Thursday, 10 October 2019 14:00

Hamlet Council bans commercial vehicle parking in city limits

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The Hamlet City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday to prohibit commercial vehicles from parking within the city limits following a public hearing. The Hamlet City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday to prohibit commercial vehicles from parking within the city limits following a public hearing. Pixabay

HAMLET — Residents with commercial vehicles will have to find somewhere else to park their rigs since they're no longer be allowed to park within the city limits.

The City Council voted 3-1 to amend the city’s ordinance Tuesday following a public hearing on the matter.

Resident Addison “AG” Player spoke first, saying that he can see four tractor-trailer rigs within sight of his residence in the Pinecroft neighborhood. He said these trucks need to be parked outside the city limits.

Carol Fulmer followed, saying that there has been a tractor-trailer periodically parked in her yard since 2003 and until recently, there have been no complaints. 

These were the only two residents to comment.

Councilman Jesse McQueen said this will “mimic other municipalities,” but it is a “tough decision.” 

McQueen said he felt the council should go with what the city attorney recommends for the sake of the roads and the community.

Councilman Eddie Martin said that he has talked to a lot of citizens who “overwhelmingly” opposed these vehicles parking within city limits. 

The amendment will take effect immediately.

In an effort to continue the cleanup of the area around the Hamlet City Lake, City Manager Jonathan Blanton’s focus is combatting the late-night car traffic in the parking lot where the caboose sits.

According to Blanton, it is not unusual to see cars in the lot between 11 p.m.and 1 a.m. and, subsequently, the night shift at the Hamlet Police Department is spending a lot of time down there.

One way Blanton proposes to curb the parking is to have set hours for the park to be open and then close park access after-hours with gates and fencing at the parking lot entrances.

“Numerous high profile arrests” by the Hamlet Police Department over the past several months have cut down the late-night loitering, he said.

New LED lighting installed recently by Duke Energy Progress has really brightened the area and helped deter the crime as well, Blanton added. 

Council member Eddie Martin suggested open hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. year round and the rest of the council agreed.

The city began improvements around the lake in late July with the dual purpose of increasing public safety and beautification.

In mid-August, the city worked out a donation-purchase deal with Vulcan Materials for 800 tons of rip-rap stone to line the lake “in order to promote a fresh, clean, and neat looking shoreline.”

Last month, Scotland County artist Stuart Carmichael completed the mural near the Hamlet Senior Center, with a last-minute addition featuring the likenesses of late City Council member Joe Robinson and his grandchildren.

Last week, the Bowtie for Boys Club at Fairview Heights Elementary presented wildlife identification signs to post around the lake.

As for other upcoming improvements, the caboose will be sandblasted and repainted and a new fountain will be installed which will help aerate the lake and be visually appealing, according to Blanton.

At the September meeting, Blanton outlined a master plan for the park which also includes:

  • improving the integrity of the existing dam, at the request of the state;
  • the addition of a recreational “splash pad” located between the senior center and the old VFW; 
  • an extension of the existing walking trail; 
  • more picnic areas;
  • boardwalk extensions; and 
  • bathrooms.

Blanton said he hopes to have the draft of the master plan finished by the end of the year so the city can start applying for grants in 2020 to help fund improvements.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Blanton gave a report on the recent budget audit, stating the general fund is “strong” and the enterprise fund balance is greatly improved. 

Prior to the recent increases water and sewer service fees, the fund balance was $650,000 in the negative. The current balance is still in the red, but only by $15,000.

City Hall will be closed Nov. 11 in observance of Veteran’s Day.

The annual Seaboard Festival will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 on Main Street, where there will be craft and food vendors, children’s activities, live music, a car show and 5k foot race.

The Richmond County Agricultural Fair, sponsored by the Hamlet Lions Club, will take place the following week at the Hamlet Fairgrounds. 

Mayor Bill Bayless, who is a member of the club, said there will be lots of Halloween activities for the kids, fair rides and animal displays.