Public road closure, Sunday sales on Commission agenda

Published 9:12 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Come Tuesday, part of a public county road could be closed and Sunday sales could be legal countywide.

The commission has set Monday as its night to vote on whether to transfer 2.7 miles of County Road 7717 to Lockheed Martin. Lockheed representatives say they need the road closed in order to be considered for future manufacturing prospects. Opponents say the county should not allow a public road to close just because a local industry wants it done.

Lockheed Martin first petitioned to have the road closed in September. Lockheed representative Adam Carson said that the usable land on Lockheed’s property will be completely filled once three current projects are completed.

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“We have three new projects underway right now. We have 39 completed buildings across our site,” Carson explained at the Feb. 26 commission meeting. “But we have to abide by (a regulation) that says there has to be certain distance between facilities on our site. It keeps us from building anything within 1,250 feet of public roads, our property line and the transmission lines that run through our property. Other items that restrict our ability to build within our existing site are wetlands and the topography of other land. As we stand today, those three new projects were the only spots left to construct facilities on our site. Without this road, we will no longer be considered for future contract wins.”

While the commission has already declared their intent to vote on the road closure issue Monday, whether a vote will come on Sunday alcohol sales remains to be seen.

Commissioner Charlie Harris, District 5, first put forward the issue in Nov. 2017 and after some debate between commissioners, a resolution was passed seeking authorization from the state Legislature to either vote on the ordinance among commissioners or to hold a referendum on the issue.

Harris, along with commissioners Jimmy Barron and Homer Wright, have expressed support for voting the ordinance through as a commission while Chad Copeland and Russell Johnson have said they prefer a referendum. Chairman Robin Sullivan has not said which method he would approve.

With the bill authorizing the commission to take the next step finally passing out of the Legislature last week, the item has been placed on the agenda for discussion Monday, and the commissioners could vote right then and there to allow Sunday sales. The commissioners could also vote to hold a referendum or could table the item to the next commission meeting for further deliberation before deciding on which route to take.

The commission will also have “procedural” items to take care of regarding the Rex Lumber Mill project that was approved Feb. 28. The saw mill is committed to provide at least 110 jobs initially and to make an investment of over $100 million into the local economy.

The Pike County Commission will meet upstairs at the Pike County Health Department Monday, March 26. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. and will be followed by the business meeting at 6 p.m.