International company eyes Spencer for industrial operation

SPENCER — An international company is considering Spencer for a recycling and reprocessing operation, RowanWorks Economic Development confirmed Tuesday night.

In other business

Also at Tuesday’s Spencer town board meeting:

• Spencer has tentative approval for a $13,000 federal grant for computers inside police cars. Several residents asked police to keep pedestrians on sidewalks and off the streets. Police Chief Michael James urged residents to call 911 if they see an open fire so officers can respond immediately.

• Aldermen approved $2,800 to upgrade the town’s weather siren, which was manufactured in the 1960s or ‘70s. The upgraded siren will have different tones for fire and weather emergencies and will be tested once every three months, Fire Chief Jay Baker said.

• The town will have more free mulch next week and asphalt to patch potholes. Public Works Director Joel Taylor said he is prioritizing sidewalk repairs and will begin with tripping hazards on Salisbury Avenue and 4th and 5th streets.

• Aldermen will hold a budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. April 29.

• Resident Barbara Kemper said she is concerned that work continues “full speed ahead” on a halfway house for veterans, even after the town pulled the facility’s permit.

“They do not have a permit to act as a group home,” Mayor Jody Everhart said. “We can’t stop them from someone living there, but as a group home they are not permitted.”

• Resident Billy Pless asked Spencer police to stop following him. He said since 1982, he’s been arrested 132 times and is being harassed.

• Resident Patsy Duncan asked when the town would update regulations for the historic district and get rid of some eyesores.

• Resident Bob Oswald said he was encouraged by the town board retreat.

• Aldermen passed an ordinance amendment regarding shooting guns in the town, awarded a $500 grant for facade improvements at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum and removed Larry Bolen from the Zoning Board of Adjustment for not attending.

• Aldermen agreed to have an assessment of town hall completed to determine if the building is worth renovating.

Spencer aldermen were asked to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to define “recycling” and “resource recovery” and the uses would be added to the industrial zoning district. During a public hearing on the amendment, EDC Executive Director Robert Van Geons said he appreciated the responsiveness of Spencer staff and leaders to make the changes that would clear the way for the company.

Aldermen approved the change. While Spencer is competing with other sites for the business, Van Geons said he can go back to the company and tell leaders that they would comply with regulations in Spencer.

Alderman Reid Walters said he understands the need for companies to negotiate in confidence but asked Van Geons for an example of the type of business that would use the town’s amended ordinance.

Companies like Charlotte Pipe in Charlotte and RDH Environmental Services in Cleveland recycle scrap metal stock, tires and other materials to create new products, Van Geons said. He said he could not reveal which company was considering Spencer but added that two unrelated German companies have been looking at sites in Rowan County recently.

Aldermen asked Van Geons to sit down with them sometime and make suggestions about how the town can better market available sites like the former N.C. Finishing Co. site.

“We have prime industrial sites,” Walters said. “It would be good if the EDC would give us specifics that we should do.”

Van Geons agreed.

Also Tuesday, aldermen had a lengthy discussion about an ongoing problem with mailboxes in the town’s historic district. Aldermen approved amending the Historic Preservation Commission’s guidelines to require a certificate of appropriateness for curbside mailboxes, which will serve as a deterrent.

Town leaders would like all mailboxes in the historic district to be on the house, not at the curb.

But about a year ago, the U.S. Post Office began requiring people who moved into the historic district to use a curbside mailbox. Aldermen protested and said they thought the issue was resolved, but Town Manager Larry Smith said there is still confusion surrounding the subject, and officials with the post office will not call the town back.

“There is not one other historic district in Rowan County that’s having this issue right now,” Walters said. “Why are we being singled out on this issue?”

The board voted to contact staff in a congressional office to request assistance getting answers from the U.S. Post Office. Smith said other towns across the state are dealing with the same problem.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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