GARLAND — Public hearings will be held next month on two issues, possible Sunday alcohol sales and a years-running topic regarding the Garland Fire Department’s possible acquisition of land for a new station. Both matters were discussed this week and will be put to the public in the near future before a town board vote.
At the Garland Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week, fire chief Thomas Norris again asked for the town’s consideration of a department-requested site for a new fire station. He told the board that he had measured land at the town’s industrial park and stated the plans for the new building could be accommodated at the site.
“They have definitely been in the process of trying to acquire the land for quite some time,” said town clerk Pam Cashwell. “They are very gung-ho about it.”
Norris even asked if he could bring a check with him the next time the board met.
Last month, Norris proposed to purchase a parcel of land at the Garland Industrial Park for $20,000. The park, located in a residential area off of N.C. 411 toward Roseboro, was purchased by the town more than a decade ago and Garland mayor Winifred Murphy said the board “wants to be careful” about locating a fire station there because of the area’s residential status.
Norris has made similar proposals regarding the relocation of the Garland Volunteer Fire Department station to the industrial park property in recent years, but the matter, ongoing since the Garland Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated several years back, has been delayed in favor of further negotiations.
Upon its incorporation, the town offered a piece of its property as the site for a new fire station. The tract is located along West Second Street (N.C. 411), in a large strip of land designated as the town’s Industrial Park. Fire officials did not like the way the land was divided up, and wanted a different section. Norris has told the town board a separate tract would offer better access to and from main roadways.
Currently, Norris has said, traffic can be crowded in the initial response to calls, with the fire truck forced to dodge parked vehicles around the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church and out toward the highway. Norris said a tract with direct access to N.C. 411 would prove the best option. Norris has said the fire department wants easy access, but the town did not want a new site for the fire station to come at the expense of the entire piece of industrial park property.
The fire chief said a station with four bigger bays would be necessary, because the trucks themselves are growing in size. At last month’s meeting, Murphy requested some definite plans and numbers, including measurements, proposed building size and acreage of land needed. Murphy said the town wanted to work with the department, but also wanted to make an informed decision.
The board’s attorney Joel Starling said the land would have to be surveyed before a public hearing is held on the proposal. A public hearing would be necessary as the land is owned by the town. The site is 1.6 acres and the $20,000 proposal is still currently on the table. The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for the town’s Sept. 11 meeting, however is pending the land survey.
Also picked up from last month’s meeting, the board discussed the possible referendum to allow beer and unfortified wine sales in town on Sunday. Currently, the town offers such sales from Monday through Saturday.
Last month, the board unanimously voted to direct Starling to begin proceedings to have such a referendum, a special vote that must be held no earlier than 60 days and no later than 120 days after the request is made to put it on the ballot. However, Starling told commissioners this week that holding a special vote was not necessary.
“Per our attorney’s research, we do not have to have a referendum if it only concerns sales on Sunday,” said Cashwell. “We could make a motion to repeal the previous ordinance banning Sunday sales of beer and unfortified wine.”
Instead of voting to that effect, the board voted to hold a public hearing to gauge public opinion before going forward in any direction. That hearing will be held at the board’s Sept. 11 meeting.
“This was brought up over 10 years ago and nothing was ever done, and this is something commissioners wanted to try again,” Murphy has said. “I’m sure that it will be a controversial issue, but it was brought up in terms of revenue and the board decided we should offer (the option) and let the residents decide.”
In other business, it was announced that the next N.C. STEP (Small Towns Economic Prosperity) meeting for the town of Garland will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the Garland Baptist Church, 55 W. Second St., Garland.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.