Stanly hands portion of Oakboro road to Charlotte Pipe

324 feet of Lighthouse Road will be maintained by the company rather than the county


ALBEMARLE — The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved a request by NCDOT to abandon a 324-foot section of Lighthouse Road in Oakboro at the board’s meeting on Monday.

NCDOT had asked the county to formally approve turning over the public road adjacent to the Charlotte Pipe property so the company can maintain that section of road rather than it residing under the taxpayer-funded state maintenance system.

The board voted 5-2 in favor.

Chairman Scott Efird and Commissioners Bill Lawhon, Patty Crump, Peter Asciutto and Trent Hatley voted in favor, while Vice Chairman Mike Barbee and Commissioner Brandon King were the two nay votes.

Roddey Dowd Jr., former company CEO and current vice chairman of the Board of Charlotte Pipe, spoke to the board prior to its vote on the matter.

“I know you are going to be talking about the road closure tonight and I appreciate your consideration of that,” Dowd said. “Oakboro has voted for abandonment and they own the biggest part of that… We think it’s important for the safety of our employees and the safety of people in the county to close it down.”

The same request failed to pass at a meeting earlier in March, where the commissioners voted 4-3 against supporting the resolution, citing concerns with how the NCDOT had handled the situation. The department had already built a fence around the discussed section of the road and blocked it off without county approval.

At the time, the acceptance of the resolution was blocked in a majority vote by Barbee, Asciutto, Crump and King.

When the topic was reintroduced to the commissioners by County Manager Andy Lucas on Monday, he apologized for not making sure the board was fully reminded of the fine print in the county’s contract with Charlotte Pipe.

“The last time this item was presented, I made some assumptions regarding everyone’s knowledge of our performance agreement with Charlotte Pipe,” Lucas said. “There were several members of the board that weren’t here in May of 2020 when that agreement was approved, and so I did not provide enough information to help the board make an informed decision.”

Per the economic development agreement with the company executed in May 2020, the county must work to promptly process Charlotte Pipe’s request to close a portion of Lighthouse Road.

An email from Charlotte Pipe’s attorney Steve Hunting was attached as a reference, as well as the Town of Oakboro’s resolution in support of abandoning the portion of the road inside its jurisdiction.

While Crump and Ascuitto flipped their votes to now support the NCDOT resolution, Barbee and King opted to vote against it once again.

Barbee said he had received many phone calls over the last month from concerned citizens about the legality of government officials giving away a public road.

“This is going in reverse form. This is the state asking us,” he said, referencing the NCDOT’s request to permit an action it had already engaged in. “I understand this was part of a bargaining agreement that was carried on. I’m not in objection to the road, but I am in the way the bargaining went with the authority these people have in obtaining the road. I don’t have a problem with who got the road — just a problem with the way it went about being taken over.”

The commissioners are set to hold their next regular meeting on April 15 at 6 p.m. inside the Gene McIntyre Meeting Room at Stanly County Commons.