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Cumberland board to consider funding for Civil War history center


The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday is expected to consider whether to provide funding for the proposed North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

At the Sept. 8 agenda session, the commissioners considered a request from the history center foundation for a commitment of $7.5 million the board previously designated for the project through a resolution. That resolution of support expired on Dec. 31, 2020.

At the agenda session, commissioners voted 5-1 to approve the $7.5 million “contingent upon the city of Fayetteville funding and county legal having the document it needs.” The documents requested by commissioners referred to the state’s commitment to operating the history center and documentation of grant funding from the state.

The foundation submitted all of the requested documents to the county, including a resolution formally requesting the funding, a resolution stating the history center will be turned over to the state once completed, a letter from the Division of State History Museums confirming the history center will become a state museum, and an excerpt of the state budget showing the allocation of $59.6 million toward construction of the center.

A memo from County Manager Amy Cannon to the board says the county attorney has reviewed all of the documents.

However, in its latest round of voting regarding the history center funding, the Fayetteville City Council was deadlocked on whether to move forward with a decision on its funding commitment.

The council was split on a consensus motion at its Sept. 6 work session to put the funding issue on its Sept. 12 agenda. The item was not placed on the agenda. After the Sept. 6 work session, Councilwoman Brenda McNair said she intended to vote for the motion to move the funding matter forward. Instead, her vote was recorded as a “no’’ vote and resulted in the 5-5 tie. 

The City Council previously agreed to $7.5 million in funding for the project. But because the city agreed to provide land and Civil War-era buildings for the project, its proposed allocation has been reduced to $6.5 million.

Other business

The Board of Commissioners on Monday also is scheduled to hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the county’s sign ordinance.

The proposed changes are an effort for the county’s sign ordinance to adhere to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that “invalidated” a local ordinance that treated signs differently because of content. In the case of Reed v. the Town of Gilbert, Arizona, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that treating signs differently under local ordinances based on their content violated the First Amendment.

The draft document provided to the board states, “These changes to Article 13 are based on the need to make the county’s sign standards more user‐friendly and the need to comply with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on content‐neutral sign regulations in the Reed vs. Gilbert case.’’

Along with making the county’s sign standards “content neutral,’’ the proposed changes update and modernize the sign standards to make them easier to understand, follow and administer, according to the draft.

Other proposed changes limit where new outdoor advertising signs, such as billboards, are allowed, which are solely in areas near interstate highways.

The proposed standards also better tailor sign size and height to the level of traffic on the road the sign faces. The standards include new illustrations and clarifications regarding measurement to help them be more predictable, according to the draft.

The Planning Board recommended approval of the proposed changes at its June 21 meeting.

The board meets at 6:45 p.m. in Room 118 of the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse.

Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at jbrady@cityviewnc.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, funding