Board votes against rezoning request for housing project
By Tom Woerner
Dunn Daily Record
Angier officials said last week that work to demolish the current town hall and build a new one in its place will begin this summer.
The town is now accepting bids to tear town the existing town hall building on Broad Street and will replace it with a new structure. Work has already started demolishing an adjacent building once used by the Angier Fire Department.
Currently, many of the town’s offices are in the small, one-story and aging town hall facility. That includes the town manager’s, clerk’s, police and finance offices. In addition, the town’s business offices, where utility bills are paid and managed, are also in the facility.
“They are jammed up in that small building and we need this new space,” Mayor Bob Smith said.
The space that is used is showing its age.
“When the roof started falling in on our manager we decided to it was time,” Smith said.
The proposed facility will be two stories and will be a total of 21,400 square feet. In addition to the office space, the new building will contain a meeting space for town commissioners. Commissioners currently meet in the library building, one block west of the town hall building. That building will remain in place, according to Smith.
“We wanted to keep this as a meeting place in the interim period,” Smith said.
According to Town Manager Gerry Vincent, the proposed new building will cost approximately $10 million.
Vincent said town officials will spread out to different sites during the construction. Utility payments will be made at the old Ferrell Gas building located across the street from the current town hall at 58 S. Broad St.
The fate of the Angier Gourd Museum, which is also in the current board meeting room, has not been determined. The popular spot contains dozens of gourds that were once stored on the Johnson farm near the current Kennebec Baptist Church north of the Angier town limits. Marvin Johnson and his wife, Mary, started the gourd museum there in 1965.
The museum was moved to the town hall meeting room in the early 2000s in a project organized by former Mayor Wanda Gregory and the late former town Commissioner Joe Pleasant.
Bid paperwork for the town hall project says work should start in July of this year, with the construction process taking approximately one year to complete.
In other action Tuesday, Jan. 4, the board voted against a rezoning petition for a property it had annexed into town only minutes before. The board voted to annex a large 57.38 acre site near the intersection of Old Buies Creek Road and N.C. Highway 55 on the town’s southern edge. Developer Easley Properties LLC was proposing to build 162 houses on more than 57 acres at the site. The project called for a large pond at the site to remain in place. A 2-mile walking trail is also included in the plans, as well as curb and guttering throughout.
Speakers in the public forum, including local attorney Will Pope, who has an office near the site, expressed concerns about water run off from the project.
The majority of board members said they want to look at a new plan that would allow for large lots.
A former commissioner also called out a sitting board member for missing too many meetings. Commissioner Junior Price attended the meeting remotely because he was exposed to COVID over the weekend. Former Commissioner Mike Hill spoke in the public forum section of the meeting, calling out Price. Hill lost his November election to current Commissioner Jim Kasakavage.
He said Price has missed five meetings since June.
“The public has a right to see his face at public meetings,” Hill said. “I know we voted to allow remote access when I was on the board.”
The board members on hand voted unanimously to allow Price to participate virtually.
Price said he returned from a weekend trip when he learned he was exposed to people infected with the COVID virus and did not return to Angier for the meeting. The board unanimously voted to allow him to virtually participate in the meeting.
Smith said he suggested to Price he not attend the meeting.
“This was a special situation and I think Junior made the right decision,” Smith said.
“I did not come to Angier out of concern for my fellow board members and anyone in the public I might come in contact with,” Price said.
Because of the increasing number of COVID cases, Smith asked all in attendance to wear masks. The town supplied masks for those who did not have them.
Mr. Vincent said he closed town hall Monday when several employees called in with Covid cases. The manager did not say when town hall will reopen.