Hamlet approves rezoning request

By: By Christine S. Carroll - [email protected]

HAMLET — Acting as the city’s Board of Adjustment on Tuesday night, city council members approved rezoning a parcel owned by Councilman David Lindsey and his wife, Kim, former president of the Seaboard Festival. The Lindseys sought a special-use exception to zoning ordinances so they could give the land to the festival, which wants to build a stage there.

In a flurry of votes, council members also opened the door for the use of alcohol at the Hamlet Depot, welcomed the arrival of a vintage rail car that would be displayed nearby and approved paying the remainder of the bill for new playground equipment.

“I think it’s a good idea,” council member Jesse McQueen said of the Lindseys’ rezoning bid. “It’s a very generous idea.”

Lindsey removed himself from the dais for the presentation and council vote, which ultimately was 4-0.

Reconvening as the city council, members also approved a measure that would allow bridal parties and other celebrants to offer alcohol at events taking place at the historic depot. Applicants would have to fill out the necessary forms 45 days in advance, so council members had time to study the requests.

Another measure also concerned the depot: Hamlet Depot Board members want to display a 1927 “Jacksonville” Pullman car bought and converted into a Seaboard Air Line business car in 1944. A private party would obtain and restore the car — which will come from an Indiana museum with even its china and crystal service intact — and set it on tracks in back of the Hamlet Visitors Center, next to the depot.

“We think Hamlet is the perfect place for this car,” said Depot Board president Bill Matheson, the man who engineered the movement of the old depot to its current spot. “There are still people alive today who could have been on this car.”

Council members voted 4-1 to work with the board to house the car. Lindsey voted against because of safety concerns.

In a move that dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on a done deal, members voted to use $15,000 budgeted for new city entrance signs to pay for playground equipment due to be delivered today. The total bill for the equipment destined for South Hamlet Park was $22,000, part of which the city paid with $5,000 allotted for park repair and maintenance.

Council members voted 5-0 for the measure, throwing in plans for benches not originally included.

In other measures, the council:

• Agreed that Hamlet’s downtown coordinator, Stephanie Thornsbury, could take over planning of the annual Christmas parade, which the Lindseys had managed under the auspices of their nonprofit, Friends of Hamlet. Kim Lindsey resigned as parade director last week.

• Agreed to give more time to considering whether to ban engine compression brakes on trucks traveling through Hamlet on N.C. 177 and U.S. 74 Business. Such brakes “make more racket than a diesel engine,” Mayor Bill Bayless said.

• Voted to list a third group of surplus equipment for online auction. Two previous groupings have earned the city $65,000, more than traditional auctions have yielded in the past.

• Re-appointed resident Dot Bynum to the Hamlet ABC Board and Oz Queen to the Hamlet Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

• Wished well to city retirees Maureen Swanson and Benny Billingsley.


By Christine S. Carroll

[email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.