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Cumberland commissioners affirm pledge of $7.5 million for Civil War center

Allocation made contingent on city of Fayetteville’s equal contribution


The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted 5-2 to recommit $7.5 million for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

Commissioner Jeannette Council made the motion to allocate the money with the provision that the county’s portion be used for construction and contingent on the city of Fayetteville standing by its commitment of an equal amount. Commissioner Larry Lancaster seconded the motion.

Chairman Glenn Adams and Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Michael Boose joined Council and Lancaster in favor of the motion. Commissioners Charles Evans and Toni Stewart voted against it.

At a Sept. 8 meeting, the commissioners considered a request from organizers of the Civil War history center for a commitment of $7.5 million that they had previously pledged. That resolution expired on Dec. 31, 2020, according to County Manager Amy Cannon.

The board voted 5-1 on Sept. 8 to approve the allocation contingent on the city funding and the county legal department having certain documents.

Cannon told the commissioners Monday that all the documents they requested were in the agenda packet. They include:

  • A resolution stating the history center foundation’s intent to give the center to the state once it is completed.
  • A letter from the director of the N.C. Division of State History Museums confirming that the Civil War center would become a state museum, replacing the Museum of the Cape Fear.
  • Documentation showing the state budget includes an allocation of $59.6 million for the center.
  • A copy of the contract with the State Office of Budget and Management confirming the funding.

Before Monday’s vote, Cannon assured the commissioners that the museum will be given to the state and recommended that they consider the funding commitment. Commissioner Evans asked Cannon whether there is a memorandum of understanding that would require the foundation to turn over the museum to the state; Cannon said no.

“We all know resolutions can be broken,” Evans said.

Boose agreed with Adams that the county’s portion of the funding should be used for “brick and mortar” but said the county should not make the allocation contingent on what the city does.

“Either we support it or not, but don’t hinge it on what Fayetteville will do,” Boose said.

After the vote, Cannon told CityView that the county money has not been budgeted yet and would require the commissioners to adopt a budget ordinance. The money is in the county’s capital investment fund, she said.

In other action Monday, the board adopted an amendment to the county sign ordinance. No one signed up for a public hearing on the issue.

Rawls Howard, the county planning and inspections director, said the proposed changes are an effort to adhere to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a local ordinance that treated signs differently based on content, saying such rules violate the First Amendment.

Howard called it a “watershed” case that changed sign ordinance violations from criminal to civil enforcement.

Along with making the county’s sign standards “content neutral,” the changes update them to make them easier to understand and administer, Howard said.

Other changes limit where new billboards are allowed, which is solely in areas near interstate highways.

Other actions included:

  • Naming a new road constructed by the state Firewood Lane, which connects properties severed as a result of the construction of Interstate 295 Bypass.
  • Held a public hearing on whether the Sheriff’s Office should apply for a federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The application would be made jointly with the Fayetteville Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office and Police Department each would get $106,860. No one spoke at the hearing.
  • Held a public hearing on a performance report on the Community Development Program. Dee Taylor, director of the agency, told the commissioners that the report is available for public review through Sept. 19.
Cumberland County, Fayetteville, Civil War history center