LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council on Wednesday adopted an ordinance that allows organized shelters to house up to 45 people for a maximum period of 90 days and to offer counseling services.
The action came during a combined Policy and regular monthly meeting, meaning the council will not meet on Monday. Monday is a holiday for Columbus Day.
According to Brandon Love, director of Planning and Inspections, the proposal to amend the ordinance was presented to the City Council in August after the Planning Board fielded a request from Lumberton Christian Care Center, a nonprofit that provides people with emergency housing and wants to expand its services.
The Christian Care Center’s facility on First Street currently provides a soup kitchen that feeds up to 90 people a day, five times a week, but can only sleep 10 people for a period of no more than three days.
The nonprofit plans to use a $1.1 million grant to build a 8,500-square-foot building at the corner of Second and Walnut streets that would replace the building on First Street that is dilapidated. The plan is drawing opposition from people who believe the shelter would stymie efforts to revitalize downtown Lumberton.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting on Wednesday, Jim Parker, a Lumberton resident, said the council should consider requiring “a 1,000-foot perimeter to schools, playgrounds, day cares and other facilities that serve children” for such a shelter. The proposed location is near the library and the Exploration Station, a children’s museum.
“We need to balance our need to serve the homeless with the safety of our children, so I propose that we also look out for our children,” Parker said. “Physical distance is the easiest, simplest, safest factor to build into this ordinance.”
Renie Mills, president of the board of directors for Lumberton Christian Care Center, said the shelter would not pose a threat to children or to the community.
“We do not bring people off the streets that are homeless,” Mills said. “… The referrals are made through the Police Department. We do not admit felons or sex offenders or deviants of society.”
Mills said the nonprofit’s goal is to assist people in crisis.
“There are no people loitering around the center,” she said. “The people that come to our center are good people.”
The council rescheduled a public hearing for a conditional-use permit application by the Lumberton Christian Care Center for Oct. 23. It had been scheduled for Wednesday but was not properly advertised, so it had to be delayed.
In other action, the council:
— Entered into an agreement with DataMax Interstate Credit Collections for debt collection.
— Reduced the speed limit on Roslyn Drive from 35 to 25 mph.
— Accepted $36,106 from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to fund training, equipment and overtime for the Lumberton Police Department.
— Accepted $227,724 in grant money from the COPS Hiring Recovery program for hiring new officers.
— Renewed a five-year contract with Synagro Central for sludge removal and disposal.
— Agreed to purchase a spare pump for $7,907 to be placed at the East Robeson lift station.
— Authorized Public Works to pipe an existing road ditch at Lot 6 on Londonderry Drive for $5,419.76.
— Authorized Public Works to install reinforced concrete piping for $900.72 in a road ditch at Mount Haven Church at 3733 W. Fifth St.
— Agreed to purchase a remote control for $14,783 for the city’s boom truck. The truck is used to cool pumps at the wastewater treatment plant.
— Awarded Strickland Construction a $13,670 contract for renovation work of the building at 110 N. Chestnut St.
— Approved a service agreement with Midlands GIS solutions for $17,500 for the set up of an initial website and iPad applications followed by a $4,800 yearly support fee. The company will be installing an online mapping system for the city.
— Adopted an ordinance that will move property on the northwest side of Kenny Biggs Road, on the east and west sides of Sinclair Street and on the west side of Cotton Mill Canal, from District 6 to District 7.
Properties on the southwest side of Carthage Road, the west side of Water Street, the north side of West Fifth Street, the northeast side of the Lumber River and the southeast side of Old Goat Road and Riverside Boulevard will be moved from District 7 to District 6.
— Accepted two property lots on McLeod Road that each have a tax value of $25,000 from Danny Martin. The city will pay Martin’s 2013 county property taxes in the amount of $430.
— Approved tax releases in the amount of $2,192.51
— Granted the Robeson County Board of Election the use of Pine Street for overflow parking.
— Authorized Travis Branch, director of MIS, to dispose of IT property surplus.
— Accepted a gift of 140.7 acres of land with a tax value of $371,500 from B.G. French.
— Approved $5,775 in discretionary spending for multiple causes, including donations to the Boys and Girls Club and school programs.
— Designated $5,000 from Mayor Raymond Pennington’s discretionary fund to the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce for the Lumberton Christmas Parade.