County Closes Out River Bend Bridge Project
The saga of storm-damaged Autumn Drive came to an end Tuesday when the Moore County Board of Commissioners voted to close out the federal grant project solving the River Bend dilemma.
A public hearing was called to discuss the closeout, but no one signed up to speak for or against the issue. The hearing is required by law.
County Planning Director Debra Ensminger explained that closeout is the term used to describe successful completion of such Community Development Block Grant projects.
Autumn Drive is the only access residents of the private River Bend subdivision have between their homes and public roads. River Bend, located near Vass, is largely made up of manufactured homes.
By the time Hurricane Hanna reached Moore County in September 2008, the hurricane had turned into a tropical storm, but it brought torrential rains, delivering about six inches within a few hours.
The result was a wash-out of the culvert and bridge on Autumn Drive, leaving residents stranded.
County and state officials made emergency repairs by providing a temporary span for the small road. The span was not wide enough to accommodate larger vehicles, such as ambulances and firetrucks.
But county and state agencies were prohibited from using public funds to make permanent repairs because the road is privately owned. Several measures were tried, but all failed because of legal obstacles.
The River Bend Homeowners’ Association raised sufficient funds to improve the road on a temporary basis until permanent repairs could be made.
Finally, the county’s Department of Planning and Community Development succeeded by applying for an Urgent Needs Community Development Block Grant. CDBG funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are distributed by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
In 2009, the county was awarded a $600,000 grant to cover a permanent solution to the problem. The solution was an upgrade of Autumn Drive, now built to state standards.
An engineering firm was secured to design the upgrade, and a construction contract was awarded. Work was delayed, however, because of easement issues, which were not resolved until last year.
With the project now complete, the road will be turned over to the N.C. Department of Transportation for future maintenance.
The River Bend project was one of four public hearings called for the Tuesday night meeting.
The board gave unanimous approval to a zoning map amendment requested by Von Allen, owner of a 3.5-acre tract near Vass, for a change from Residential Agricultural 20 to Highway Commercial. The tract is located near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Savannah Lane.
Robert Farrell, a staff planner, said the owner wants the zoning change to make the property more marketable for business usage.
The commissioners discussed some of the issues raised by the Planning Board during its consideration of the request late last year. Farrell said that an access concern was among the issues discussed by the planning panel.
The vote to recommend the change was not unanimous by the Planning Board with one of the nine members dissenting.
A public hearing was held on the zoning change, but again no one spoke in opposition. Nor was opposition expressed during the other two hearings.
The subject of one hearing was closeout of another Community Development Block Grant project, this one for a capacity building program administered on a partnership basis with the Northern Moore Family Resource Center.
The program enabled establishment of an individual development account program designed to help eligible low income people to assume home ownership by acquiring skills needed to understand such things as credit and mortgage responsibilities.
The grant was for $75,000 with both the county and the center adding $15,000 as matching local funds.
The closeout received unanimous approval by the board.
After the other hearing, the board also voted unanimously to approve an application by Moore County Transportation Services for about $500,000 in grant funds from the Public Transportation Division of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The grant includes $386,850 for capital needs and $191,637 for administrative costs. The local match of $67,431 will be met with user fees.
The board also tabled action on membership in the Land-Use Plan Steering Committee until Chairman Larry Caddell can be present. (Caddell was absent because of illness in his family.)
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