Program offers up to $40,000 for Robeson residents hurt by Matthew

By Bob Shiles -

Adrian Lowery

Jerry Stephens

LUMBERTON — Robeson County property owners who suffered at least $5,000 damage because of Hurricane Matthew now can receive a maximum of $40,000 to assist in the rehabilitation of their property as part of the North Carolina Finance Agency’s Essential Single Family Rehabilitation/Disaster Recovery Program.

Adrian Lowery, who is administering the program for the Lumber River Council of Governments, told the Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday there currently is $150,000 available to assist county residents who meet program requirements. This is in addition to $150,000 available for the city of Lumberton and $150,000 available to Red Springs, which administer their own zoning and planning regulations.

Robeson County is one of the first five counties to receive money for the program because there was so much property damage locally, Lowery said. There eventually will be a $12 million pool shared by 49 counties from which more money for Robeson County property owners can be obtained.

An owner must live on the property in order to qualify, Lowery said. Eligibility is based on income and the number of family members. Renters are not eligible, nor are mobile homes unless they have been modified to exist as permanent structures.

Lowery said money through the program must be used for rehabilitation only, and if the property owner has been displaced the owner must be planning to return and live on the site. The funds will be allocated to property owners on a first-come, first-served basis.

His office already has received 54 applications, most of which were from property owners who had previously applied for other assistance, Lowery said. Lowery was at the meeting as part of an attempt to get the word out about the program.

Commissioner Jerry Stephens voiced concerns about the first-come, first-served policy. He asked if property owners in all parts of the county are aware of the program, and was race, as in other state programs, being considered in the application process.

“We’re not concerned about race,” Lowery said. “We are concerned about who suffered damage.”

Although he voted with the other seven commissioners to allow the Lumber River Council of Governments to represent the county in administering the program, Stephens still had concerns at the close of Monday’s meeting.

“Let’s do it right and let’s do it fast,” he said. “But I hope all of those properties approved are not all in the same area. There are a lot of properties in South Lumberton and West Lumberton that need to be addressed.”

In other business, the commissioners:

— Unanimously approved a conditional-use permit request that allows Lee Ander Carter to establish a vineyard and “event venue” on a 52.03-acre tract in Shannon. The site will be used for weddings, birthday celebrations, dinners and benefits, said Dixon Ivey Jr., the county’s director of Planning and Inspections. As many as six large festivals a year are also permitted under the granted conditional-use permit.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the county,” Ivey said.

— Approved renewal of an agreement between the county and Parkton that permits the town to use the county’s building safety and code enforcement services.

— Accepted a $4,000 bid for the purchase of an acre of land on Davis Bridge Road in Lumber Bridge.

— Appointed Robert Revels as the licensed pharmacist on the county’s Board of Health, and Daniel Walters as the licensed dentist on the board.

— Appointed Elbert Gibson, of St. Pauls; Leon Maynor, of Lumberton; and county Commissioners Tom Taylor, Berlester Campbell and Raymond Cummings to the Transportation Advisory Committee of the Lumber River Rural Transportation Planning Organization.

— Appointed Edward Henderson, of Red Springs, and David Townsend, of Rowland, to the Lumber River Rural Transportation Planning Organization Coordinating Committee.

Adrian Lowery Lowery

Jerry Stephens Stephens

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-4165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-4165.

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