TEASER Courthouse

The Moore County Courts Facility building in Carthage.

Moore County has hired an engineering firm to study the potential impact on traffic if it closes a section of Dowd Road in downtown Carthage for a new courthouse.

Moore County commissioners on Tuesday morning unanimously approved a contract for the study. The courthouse design proposed by Moseley Architects would eliminate a section of Dowd Road between the traffic circle and N.C. 24-27 in the center of town and Saunders Boulevard.

Carthage town leaders expressed concerns about the potential for more traffic congestion during a joint meeting with the county commissioners last month. Under the recommended proposal, motorists traveling north on Dowd Road would need to make a left turn on Saunders Street and then turn right on Ray Street to reach the downtown traffic circle.

County Capital Projects Manager Rich Smith told the commissioners Tuesday morning this configuration was something that has been “proposed.”

“This study will provide valuable information … to use in order to base a final decision on,” Smith told the board. “As part of this contract, you’ll see some every extensive traffic patterns will be looked at, at seven different locations. The intersections that are going to be looked at are based on what the proposed traffic pattern could possibly be if there was a courthouse sitting in that section of Dowd Road and is closed.”

A schematic presented during the joint meeting with the Carthage board last month would double the size of the courthouse, allowing the building to house the district attorney’s office. The schematic also calls for a landscaped promenade and an underground sally port for transporting inmates.

County Commissioner Catherine Graham, a Carthage resident, said during that joint meeting last month that the county is sympathetic to the town’s concerns. County Manager Wayne Vest said during the same meeting that the county will not move forward with the plan presented on Thursday unless it can do so “in concert with the town.”

Smith said in response to a question from Commissioner Jerry Daeke Tuesday morning that the results of the traffic engineering study would first be presented to the Carthage Town Board, and then if there is agreement, it would be submitted to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The traffic study will cost the county an additional $25,410 under its contract with Mosley Architects as part of the design of the new courthouse.

The two boards ultimately decided to collect feedback from residents through a public forum, which Graham said could be held after a traffic impact analysis is conducted by the state Department of Transportation. Vest said architects will provide the town with clearly labeled schematics to share with residents.

The courthouse opened in 1979 to replace the old courts facility, which still sits in the middle of downtown Carthage. For the past few years, the county has been under increasing pressure from the state judicial system to replace or expand the current facility.

In other business:

* Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with a company to install its 911 VIPER radio equipment on a new cell tower on N.C. 705 between Robbins and Westmoore.

Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips the county has been using the water tank in Robbins for the last 20 years. He said this would be an “enhancement” in emergency communications in the northern part of the county since the cell tower is much higher.

* Commissioners unanimously awarded a $2 million contract to replace a major sewer interceptor line that runs through part of the Pinehurst No. 7 golf course off U.S. 15-501. Part of the line is in a creek bed. Vest told board that the line has deteriorated to the point that large amounts of stormwater have infiltrated the line. It carries sewer from the municipalities to the sewer treatment plant in Addor.

Funding will come from the sewer treatment plant enterprise fund.

* Commissioners approved two formal orders on their approval of a 166-lot subdivision in West End called Gretchen Pines and a kennel in Cameron. Both were unanimously approved following lengthy quasi-judicial hearings at their Aug. 20 meeting.

Related to the subdivision, commissioners approved a request for the state to abandon Gretchen Road, which runs from N.C. 73 to Carthage Road, which will become a private road with gates on both ends.

* In the time for commissioners’ comments at the end of the meeting, Louis Gregory said that he would not support any additional increase in the county property tax rate for the next three years unless there is some “catastrophic” event that impacted the entire county. He said the county had made clear that passage of a $123 million bond issue last year and the recent revaluation would result in a property tax increase.

Commissioners unanimously approved a 4.5-cent tax increase in June, raising the rate to 51 cents for each $100 of value, in part to fund the higher debt.

Vest said at the time and in his earlier budget presentation that the 51-cent rate would be sufficient to cover the county’s needs through the next four years until the next revaluation.

Gregory said in a prepared statement that the tax increase has affected many residents.

“Some are hurting more than others,” he said. “We need to take that into consideration. After all it is their taxpayer money that we are spending. I believe we can get by the next three years without asking anyone to pay anymore in taxes.”

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

(1) comment

Barbara Misiaszek

Re:Commissioner Gregory's comment that he would not support any further tax increases for at least the next three years please remember , not counting the new schools there are 18 other existing schools. Assuming a replacement cost of about, at least ,$33,000,000 each, this represents nearly $600,000,000 of County owned infrastructure. The County has allocated $1,500,000 in the current budget to maintain and update the existing schools. That is approximately 1/4 of 1 percent per year to accomplish that task. If you had a $200,000 home, that equates to approximately $550 per year to maintain and update that home. For a $300,000 home,that equates to about $750 per year. Is that realistic? On top of that there is a $37,000,000, or more, courthouse that needs to be built. Perhaps there are excesses in the current budget that will be siphoned off to maintain our schools in the future? Let's hope that the current budget is not so constructed. Therefore,another conclusion might be that certain services presently provided by County government will be cut to pay for future updates and maintenance. Or, maybe, we'll let the existing schools deteriorate and build several more new schools in the not too distant future? Promising no new taxes, where have I heard that before?

John Misiaszek

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