The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday remained divided on whether the county should follow the city’s lead in clearing homeless shelters and tents from county property.
County Attorney Rick Moorefield presented two options to the board: the first amended the county’s current parking laws to prohibit long-term and overnight parking on county property. The second option bans camping and campsites or personal property caches on county property.
The two proposals passed on a 5-2 vote at a November board meeting. Since the proposed ordinances did not pass unanimously the first time, county policy required a second reading at Monday’s meeting.
However, at Monday’s meeting, Vice Chairman Glenn Adams offered a motion to only adopt the parking amendment. The motion passed on a 4-2 vote. Voting in favor of the parking amendment were Commissioners Jeannette Council, Michael Boose, Jimmy Keefe and Adams. Voting against the parking amendment were Commissioner Veronica Jones and Chairwoman Toni Stewart. Commissioner Marshall Faircloth was absent.
Boose then made the motion to adopt the ban on camping on county-owned property. That motion also passed on a 4-2 vote with Stewart and Jones voting against the motion.
Prior to the vote, Moorefield told commissioners that enforcement would be complaint-driven, and people camping or parking on county property overnight will be given a notice of trespassing.
The board also held a public hearing on two economic development actions. However, no one spoke in favor or against either proposal.
The first involved a request for the county to match state money to establish jobs in local minority-owned businesses, the second centered on a six-year incentive program for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company on Ramsey Street. Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp., made both presentations.
The county attorney did not make a recommendation on the first request. He stated in a memo to the board, “If the Board of Commissioners decides to move forward with the $1.25 million transfer to FCEDC, a budgetary appropriation will be required.’’
The state of North Carolina has approved $2.5 million, which requires an equal match. Currently, Cumberland County and the city of Fayetteville are discussing providing up to $1.25 million each ($2.5 million total), according to background information provided to the board.
Van Geons said the funds would be invested in 10 small minority-owned businesses to create 100 jobs within five years. Van Geons had not prepared a contract, but – according to agenda documents – agreed the contract shall contain the following essential terms and conditions:
Adams questioned the wording in the penalty clause should the program not produce the number of jobs promised and contended that the county would be paying itself. “It makes no sense to me. It’s my money already,” he said.
Keefe said this item had been discussed by the board for several months and it was not fully resolved between the FCEDC and the county’s legal office. “It needed to be worked out before it came to the board,” Keefe said.
However, Keefe made the motion to approve the request. Van Geons told the board that the state match would expire by the end of the year. The motion failed on a 4-2 vote. Stewart, Jones, Council and Adams voted against the motion. Boose and Keefe voted in favor.
The second proposal by the FCEDC involved an incentive program for Goodyear, which had a similar agreement with the state after investing $120 million in upgrades.
The amounts of the incentive payments total $2,516,850. Annual amounts over the next six years starting in 2023 are: $179,775; $239,700; $299,625; $359,550; $419,475; and $479,400.The number of direct jobs to be maintained during the term of the incentive is 1,789.
The essential terms of the agreement are:
The county attorney did not have a recommendation on the proposal; however, the commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the incentive program.
Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.