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Firefighters air grievances at South Hill meeting

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South Hill clears away roadblock at Microsoft site / January 13, 2021
South Hill Town Council held a brief meeting Monday to address pressing issues, including a time-sensitive rezoning of industrial park land purchased by Microsoft.

Due to the spike in the number of coronavirus cases in and around South Hill, attendance at Monday night’s monthly meeting was limited to Mayor Dean Marion, Council members, Town Manager Kim Callis and clerk Anna Cratch.

Callis said town officials recently learned that a small portion of the land inside the Hillcrest Industrial Park was zoned R1-15. A cemetery that was never developed had been proposed for that property. Callis said no one knows the exact location of the proposed cemetery and a study of the land turned up no graves.

The property to be rezoned is surrounded by 210 Tunstall Road between Interstate 85 and North Mecklenburg Avenue on the south side of the street.

Now that Microsoft has purchased the Hillcrest Industrial Park, Callis said the company has asked to have the entire site zoned for industry use. Council agreed, without objection.

Callis said a marine services business is looking to locate in the town limits, but currently the South Hill zoning ordinance does not authorize this type of business in any of its districts. Council approved a change to the zoning article to allow marine sales, service and repairs, by special exception permit, to locate in the general commercial district C-2, central business district C-3, urban mixed-use district MX-3, and industrial district, general I-G.

Council also approved a change to height and bulk requirements for buildings and structures located within the town. Currently, the maximum height in zoning district I-P industrial park district is 45 feet, Callis said. When that height limit was set, the fire department’s pumper truck could only battle blazes in buildings that were no more than 45 feet tall. The new pumper truck can accommodate buildings up to 65 feet. Therefore, Callis asked Council members to raise the height limit for buildings in the industrial park district, which they did.

In other business, Callis announced that COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to members of the South Hill police and fire and Southside Rescue Squad.

South Hill development director Brent Morris in a written report to Council announced that the Town will celebrate its 120th anniversary Feb. 16. He is planning “a small, COVID-safe, treasure hunt that can be promoted on social media” to mark the event. The winner will receive a gift basket that includes gift vouchers to our local businesses.

Staff has begun working on the Town budget for fiscal year 2021-22. Callis said preparation materials have been distributed to the mayor, budget and finance committee members, town staff and community organizations that traditionally request funds. “We plan to deliver a copy of the proposed budget to Town Council for review in April with a public hearing scheduled for May 10,” said Callis. He also promised to “carefully and regularly monitor federal and state legislative issues and other developments and adjust our plans [for preparing and delivering a budget to Council] accordingly.

Callis said he received questions about why Northington Street was removed from the list of roads to receive an asphalt overlay in the spring. Water and sewer line repairs must first take place under that road, Callis said, and it did not seem prudent to complete the overlay work and then tear it up for the water and sewer repairs.

Also, estimates for the job came in higher than the amount budgeted so some streets were eliminated from the project list to meet budgetary constraints. “If an opportunity to complete more of the work on the list becomes available, town council will be informed,” Callis said.

The Thomas Street stormwater pipe is scheduled to be replaced. Thomas Street will be shut down for approximately one week as the replacement takes place, but Director of Municipal Services C.J. Dean did not specify when that work would occur only that the public will be notified ahead of the street closure.

Dominion Power has replaced just over half of the streetlights with LED fixtures around South Hill and expects to complete the project by March.

Carolyn Blackwell was named to the South Hill Board of Zoning Appeals to replace Alexander Graham after Graham was appointed to Town Council, and Lillie Feggins-Boone will take the seat previously held by late Council member and Vice Mayor Leroy Sasser on the South Hill Community Development Association (CDA).

Marion said that “due to health reasons, Lincoln Sturdivant has asked to step down from serving on the South Hill Planning Commission of which he has served since December 1991. Mike Sparkman has been contacted and agrees to serve out Mr. Sturdivant’s term ending Dec. 31, 2021.”

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