Commissioners vote to allow mobile home expansion near 100-year-old farm

Jan. 18—LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Commissioners gave T D Pate Investments owner the go-ahead Tuesday to more than double the capacity of his mobile home park on a tract of land that neighbors one of North Carolina's few Black-owned Century Farms.

After tabling the matter on multiple occasions, commissioners unanimously decided to allow the rezoning of a 13.32-acre tract of land on N.C. 72 near the Raft Swamp area from a Residential Agricultural District to a Residential Single-Family District to allow Pate to add an additional 20 mobile homes.

The nine mobile homes that currently make up the park were grandfathered into the area, which meant the rezoning was not required but the rezoning must occur to expand more than 50%, said Dixon Ivey Jr., the county's community development director.

The property neighbors the Booker T. McArthur Farm on land that has belonged to the McArthur family since 1914. The McArthur descendants called for the denial of the rezoning request, stating the neighboring mobile home park would further diminish the value and legacy of the McArthur Farm.

"A mobile home park will not add value to our property," said Teresa Harlee, speaking on behalf of the family. "It will not add value to my mother's property who lives down the street ... It will not add value to our land that is adjacent to the trailer park that is there right now, so how is his adding 28 trailers going to add value to our land?"

To expand the mobile home park, T D Pates Investments must meet a steep mandate by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

"If he places one additional home on his property then he's going to be required to do a turn lane ... He has a plan in place for the turn lanes however that part of the project is extremely expensive," Ivey said.

In related news, commissioners tabled a second request made by T D Pate Investments for a special-use permit to allow for the establishment of a mobile home park and waste facility on the same property.

Ivey told commissioners that T D Pate's owner Terry Pate originally opened the waste facility without initial county approval and was cited by his office.

"Mr. Pate was given misinformation from my office and we're trying to get in line now," Ivey said.

The McArthurs also opposed the matter, saying that the waste facility is a safety hazard and machinery disturbs the peace.

Terry Pate assured board members that beeping from trucks backing up would not be an issue in the morning because trucks are backed into space in the afternoon. This in turn allows the truck operators to proceed forward in the morning.

Harlee said this was not fact.

Commissioners will further discuss the matter during the Feb. 20 meeting.

Meadow Road Dog Park upgrade

In other business, members of the Lumberton FFA Chapter told commissioners about their plan to work with the Robeson County Recreation Department and add equipment and signage to the Meadow Road Dog Park.

In their presentation, FFA members told the commissioners they plan to construct large and small dog seesaws, a large and small dog dog ramp, a weave post and dog hoop as well as collaborate with Sign City to incorporate signage that includes the do's and don't for dog owners at the park.

Commissioner David Edge said that he was instrumental in providing the funding to establish and construct the dog park, which is located at 3924 Meadow Road in Lumberton, just on the edge of Northeast Park.

"I'd be glad to work with you," Edge said.

Housing Authority report

Also Tuesday, the commissioners acting as the Robeson County Housing Authority Board learned from executive director Niakeya Jones Cooper that the authority has again reached High-Performance Status.

The designation was received after the public housing agency scored well on the Public Housing Assessment System, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The rating system is based on four major indicators: physical condition, financial condition, management operations and capital funds. The Housing Authority received a score of 91 out of a possible 100 points.

Commissioners also heard that finances and the management thereof for the Robeson County Housing Authority are "clean" after an audit was conducted by the Pattersons and Associates PLLC.

Commissioners also:

— Approved a resolution honoring Dr. James G. Jones.

— Approved a resolution recognizing Memory Griffin, who turned 100.

— Recognized Josie Lee Johnson as a Distinguished Senior Citizen.

— Approved a resolution supporting the submission of an application to the N.C. Department of Commerce for a Rural Building Reuse Grant to assist Biophil Natural Fibers in improving the existing facility in Robeson County.

— Approved a resolution supporting the submission of an application to the N.C. Department of Commerce for a Rural Building Reuse Grant to assist AsburyGraphite Mills of NC in improving the existing facility in Robeson County.

— Approved resolutions selecting Amber Davis and Robyn Ramsay to be Plat Review officers for Robeson County.

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at tsinclair@robesonian.com or 910-416-5865.