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Old speedway receives new life

JACKSON – Two short public hearings were held back to back here Monday during the Northampton County Board of Commissioner’s regular meeting. One concerned the approval of a special use permit while the other regarded the annual Home and Community Care Block Grant.

County Code Enforcement Director William Flynn presented the information on the special use permit, explaining the request concerned reopening the carting track in Margarettsville.

“How many of you know where that is,” Chairman Robert Carter asked the audience with a laugh, noting the multitude of hands that were raised up in response to his rhetorical question.

Despite the property being zoned as Agricultural-Residential (AR) and open-air sporting events not fitting into permitted uses, it operated for years as a competitive carting track through its “preexisting, nonconforming use of land.”

But according to the county’s zoning ordinance, Flynn explained, once a business is closed for a period of 180 consecutive days, it loses its “grandfathered” status. To reopen, the new owner would need a special use permit.

Chairman Robert Carter asked the permit requester if he had anything to say during the public hearing. Paul Fisher from Hurley Properties stepped up to speak, simply stating their intention was to open the speedway up again.

“We would like to bring revenue back to the county,” he said.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner asked when the facility was last operational. The answer, which came from the previous owners who were in attendance in the audience, was approximately four years ago when they sold the property.

No one in attendance spoke for or against the permit during the public hearing.

Flynn noted the Code Enforcement staff had considered a variety of issues such as sufficient access to entrances/exits, traffic flow, and impacts to neighboring properties. They found no significant issues.

Commissioner Charles Tyner motioned to approve the special use permit request, and Commissioner Chester Deloatch seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

“Another business in the county,” Tyner remarked afterwards before they moved to the next public hearing on the agenda.

The second one concerned the Home and Community Care Block Grant, an annual grant which distributes money to different programs for senior adults throughout the county. Joslyn Reagor, the Director of the Office on Aging, presented the information to the Board.

The amount allocated to Northampton County for the upcoming fiscal year totaled $279,367. This funding is split among the Health Department, Lake Gaston Retirement Village Foundation, the J.W. Faison Senior Center, and Department of Social Services.

The $69,672 total allotted to the Health Department will go towards the home delivered meals program. Lake Gaston RVF will receive $4,272 designated for home improvement.

Almost half of the $84,340 allocated to the J.W. Faison Senior Center will go to fund senior operations while the rest of the money goes towards transportation.

The Department of Social Services will receive the largest portion of the grant, a total of $121,083 which will go to In Home Level I and II, Adult Care, and Adult Day Health.

No one from the public spoke during the public hearing, but Tyner asked for more information about the home delivery meals program. He said he wanted to know more about things such as the amount of people participating and how long they have to wait for the meals.

Reagor didn’t have any of that specific information on hand but indicated she would pass it on to him at a later date.

With the discussion complete, Commissioner Fannie Greene motioned to approve the grant allocations, and Deloatch seconded. The vote passed unanimously.