Commissioners postpone decisions on solar power plant, old hospital buildings
Abby Cavenaugh Editor
The Anson County Board of Commissioners postponed decisions on two major items of business Tuesday night — a request for conditional use zoning on Carver Street in Wadesboro for a proposed solar power plant and a decision on what to do with two early 1900s-era buildings located on the Anson Community Hospital site.
At the start of the commissioners' regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, County Manager Lawrence Gatewood asked that the conditional use zoning request and a proposed update to the Renewable Energy Ordinance be deferred until the next meeting so that the county planner could spend more time researching both items.
Several people from the Carver Street community were in attendance, and during the public addresses to the board portion of the meeting, asked that the commissioners remember their concerns about the safety of the solar power plant when ultimately making a decision.
At the commissioners' October meeting, County Attorney Scott Forbes was asked to look into options for the sale of the two brick buildings on the Anson Community Hospital site.
While the current hospital building will be demolished at the expense of Carolinas Healthcare System, the two early 20th-century buildings are still in question. Commission Chair Anna Baucom said last month she had been approached by someone who wished to purchase the buildings and renovate them.
Forbes reported that the county has three options — a sealed bid process, a notice/negotiated offer or a public auction. The commissioners would have the option to refuse any bid with the first option, and with the second option, an upset bid would be allowed. That means that if a commissioner had negotiated an offer on the property, a request for bids could be published in the newspaper and a time frame of 10 days would be allowed for another potential buyer to come up with an upset bid. With the second option, Forbes said, the county could set its own terms for the sale of the building. If the commissioners decided on the public auction option, it would require a set time, day and place for an auction to take place.
“I think what the board is going to have to do in order to sleep at night is to put conditions on the sale of the property,” Baucom said.
Tax collector Joe Dutton pointed out that if the county were to sell the buildings to a private buyer and “things went south,” the property would probably then be turned over to the town of Wadesboro, either as a liability or an asset.
Commissioner Jim Sims is in favor of demolishing the two buildings at the expense of Carolinas Healthcare System, which is what was first proposed before Baucom asked that the commissioners do all they can to save the buildings and restore them. “If the property is demolished, CMC (Carolinas Medical Center) would pay the full cost,” Sims said. “Let's just assume there's asbestos in there, which there probably is. We could get into a lot of money and a lot of red tape.”
There was some discussion about whether the land has been divided into the county's property and the healthcare system's. Gatewood said that a survey has been done, but he has not yet seen the final division lines.
“I think if we sell the property, it's a win-win,” Dutton said. “We would be able to add probably $300,000 to our tax revenue, and add to the town of Wadesboro's revenue as well. To tear them down without investigating would be foolhardy, in my opinion.”
Forbes stressed that the commissioners need to agree on their terms before advertising for any bids. “You have to get the terms right with the first bidder and then apply those terms to all other bidders,” he said. The commissioners will take up the issue again at their next meeting.
In other business at the November meeting:
-Baucom recognized many of the community leaders that have passed away in the past few months, including Jim Martin, Ted Teal, John Dunlap, Nancy Randall, Cline Pope and Dr. Fred Burney, to name a few.
-the commissioners unanimously approved a community transportation program resolution, which will allow Anson County Transportation to pursue a $293,060 grant, with the county providing $39,512.
-heard from James Cohen, senior elder at Empowering Word Ministry (formerly Greater St. Matthews), who reminded the board of the annual Christmas in November event, and invited them all to attend and support the event. -Sheriff Tommy Allen formally announced his planned retirement in December 2014. “I assure the board that there will not be any changes in the way I operate over the next year,” he said. He also thanked the commissioners for always being very supportive of him and his staff.
-Former Chief Deputy Mike Smith of Peachland announced his plans to run for sheriff in 2014. He has lived in Anson County for the past 32 years and has worked in law enforcement and served in the N.C. National Guard.
-Commissioner Ross Streater presented a check to fellow Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant for the annual Toys for Tots holiday campaign.
-the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to transfer ownership of modular units on the South Piedmont Community College campus to Anson County Schools.
-County Manager Gatewood reported that the Health Department has recently gone through its accreditation process and that the survey team was very complimentary of the county and of its plans for a new animal shelter.
-the commissioners unanimously agreed to co-fund the Santa float for the annual Wadesboro Christmas Parade on Dec. 5.
-Kenneth Spencer and Don Beck were appointed to the planning board.
-the commissioners unanimously requested that Gatewood stay on as county manager, and he accepted their request.
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