County Commissioners Approve Freight Terminal Amendment

Dozens of Seven Lakes community members attended the freight terminal hearing on Tuesday Morning, June 6. Anna Risano/The Pilot


The Moore County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment that will allow freight terminals in B-2 zoning districts with a special-use permit.

The amendment comes from a request to reopen a freight business near the Seven Lakes West community and across from West End Elementary School. The operation would involve unloading materials from train cars and transferring them to trucks for delivery.

The hearing was continued from last month because of concerns raised about the site’s specific uses and railroad laws. But Planning Director Debra Ensminger explained the situation on Tuesday morning, noting how the last meeting got derailed from the key matter: deciding on a text amendment about freight terminals.

The operation could occur if part-owner Angus McDonald chooses to apply for a special-use permit, in which a separate public hearing would be held to discuss his plans. But the text amendment solely adds language to the unified ordinance.

“It kind of went awry because it was confusing that we were considering the use taking place on that specific property, but what we were considering was the actual wording and the language,” Ensminger said.

She went through past ordinances to look at the zoning of the property and allowed uses. The property has been zoned B-2, which is for highway commercial development. She said transportation and freight terminals had been allowed in that zoning district up until the unified ordinance was rewritten in 2016.

“I want to make it clear that it is an amendment to our ordinance only to allow the use, fright terminal as a special-use permit in the B-2 zoning district,” Ensminger said. “It was not to hear or approve the specific use of Mr. Angus McDonald.”

The last meeting jumped quickly to discussing McDonald’s interest in resuming a business that ran for about 25 years in that location before operations stopped in 2008 because of the economy.

Chairman Nick Picerno assumed it was an “oversight” when the ordinance was written, and Ensminger agreed it was a “mistake.”

Dozens of Seven Lakes community members attended the hearing, concerned with the future use of the rail spur. But because the hearing was not about operations resuming on that site, most of those who signed up to speak said they would be back if the special-use permit goes to the board for approval.

The Commissioners spent little time discussing the details of the amendment, which sets standards to limit the terminal’s impact on neighboring properties. The county Planning Board had spent two meetings discussing the language before recommending approval. It includes requirements on landscaping buffers and screening types.

In other action on Tuesday morning, the Board of Commissioners appointed Bethann Pratte to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees, replacing the seat of Catherine Graham. Graham’s term is set to expire on June 30. She has served a partial term, joining the board in 2022. She had requested a reappointment. 

Other applicants on file for the appointment from the last two years were Tom Beddow, Nikki Bradshaw, Guy McGraw, James O’Malley, Randy Saunders and Brent Tanner.

Commissioner Jim Von Canon motioned for Pratte’s appointment, which was seconded by Commissioner Kurt Cook. It received a 4-1 vote with the opposed vote from Commissioner Frank Quis. There was no discussion by the board.