Topics
Publishers
Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
Rhino Times - 2017-11-9
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-11-09 00:00:00
Page 1 of 4
  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 1

    Vol. V No. 45 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, November 9, 2017 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION RESULTS Scott D. Yost Commissioners To Choose Alan Branson Chairman plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 2

    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer by John Hammer Tuesday night, Nov. 7, Greensboro took a turn to the left, but not as sharp a turn as it appeared might happen in the primary when 38 candidates filed to run, including some of the most radical candidates Greensboro has ever seen in a City Council election. The newly elected City Council has no Republicans and is made up of eight women and one man, and, interestingly, not a single white male. The lone male on the City Council is District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who is black. It is certainly the first time Greensboro has not had a single white male on the City Council, and Greensboro may be the first major city in North Carolina not to have a white male on the City Council. Perhaps we’re out in front of everyone else. One consideration when looking at the outcome is that Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne People Vote, Council Shifts Johnson and City Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Sharon Hightower, Goldie Wells, Justin Outling and Nancy Hoffmann didn’t face a serious challenge in their reelections. Hoffmann and Vaughan had the closest races and they both won with 67 percent of the vote, which is considered a landslide. So seven of nine members of the City Council were elected by large margins, indicating that the voters are very satisfied with them. But then the two who lost – At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber, who lost to Michelle Kennedy, and District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who lost to Tammi Thurm – were the two most conservative members of the City Council. Maybe it’s significant that they were men running against women. Seven of the 18 candidates running on Tuesday were men. One of the nine winners is a man. Eleven of the 18 candidates were women and eight of the 11 were elected. At least in this election, the odds of winning were much better for women. In the past two years there have been a number of 8-to-1 votes where Wilkins was the one vote. So it might seem that there won’t be much difference if those votes are now 9-0. But what Wilkins did was try to pull the council to the right. The City Council is a collegial group and likes to reach consensus. Many times Wilkins would get some concessions, but not enough for him to change his vote. Being replaced by Thurm means that pressure to move right won’t be there and there won’t be anyone on the City Council presenting a more conservative point of view. But it also appears that Wilkins didn’t necessarily lose because of his political views but because he was out-campaigned. In a district race, going door to door can be extremely effective. Personal relationships usually trump politics, and if one candidate has stood on a person’s doorstep and asked them what they would like to see the city do, and the other is simply a face they have seen on TV, usually the personal touch wins. But whether it was politics or campaigning, the result is that a conservative Republican on the City Council has been replaced with a liberal Democrat. Thurm was the only candidate who received a perfect score on the platform presented by Democracy Greensboro, which is as far left as any platform ever presented in a City Council race. Barber’s loss is in many ways more troubling. Barber is a Democrat and most often voted with the Democratic majority on the City Council. One difference between Barber and Wilkins is that Barber would get some concessions from his fellow councilmembers and then vote for the motion, even if it wasn’t what he wanted, while Wilkins in a similar situation would cast that one no vote. It represented a difference of opinion in how to get things done. Barber’s philosophy was that if he voted with his fellow city councilmembers for something he wasn’t 100 percent in favor of, he was more likely to get them to vote with him when they were on the fence. But so much of what Barber did on the City Council was behind the scenes, didn’t get much publicity and will be hard to replace. He was the councilmember that others went to when they were trying to put together five votes to pass a motion. Barber was also the go-to guy for local businesses when they had needed help working with city government. Businesses in Greensboro need someone who can cut through the red tape and move them up the ladder to the department head or city manager level where reasonable accommodations can be made. There are a lot of negotiations that go on behind the scenes that nobody knows about other than (continued on page 15) RHINO TIMES BUSINESS AND SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 3

    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 5 BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TO CHOOSE ALAN BRANSON CHAIR AND JUSTIN CONRAD FOR VICE BY SCOTT D. YOST 7 TWO NEW FACES ON NINE-MEMBER CITY COUNCIL BY JOHN HAMMER 8 HIGH POINT STADIUM SUPPORTERS COUNTER JEDI MIND GAME WITH LITTLE RED HEN BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 FLYING ROCKS AND WATER CONCERNS TIP SCALES AGAINST PLEASANT GARDEN QUARRY REZONING BY SCOTT D. YOST 13 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 25 ASK CAROLYN BY CAROLYN WOODRUFF 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 12 SUDOKU 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 18 PUZZLE ANSWERS 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 SOUND OF THE BEEP 28 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Cover: Mayor Nancy Vaughan and her daughter Catherine at the Old Guilford County Court House on Tuesday night watching the election returns. Photo by John Hammer. More photos page 48 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultant DONNA GOODWIN contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD 216 West Market Street, Greensboro NC 27401 P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170 (336) 763-2585 fax | sales@rhinotimes.com | www.rhinotimes.com

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 4

    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer It wouldn’t be election day without a crisis. Early Tuesday afternoon, due to problems at the substation, two polling places – G04 at Genesis Baptist Church and G05 at Peeler Recreation Center – lost power for the rest of the day. Guilford County Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said that the polling places never closed because the voting machines can operate on battery power for several hours, and during the day it was light enough to work. Generators were rushed over to the precincts as darkness fell and, according to Collicutt, the poll workers were operating with the flashlights in their smart phones until the generators got going. They also GOOD brought in outdoor work lights to light up the parking lot. 336-288-6643 HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS Call today and we’re on our way! Collicutt said he wanted to have the outdoor lights so that people would know the polls were open when, not just the polling place, but everything in the area was dark. Collicutt said that although some people may have thought the polling place was not open, they had one voter come in who said he wasn’t planning on voting but, with his electricity off, he didn’t have anything better to do. It’s interesting, for the first time News & Record Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson and I could remember, we endorsed almost exactly the same candidates in the City Council election. The only difference was in District 2 where the News & Record endorsed District BETTER 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells and the Rhino Times endorsed former District 2 Councilmember Jim Kee. $ 1099 BETTER $ 1099 $ 1299 So that means that At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins were endorsed by both the N&R and the Rhino and they both lost. Maybe next time we shouldn’t endorse the same people so at least one of us can claim victory. While the City Council election has been getting all the coverage, the city continues to negotiate with Rocky Scarfone over two easements he owns that run right through the parking lot where the city plans to build a six-level parking deck with a Westin Hotel on top of it. The parking deck is planned to run from Market Street south along Davie Street and over February One Place. The hotel will be built on top of the parking deck on the south side of February One. The city discovered it had a problem Carpet any 3 bedrooms BEST $ 1499 Includes installation, pad, moving furniture, take-up and disposal! See store for details. after it had purchased the parking lot 336-288-6643 CARPET VINYL TILE 1year interest-free financing on select products with approved credit. See store for details. between Market and February One and had already begun the design of the parking deck. It wasn’t until then that the city was informed that Scarfone, who owns the Cone Denim Entertainment Center on South Elm Street had an easement from his back door out to Market and another easement out to Davie. The bands that play at Cone Denim use the area to load and unload equipment. Reports are that Scarfone wants accommodations made to preserve his right of ingress and egress, which is not a simple matter when you consider the city had planned to cover the entire area with a parking deck. Negotiations are continuing. No agreement has been reached, but so far they are still at the negotiating table. What some city councilmember needs to ask is how the city staff missed two easements before making a $2 million land purchase. Serving North & South Carolina since 1960 Call Today & we’re on our way! LOWEST PRICES PERIOD Carpet any 3 bedrooms FREE GOOD BETTER $ 1099 $ 1099 $ 1299 BEST $ 1499 INSTALLATION Includes installation, pad, moving furniture, take-up and disposal! See store for details. *CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH ANY OTHER OFFER. ON SELECT PRODUCTS. CALL STORE FOR DETAILS. 1yr INTEREST FREE financing with approved credit Call today and we’re on our way! Greensboro • Wilmington • Myrtle Beach 1year interest-free financing 336-288-6643 2837 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro on select products with approved Mon-Fri 8am-6pm • Sat 10am-4pm credit. See store for details. Bo and Lynne Broderius at the Grand Canyon. Send your Rhinos Around the World to letters@rhinotimes.com or 216 W. Market St., Greensboro 27401.

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 5

    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 Board of Commissioners to Choose Alan Branson Chair and Justin Conrad for Vice by Scott D. Yost The Guilford County Board of Commissioners won’t elect a new chairman and vice chairman until Thursday, Dec 7, but, behind the scenes, talks have already determined who will take those leadership roles: Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson will serve as chairman of the board for the next year and Commissioner Justin Conrad will be vice chairman. When Branson was asked if he would be chairman, he said, “Well, I’m going to give it a shot.” Several county commissioners said this week that Branson does have at least the five votes needed to be chairman of the nine-member board and that Conrad has the votes to become vice chairman. All five Republican commissioners are expected to vote for Branson and Conrad, and Branson said he’s hopeful he’ll also be able to get support from Democratic Commissioner Kay Cashion. He said he’s not sure about the other three Democrats on the board, but he will try to secure their support as well by Dec. 7. Branson, who runs a family business, Stout Trucking Inc., was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2012. He lives in Julian and represents District 4, which covers a wide swath of eastern Guilford County, including the Guilford County Prison Farm and some of the county’s most Alan Branson Justin Conrad rural areas. Branson currently serves as vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners and it’s a well publicized fact that he considered running for chairman last year. However, at that time, there were several business and family issues that kept him from seeking the job. Last December, current Chairman Jeff Phillips was elected to a second term as head of the board. The board’s chairman only gets one vote like every other commissioner, but he or she has a lot more responsibility. The chairman, who is sometimes referred to as “the mayor of the county,” runs the meetings, sets the board’s agenda, appoints board committees and makes speeches at ribbon cuttings and other county events. Due to Phillips’ excellent attendance record, there have been very few times in the last two years that Branson has been called on to run a meeting as vice chairman – so he’ll no doubt be brushing up on his Robert’s Rules of Order in the coming weeks. Branson has been active as a commissioner and vice chairman, as well as a community member and open space advocate. He has served on the Greensboro/Burlington Transportation Advisory Board, the Guilford County Volunteer Agriculture Board as well as the board of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Branson has also been an (continued on page 16)

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 6

    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com 2017 Greensboro City Council Elections Photos by John Hammer

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 7

    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 Two New Faces on Nine-Member City Council by John Hammer For the next four years Greensboro will be run by a City Council made up of eight women and one man. Seven members of the current City Council won reelection easily on Tuesday, Nov. 7, but Michelle Kennedy defeated At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and Tammi Thurm defeated District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins. Wilkins is the only Republican on the City Council and Barber is its most conservative Democrat, so although most of the City Council is returning, the two new councilmembers will definitely turn the City Council left. Mayor Mayor Nancy Vaughan easily won her third term, and first four-year term, as mayor with 19,885 votes for 67 percent over Diane Moffett with 9,417 votes for 32 percent. Moffett was an unusual candidate for mayor in that she was not registered to vote in Greensboro until the day she filed to run for mayor. She is the pastor of Saint James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, but for the past 12 years has lived in Jamestown. Moffett is an effective public speaker, but not effective enough to cover up the fact that she didn’t know much about the government of the city next door to the town where she lives. Vaughan was on the City Council for four years, took an eight-year break and served another four years before running for mayor the first time in 2013. Vaughan said that one of the reasons she ran for reelection is that the city has so many ongoing projects that she would like to see through to completion. She said, “We’re going to focus on economic development and how we can reduce poverty.” Vaughan noted that the city had $126 million in bond money that was going to be spent on the downtown, parks and recreation, transportation and affordable housing, and she wanted to be a part of making certain the money was well spent. Vaughan said that she had plans Nancy Vaughan Yvonne Johnson to address some procedural issues at council meetings by holding one meeting a month with more of a town hall format, giving people a greater opportunity to speak to the City Council. Before Vaughan won in 2013, Greensboro had three one-term mayors who were each defeated in their bid for reelection. In 2015, Vaughan won with 88 percent of the vote, and the win on Tuesday with 67 percent is considered a landslide. Vaughan said, “I’ve worked very hard the last couple of years. People have seen that. I’m not afraid to tackle tough issues and I think they appreciate that.” Also, although it looks like Vaughan only won one or two precincts in east Greensboro, she did well in most of the east Greensboro precincts that she lost – receiving 30 or 40 percent of the vote. That is a far cry from past elections where the losing candidate in an east Greensboro precinct could count their votes on their fingers. It’s great news for Greensboro if one political action committee is not controlling the vast majority of the votes in east Greensboro. At Large In the at-large race, City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson easily won her first four-year term with 21,360 votes for 27 percent in a three-way race. Before Johnson won an at-large seat in 1993, people said that a black candidate could never be elected at large. Johnson was elected mayor in 2007, and the only election she has lost was her reelection bid for mayor in 2009. In 2011, Johnson won back her at-large seat and has finished first in the at-large race ever since. In 2015, Johnson said that she didn’t plan to run for reelection in 2017, but this year Johnson said that the City Council had so much on the table that she decided to run one more time. Johnson said, “I really want to concentrate on job training for the unemployed. We’ve got to teach people more than just a trade. We’ve got to teach them how to keep a job.” She said that reducing poverty in Greensboro would also be a major goal for her in this term. But she added, “I don’t want to raise taxes. I’ve only voted for one tax increase and that was when the governor took all our money and we didn’t have any choice. Folks don’t need to be paying any more taxes.” Johnson said, “If we can get somebody for the megasite, you’ll see me doing the happy dance on TV.” When asked how she managed to win so decisively year after year, Johnson said, “When you love people, sometimes they love you back.” Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter Tuesday again finished second in the at-large race with 15,719 votes for 20 percent. Abuzuaiter was first elected to the City Council in 2011 by finishing third and moved up to second in 2015. She also finished second this year in the primary and her reelection never appeared to be in doubt. Marikay said, “People see that I really work hard for the city and work in every district of the city.” She also said that the City Council was in the middle of so many projects that she wanted to get reelected to see them through. Abuzuaiter is currently chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which deals with transportation issues, and said she was excited to be reelected to continue to work on those projects. She said, “Voters said they really like my commonsense approach and (continued on page 9) Marikay Abuzuaiter

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 8

    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com High Point Stadium Supporters Counter County Jedi Mind Game with Little Red Hen by Scott D. Yost The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has canceled its planned Thursday, Nov. 16 meeting and, while the commissioners may not have meant to send a message to the City of High Point with that move – they sent one nevertheless. The decision means High Point leaders can drop any last hopes they had that the Guilford County commissioners would make a decision to help finance a $35 million stadium before a critical date: High Point staff plan to meet with the Local Government Commission (LGC) on Tuesday, Dec. 5, to get state approval for the loan needed to build the stadium – which will be the heart of a massive joint public/private downtown revitalization effort. The LGC is a state finance oversight commission that must give its approval before High Point can borrow the money for the project. If Guilford County had voted to help finance the stadium, the city would likely have had a stronger financing plan to present to the LGC, and backers of the downtown revitalization project have hoped since March that they would be able to present some amount of county participation in the stadium’s financing at that LGC meeting. In August, High Point leaders asked the Guilford County commissioners to commit about $11 million in future tax revenues from an expected increase on property values in a 649-acre section of downtown High Point. Barring county support for the project, High Point leaders at least wanted to see the Board of Commissioners make a decision one way or the other on their financing request; however, with no regular county commissioner meetings scheduled until Thursday, Dec. 7, it’s now clear that’s not going to happen. The Board of Commissioners are scheduled to hold a work session on Tuesday, Nov. 14, but the High Point stadium issue isn’t on the agenda and several commissioners say there are no plans to add it. The City of High Point has already approved a new alternative financing plan – “plan B” – that doesn’t include any funding from Guilford County, but some leaders in that city had been holding out hope that Guilford County would be willing to commit to some form of funding for the project – even if it was less than the $11 million High Point had hoped to get from the county over the next 20 years. On Thursday, Sept. 21, the commissioners voted to put off a decision on High Point’s request for “60 to 90 days.” Sixty days from that date is Nov. 20 and 90 days is Dec. 20. It’s possible that, even with that Dec. 20 “deadline,” the county commissioners will never even mention the stadium issue again. Talks with High Point have been largely unproductive and the High Point City Council has already approved a new financial plan to move forward on its own. Earlier this month, Commissioner Hank Henning said High Point officials had been constantly changing statements and criteria and then acting like they hadn’t changed anything. Henning said High Point had been trying to use the Jedi mind trick from Star Wars on the commissioners. High Point Mayor Bill Bencini has now responded that a better fictional account of the situation is a certain old children’s story: The Little Red Hen. An amused mayor said that story had been making the rounds among High Point leaders in the wake of the county’s reluctance to help finance the stadium. Bencini sent a copy of the story to the Rhino Times to make his point. In that well known tale, a red hen finds a grain of wheat and seeks help from the other animals on the farm to plant it, harvest it and bake bread from the wheat. All through the process, the hen gets no help from the other animals – the pig, the cat and the rat – as she goes about her business in a picketty-pecketty fashion. The others continually say, “Not I,” when the hen asks who will help. In the end, the hen eats the bread along with her chicks, but doesn’t share it with anyone else, even though they other animals were eager to eat the bread. (It’s not clear in the story how the hen was able to get access to the materials needed to bake bread or how it managed to do so with no hands. It’s also not clear if Guilford County, in High Point’s interpretation of the story, is supposed to be the pig, the cat or the rat.) Bencini said that, like the unhelpful animals in the tale, the Guilford County commissioners don’t want to help plant the wheat or bake the bread, but they will want to reap the rewards when that day comes. Bencini said there’s a fundamental unfairness to that. As the red hen states at the end of the story, “If any would not work, neither should he or she eat.” Bencini said the argument is simply that the county commissioners should share in the cost because they will share in the reward. The term that some others in High Point have used recently to describe the commissioners is that they are “free riders.” Henning responded this week that he simply does not think the “free rider” argument has any merit. He said High Point officials have been saying that Guilford County will benefit without contributing anything if High Point’s downtown property values increase due to of the project. He said Guilford County will collect more in property taxes from that area if values go up, but Henning added that any additional tax revenue the county collects will go toward things like schools, law enforcement, emergency services and other vital services that benefit citizens in and out of High Point. Despite the back and forth with Star Wars and children’s fables, the two sides don’t look any closer to an agreement. Commissioner Skip Alston said he thought High Point’s vote to form an alternative plan hurt his efforts to get his fellow commissioners on board and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips said he didn’t know of any progress in this (continued on next page)

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 9

    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 faces (continued from page 7) the fact that I explain my votes.” About the newly elected City Council she said, “We need all voices on the City Council. We’ve got to listen to all sides.” The third seat in the at-large race was one of only two hotly contested races in this election, and it turned out to be by far the closest election of the night. First time candidate Michelle Kennedy, with 13,220 votes for 16.45 percent, defeated incumbent City Councilmember Mike Barber, who had 13,121 votes with 16.33 percent. Barber served as a Guilford County commissioner from 2000 to 2004 and served one year as chairman. He first ran for City Council in 2005 and stepped down in 2009. Barber ran again for City Council in 2013 and was reelected in 2015. In City Council races, usually candidates with Barber’s name recognition and experience win reelection fairly easily. But this was not a usual race and Barber won the third position in the primary over Kennedy by only 12 votes. After the close primary, both Barber Michelle Kennedy and Kennedy raised more money and stepped up their campaigning. The consensus among those who closely follow local politics was that it would be close but that Barber would win a narrow victory. The consensus was wrong. When asked what it meant that, while most members of the City Council won, she was able to knock off a political heavy weight, Kennedy said, “The citizens spoke and what they said this year is, ‘we want some institutional history but we also want some new voices.’” Kennedy said, “I ran a grassroots campaign going door to door. It was really a community effort.” She said that her entire career has been rooted in serving the community and she looked forward to serving in a new role as a member of the City Council. Barber said, “I’m disappointed but have been proud to serve the citizens of Greensboro.” First-time candidate Dave Wils finished fifth with 8,800 votes for 11 percent. Although technically it is a six-way race, Wils kind of got left behind when the race for the third spot heated up betweem Kennedy and Barber. Wils ran an impressive campaign, and in a less unusual year he might have won. When asked about his campaign, he said, “I had fun. I learned that there is nothing better than offering yourself up to serve and that you don’t have to win to move the needle.” He said he was pleased with the support that he did receive and found that people are looking for real things to happen and that he hoped the newly elected councilmembers would listen to what the people said in this election. When asked if he would run again Wils said, “Right now, I don’t see any reason I wouldn’t run again.” Wils added that he wasn’t going away – that he would continue to be active in the community. It will be surprising if Wils name doesn’t appear on the ballot in the future. Guilford County Board of Education member Dianne Bellamy-Small finished sixth with 7,653 votes for 10 percent. Bellamy-Small served as the District 1 city councilmember for 10 years before losing to City Councilmember Sharon Hightower in 2013. Bellamy-Small lost to Hightower again in 2015 and was elected to the school board in 2016. Bellamy-Small all but dropped out of the race after finishing sixth in the primary. Bellamy-Small has been involved in politics long enough to know that moving up from sixth to third in the at-large race takes a citywide effort. She has now lost three City Council elections in a row and will have to wait four years until she can run again. District 1 District 1 City Councilmember Sharon Hightower had the most decisive win of the night finishing with 4,158 votes for 84 percent over Paula Ritter-Lipscomb with 745 votes for 15 percent. Ritter-Lipscomb didn’t run a very active campaign and there was never any doubt that Hightower Sharon Hightower (continued on page 11) red hen (continued from previous page) matter. “There has been very little discussion that I’m aware of,” Phillips said. Phillips added that, after a meeting on the High Point stadium about a month ago, the commissioners gave staff direction to explore alternative methods of financing, but, he said, there hadn’t been much discussion recently between county officials and High Point officials – or between county commissioners themselves for that matter. Phillips also said the cancelation of the November meeting was completely unrelated to the stadium issue. “No, that had nothing to do with it,” Phillips said. “It was a business decision.” Phillips said Commissioners Alston and Alan Perdue would be out of town on Nov. 16 and there was a light agenda, so the board canceled the meeting. Regardless of what the county does or does not decide, High Point is moving forward full-steam ahead with the project. High Point City Clerk Lisa Vierling sent out an email to the High Point city councilmembers that said, “The Mayor asked me to give you all a heads-up. We will have a FULL afternoon and evening on Monday, November 20th.” That meeting will include a closed session at 12:30 p.m. to discuss personnel issues, followed by a meeting for “discussion and action on contracts and agreements and related legal proceedings for the issuance of bonds in connection with the downtown catalyst project.” Those meetings will be followed by the City Council’s regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. that day.

  • Add to bookmarks Add to subscriptions Share
    Page 10

    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Flying Rocks and Water Concerns Tip Scales Against Pleasant Garden Quarry Rezoning by Scott D. Yost Opponents of a proposed rock quarry mining and blasting operation near Pleasant Garden breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when the Guilford County commissioners voted not to allow mining there – but the matter could be appealed to Guilford County Superior Court. If the board had approved the rezoning request at the commissioners Thursday, Nov. 2 meeting, and had followed that at a later meeting with approval of a special-use permit, Texas-based Lehigh Hanson would have had the green light to conduct rock blasting and mining on about 60 acres of a 350-acre area in southeast Guilford County near the corner of McClellan and Racine roads. Heading into the meeting, hundreds of residents in the community were worried Lehigh Hanson would get that approval, but in the end the county commissioners voted 8 to 0 to deny the controversial rezoning request. The unanimous no vote from the board came despite a recommendation from planning department staff and from the Guilford County Planning Board, and despite the fact that the Board of Commissioners is run by five Republicans who like to be considered pro-business. In 2000, the land was rezoned to be used as a clay mine for Boren Brick. That rezoning, which is still in effect, designated the land “heavy industrial.” However, that zoning limited operations to mining clay; it didn’t permit granite mining. A new rezoning to allow granite mining and a special-use permit to allow blasting are needed in order for any company to mine granite with rock blasting there, as Lehigh Hanson wants to do. At the Nov. 2 public hearing on the matter before the commissioners’ vote, Attorney Tom Terrell of Smith Moore Leatherwood argued Lehigh Hanson’s case in favor of the rezoning request, and Chuck Winfree of Adams & Winfree led the citizen-based opposition. Given the intense nature of the dispute – Lehigh Hanson considers the site very attractive for its business while the citizens are vehemently opposed to blast mining there – some speculated before the hearing that either side would appeal the decision if they lost. Now the victorious and celebrating area residents who fought the move have to wait and see if Lehigh Hanson takes the issue to court. When the Rhino Times asked Terrell the day after the hearing if the company planned to appeal, he said, “We haven’t discussed it; you are the only person who has raised that issue.” Winfree, who represented the residents in their fight against the quarry operations, said he didn’t know whether Lehigh Hanson intended to appeal, but he added that, given the unanimous vote of the Board of Commissioners, it would surprise him greatly if they decide to do so. “I have not heard,” Winfree said of any appeal intentions by Lehigh Hanson. “I would be shocked if they did. It would be one thing if it was a 4-4 vote or the vote was split.” Winfree said an appeal to Superior Court would face a heavy legal burden. “They have to be able to show the commissioners had no rational basis for taking that position,” Winfree said. He added that, if there is an appeal, Guilford County would be the defendant and the defense would be led by Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne. Payne said a rezoning request of this nature can be appealed to the court system, and he added that rezoning appeals are a type of case Superior Court doesn’t see a lot. “It’s an administrative review in front of a judge, so it’s something that’s rather different from what Superior Court judges are used to,” Payne said. “That judge is sitting and acting very much like a court of appeals does – which is an unusual position for that Photo by Scott D. Yost Commissioners joined quarry opponents in prayer after the Board of Commissioners voted to deny the rezoning request for the quarry. Superior Court judge to be in.” Lehigh Hanson has 30 days to appeal from the time the company receives written notice of the decision from the county. The county planned to send out that notice this week. For now, the Nov. 2 decision greatly pleased about 250 opponents of the proposed blasting operation who stood and cheered and, later, during the recess that followed the vote, formed in a circle, held hands and prayed to give thanks to God. Several people who lived near the quarry site said they had done a great deal of praying beforehand too. Lehigh Hanson is a supplier of aggregate, cement, concrete, asphalt and other building materials for construction projects in the US, Canada and Mexico. Hanson Aggregates Southeast, a subsidiary of Lehigh Hanson, had submitted the rezoning request to Guilford County as well as a request for the special-use permit. At the Guilford County commissioners Nov. 2 meeting, each attorney had 20 minutes to make his case, five minutes for rebuttal, and, in a mirror-image of the Planning Board’s September hearing, each brought expert witnesses and plenty of illustrations. At the meeting, Terrell began by asking the commissioners to follow the recommendation of their planning staff and planning board. He also said the product mined from the quarry, “aggregate,” was necessary for building virtually any structure. “I think we all know by now that aggregate is a primary component of asphalt and concrete,” he said. “We cannot grow as a community if we don’t have aggregate. If you build a hospital, a school, a road or a house, aggregate is a primary component.” Terrell added that, “A great county also needs great businesses,” and said it was evident that Lehigh Hanson is a great business. In the public hearing, Terrell introduced water experts who said the mining and blasting would not negatively affect well water quality or availability in the area, as well as traffic experts who said the added trucks on the roads wouldn’t be a danger. Winfree had expert witnesses of his own who said the opposite. He also showed a video that included images of the community, pictures of the narrow roads and interviews with residents who live near the site of the proposed blasting and mining. Several commissioners, including Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips, said later that they thought the video was highly effective in getting Winfree’s message across. “The video was very compelling,” Phillips said. Phillips said he tried to listen objectively to both sides in an attempt to reach the right decision, though he added that it was, of course, a judgment call. “It’s not an exact science,” Phillips said. The chairman said well water and traffic concerns were key to his decision given the nature of that area. Phillips said that, while “worst case scenarios may not be likely on every front,” it remains a fact that risk exists. “Obviously traffic was a big one,” Phillips said. “I think that’s very real. You have narrow roadways and potential congestion.” Phillips said that congestion raised safety concerns, especially given the mix of vehicles: large trucks, tractors, farm equipment and school buses. He also said some concessions proposed by Lehigh Hanson – such of creating additional turnoff lanes – may have helped matters somewhat but wouldn’t have been enough to address concerns completely. The aesthetics of the area and potential noise from blasting were (continued on page 12)

Page 1 of 4

Please wait