On Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners talked about a single ordinance for the development of property along Lake James.
This was one of the items discussed during the regular September meeting of the commissioners held at the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center.
This new ordinance would bring together the existing rules for property development around the lake that were enacted over the years. It would combine the previous three Lake James ordinances into a single document, said Ron Harmon, deputy manager for community development.
The unified ordinance would help property owners, real estate agents and county staff better understand what rules affect the lots on the lake.
Harmon presented the commissioners with a draft of this ordinance. However, the commissioners were not able to take action on it because a public hearing must be held first. That hearing will take place at the regular October meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 12 at Historic Carson House.
In addition, the commissioners also talked about a possible firearms safety ordinance. In August, the commissioners directed the county Planning Board to investigate the issue of persons discharging their firearms in close proximity to other residences. The Planning Board wanted to look into increasing instances of gunfire in subdivisions and densely populated residential areas, namely where homes are close together. Specifically the Planning Board members wanted to look at other counties and municipalities, seeing what kind of distances they list as being too close for gunfire within residential areas.
“What the Planning Board would like to address is the safety aspect in the event of a stray bullet, and the nuisance aspect of loud gunfire within densely populated communities,” said Harmon to the commissioners in a memo. “The Planning Board has put forth a suggestion that prohibits the discharge of a firearm within 150 feet of a residence unless that residence is owned, etc. by the person discharging the firearm.”
After a discussion, the commissioners said they wanted to table this firearms ordinance and gather more information about whether it is needed in McDowell County before taking action.
“When we started this, we heard there was a petition signed by over 300 people and I would like to see that petition,” said Commissioner Lynn Greene.
If there are problems, some of them might be resolved once the public shooting range for McDowell is finally open.
The commissioners heard an update about the shooting range on county-owned land along Ashworth Road.
The notice to proceed for the public shooting range was issued for Tuesday, Sept. 8. The contractor will be onsite within days to get that project moving. The total construction schedule for the shooting range is around 11 months. County staff members will work with the commissioners to schedule a ground-breaking ceremony within the next several weeks, said County Manager Ashley Wooten.
In other business, the McDowell County Commissioners:
• Heard an update about COVID-19 in McDowell from Emergency Services Director William Kehler.
• Heard an update on the EMS building projects. Both the new Emergency Services headquarters and Station Four projects are under construction. Station Four, located on U.S. 221 north of Marion, is on schedule to be complete after the first of the year. The new headquarters, south of Marion, is scheduled to be complete in early 2022.
• Heard an update from Wooten about the courthouse renovation project. It is scheduled to be finished by the middle of December. The last portions to be renovated inside the building are in the lower level. Restrooms for men and women that are accessible for the disabled have been installed. Last week, the public defender and staff moved into the new space that was formerly the lower level of the parking deck. One of the final portions of the project will be the resurfacing of the parking deck levels. County staff members are preparing a count of the parking spaces that will exist at the end of the project.
• Agreed to extend the lease for office space on West Court Street. County staff asked the lease be extended to provide space for the Probation/Parole office.
• Approved a series of administrative items and tax matters.
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