Buggy Fest 2018

(Photograph by Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot)

The Carthage Buggy Festival is set to return after being disrupted last year by the coronavirus pandemic.

First held in 1989, the annual festival celebrates the Tyson and Jones Buggy Factory, a prominent carriage manufacturer that operated in Carthage in the late-1800s. The outdoor event typically brings as many as 20,000 people to downtown Carthage.

The festival had been overseen in recent years by Dorothy Dutton, the former town clerk who in March accepted a new job in Southport. Kim Gibson, a customer service specialist for Carthage, is planning this year’s event.

Addressing town commissioners on Monday, Gibson said the festival will be somewhat scaled down from past celebrations. The beer garden introduced during the 2019 event will not return this year, with Gibson citing a lack of interest among area breweries and vineyards.

“I sent out invitations three different times to local wineries and got no response back,” she said. “I know it was something that was pretty popular with visitors, so maybe next year we can bring that back.”

The Quicksilver Cloggers, a dance troupe that has been a longtime staple of the festival’s live entertainment lineup, will not be performing. Gibson said she has approached a different dance group to fill the cloggers’ slot.

Another feature dropped from this year’s festival is the crowning of a king and queen from Peak Resources Pinelake, a local nursing home. Because most of the facility’s residents are elderly and especially vulnerable to COVID-19, Gibson felt that proceeding with the ceremony was “asking for trouble.”

“Everything else is traditionally like it usually is,” she said of the festival, which will take place on May 8.

New Apartment Community Planned

During Monday's meeting, the cmmissioners approved a zoning request that clears the way for nearly 80 multi-family apartments at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and Union Church Road.

The request was submitted by Greenway Residential Development, a Charlotte company that plans to build an apartment community on the 13-acre property. Mark Richardson, assistant vice president of Greenway, said the company was attracted to the site because of its proximity to Food Lion and Walgreens.

“There’s a huge need for apartment rentals in Moore County and in Carthage,” Richardson told the commissioners. “Our market study shows there’s a need for at least 350 household rentals, and we’re only doing 78.”

Formed in 2009, Greenway operates 11 properties across North Carolina. Its nearest development is the Autumn Oaks community in Sanford.

Chris Tingler of the Cline Design architecture firm said some of the amenities planned for the Carthage development include a playground, clubhouse and fitness center. The community is being called Hawthorn Hills.

Kathy Liles, planning director for the town, said Greenway had sought to have the site placed under a conditional zoning district in order to construct taller and wider buildings than allowed by the previous zoning. No one in the audience spoke during a public hearing for the company’s request, which was unanimously approved by the commissioners.

Richardson did not give a timeline for the development’s construction, and it was not immediately clear how much the apartments will cost to rent. Prices at Autumn Oaks range from $750 to $852 a month, according to online listings.

In other business on Monday, the commissioners:

• Approved a preliminary plat for the third phase of development of the Forest Ridge subdivision. Developer David Chapman plans to build 30 additional homes in the community, according to town planner Kathy Liles.

• Scheduled public hearings to discuss a proposed amendment to the special use permit for Little River and a proposed residential development between South McNeill Street and Pinehurst Avenue. Both hearings will be held during the board’s meeting on May 17.

• Met in closed session to discuss pending litigation related to a property that was demolished as part of a code enforcement action.

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