County will again consider pipeline’s permit request

By: By Bob Shiles -

LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday will again hold a public hearing and consider a request for a conditional-use permit that would allow for the placement of monitoring station and a 350-foot-tall microwave cell tower near Pembroke as part of the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The commissioners balked at the approval at their July meeting.

Approval of the permit is needed for the monitoring station and cell tower to be constructed beside N.C. 710, on 2.6 acres of a 17.608-acre tract owned by Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. The monitoring station and cell tower are needed if pipeline construction is to continue.

The permit request is being made by Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, a partnership consisting of subsidiaries of Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company. As proposed, the utilities station would deliver natural gas to Piedmont Natural Gas, and meter and regulate the flow. The cell tower would monitor control, security and safety of the overall pipeline.

The commissioners on July 17 delayed action on the permit after a public hearing on the request turned into debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the pipeline itself, rather than discussion of specific issues surrounding the monitoring station and cell tower. Although they had previously passed a resolution supporting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, after the Rev. Mac Legerton argued that there has not been enough public input during the pipeline’s planning process, all seven commissioners present at the meeting voted to delay action on the permit until public hearings are held in Robeson County.

None of those public hearings have been held.

Commissioner David Edge, who missed the July 17 meeting, said the day after the vote that his fellow board members were wrong to delay acting on the permit request. He said they voted for the delay because of a longstanding gentleman’s agreement that they vote with the commissioner who represents the district in which a proposed project would be located. In the case of the pipeline, it is located in Noah Woods’ district and it was Woods who made the motion to delay.

In other business, the commissioners on Monday will:

— Hear a presentation from Marion Thompson concerning the Robeson County Arts Council.

— Get an update from Dr. David Brooks concerning the upcoming countywide Rabies Clinic being sponsored by the Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association. The clinic will be held Aug. 21 to Aug. 25 at the county’s 33 local fire departments.

— Recognize the county Finance Department for qualifying for the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, the highest form of recognition in government accounting and financial reporting.

— Consider an agreement regarding economic incentives for Prestage Foods Inc.

— Hold a public hearing and consider a conditional-use permit request from Eugene Locklear that would allow for the establishment of a towing, wrecker service and vehicle storage area on 4.9 acres in a Residential Agricultural District of Philadelphus.

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.