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Lumberton City Council advances effort to build 72 public housing units

LUMBERTON - The City Council took a step Wednesday toward the building of the first new public housing since 1974.

Meeting as the Council Policy Committee, council members forwarded to the city's Planning Board a request from the Lumberton Housing Authority to rezone two parcels of land on East Fifth Street. The authority's plan is to build 72 new apartments. The apartments, funded by the federal Community Block Development Grant program, would replace 72 units in Hilton Heights and Myers Park that were lost to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The apartment complex would have a community building and playground. It would have 16 one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom apartments housed in five buildings.

The property, located at 2440 E. Fifth St., is currently zoned for business. It is bordered on one side by Osterneck Street and by a trailer park on the other side. The land is owned by Dennis Norris and was once the site of a drive-in movie theater.

CPC decisions are referred to the monthly City Council meeting for final action, or in this case to the Planning Board for review.

In other action, the council members gave unanimous preliminary approval to a federal buyout of 100 flood-damaged homes in South, West and North Lumberton. The price tag is estimated to be as high as $25 million, with the money coming from a $236 million federal grant to North Carolina.

It is Lumberton's second round of buyouts, this one from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program that is managed by the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resilience.

This project will not include the elevation or renovation of homes. The homes will be destroyed.   Once the properties are bought and the homes destroyed, the city will maintain the vacant lots. Some light development on the abandoned lots is possible for recreation programs.

Excerpt of 2/5/20 article by Scott Bigelow---Staff writer-The Robesonian