Aberdeen town leaders met for an abbreviated meeting on Monday, primarily to satisfy legal requirements related to an advertised public hearing.
Like nearly all other group activities, municipal government meetings are being truncated or postponed to help minimize large gatherings during the COVID-19 threat.
In advance of the Monday’s session, Town Manager Paul Sabiston announced that all discussion on a conditional zoning request for a proposed new subdivision off N.C. 5, near the new Aberdeen Elementary school campus, would be continued to next month’s meeting on April 27.
The brief business meeting was also live-streamed on the town’s Facebook page for interested citizens.
“We are trying to get through this and stay safe while doing it,” said Aberdeen Mayor Robbie Farrell, complimenting the town’s staff for the steps they’ve taken to continue operations. “We are all in this together.”
Sabiston reported on town-led initiatives to help minimize the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. This includes closing public access to town buildings while encouraging more residents to use online and telephone services, and the cancellation of recreation programs. The town’s parks and greenway trails remain open but signs have been posted at the playgrounds to discourage use.
Town Commissioner Teressa Beavers also commended Sabiston and the staff for doing a “great job to keep us informed.”
Farrell said he has fielded some inquiries from residents curious why the town has not ordered businesses to close.
“We are mandated by the state and we have to listen to what they say. We can’t just go around unilaterally telling people to close,” he said.
State-issued closures, as of this Wednesday at 5 p.m., now include hair salons, barbershops, gyms, and movie theaters, in addition to restaurants and bars restricted to take-out services only.
Farrell and Sabiston have also collaborated on appropriate wording for an emergency declaration by the town, should the time comes such action is necessary.
“We are trying to hold off on that until needed. And so far, so good,” Sabiston said.
“As for the meeting tonight, we met with department heads last week. Not everyone is happy with the result, this is a middle ground. We decided to have the meeting to get to the pint and get out, that is the right decision,” Sabiston said. “I have no qualms about that.”
But if things are the same or worse come April and May, he noted there will be a different decision process required. The town of Aberdeen, like other municipalities in Moore County, is quickly moving into the annual budget season. State law requires a public hearing prior to its adoption, which is typically in early June.
“We are trying to investigate the best vehicle to move forward,” Sabiston said.
In other action on Monday, the Aberdeen Town Board:
Approved the updated Wellhead Protection Plan, a voluntary five-year planning document intended to assist Aberdeen in protecting its water supply from contamination and educate citizens about their role in minimizing potential sources of contamination. The updated plan is posted on the town’s website at townofAberdeen.net
Approved the installation of “No Trucks” signs throughout the Colonial Heights community. Large commercial trucks have frequently used residential streets in the area between N.C. 5 and U.S. 1 as a cut-thru. Aberdeen Police Chief Carl Colasacco is working with NC-DOT to ensure similar signs are installed on state-owned roads in the vicinity.