the unsightly appearance, the remaining items have attracted unwanted wildlife to their residence.
Steve Clark, City Manager, said that once the area dries sufficiently, they will come in and remove the pipe. He also said he would be in contact with the Backhouses to discuss the issue with the debris.
Monique Sennet, Public Relations and Marketing Administrator with the Spindletop Center was in attendance to accept a Proclamation stating that March 2017 will be Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Awareness Month. Sennet stated that the center serves around 1,000 people in Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange counties. She said, “Individuals with IDD are just like ourselves and should be treated with dignity and respect.”
The Council continued with new business including discussion and possible action on some variance requests. The first one was a request by Billy Pierce to encroach upon his side building setback line by one foot to build a shop in his backyard. The Council approved the request.
A variance request was submitted by Bobby Bodle to allow Lots 7-12 and a portion of Lots 13-17 to drain into inlets placed behind those lots to collect storm water and route it to a proposed detention pond for the Cluster Housing Development in the Walton Creek subdivision. Bodle additionally requested a variance for Lots 13 and 19 to reduce the exterior side setback lines to 15 and 10 feet in order to obtain the minimum lot area required. The requests were approved.
John Boykin submitted a request to encroach upon the side building setback lines by 5 ½ feet to build a concrete driveway for homes located on Lots 1-49 of the new Copper Point subdivision. The request was approved.
The final request was submitted by Mike Hawkins. He requested to amend the preliminary plat of The Reserve subdivision and instead of installing a bridge to access the “green area” as was previously planned; he asked to install a low-water crossing. The Council had pre-approved the plan with the bridge and denied this request to change it to a low-water crossing.
The next items on the agenda were City Manager and Police Chief reports. Steve Clark reported that he met with Bill Clark Pest Control regarding mosquito spraying. He said they typically start around March 15 and may plan to start spraying this year on March 20. Clark said he has not received any calls about mosquitoes as of yet.
Lumberton Chief of Police Danny Sullins introduced two new officers to the Council; Matt Neal and Blake Rice. The officers began with the Lumberton Police Department earlier this year. Chief Sullins said “We’re blessed to have these fine young men working for us.”
City Attorney Curtis Soileau had a matter to discuss with the Council. He met with each attorney representing the two Homeowner Associations in River Birch Place subdivision. This meeting was in reference to the retention pond in Phase 1 that needs to be expanded because it is smaller than what was originally planned. John Abshire, with Abshire Building Group, has been given the direction to fix the issue with the pond prior to receiving his requested permits to continue working on new development within the subdivision.
Since Phase 1 HOA owns the area of the playground and pond, he must get permission from them to access the area to make the necessary repairs. Soileau says the two attorneys have been working to come up with an agreement for both HOAs for two months, without success. He explained that Phase 1 HOA has added some items to the agreement that are unrelated to the repair of the retention pond.
Soileau emphasized that the City is interested in protecting the residents of River Birch. “We would not allow the City to be leverage for one party or the other,” he says.
Abshire applied for a Performance Bond which could potentially allow the City to step in and hire a contractor to do the repairs if the two parties cannot reach an agreement. Because of the Performance Bond, the City retains the option to issue permits for development. Although, Soileau said they prefer that the parties reach an agreement. He suggested that both sides attend the next meeting and discuss the issues.