During the public hearing section of the Southern Pines Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, a new business to be voted on March 22 was presented. The council will consider the proposed American Whiskey Company to be located off U.S. Hwy 1 at 175 Yadkin Road as seen on this map.
There were no public comments after the presentation by stakeholders, Bradley and Jessica Halling of Rickhouse Properties, LLC and Neil Smith Engineering with architect Bryan Welborn. When the call for comments was made, the blue-hand icon to be pressed for voice acknowledgment was not active at the virtual meeting. Written comments will be accepted for at least 24 hours after the public hearing.
The four-phased planned development qualified for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield Program due to a solvent spill in 1970. The EPA assists with funding in assessment and revitalization of the land use.
The property is 15.4 acres, and four acres are allocated for development.
According to Jessica Halling, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality hired a private engineering group, Hart & Hickman, to assess the safety. Their report will relay remediation needs.
“… already know likely outcome, at most, is a vapor barrier at Rickhouses B and C,” Halling said. Rickhouses are storage areas for aging distilled spirits.
Construction phases are indicated by the color codes on the legend map by Neil Smith Engineering.
Phase 1 is red- construction of Distilled Spirits Plant, approximately 15,500 square feet with an office, restaurant, production, distillery, tasting room, parking, and fire access.
Phase 2 is blue- Rickhouse A in place to store whiskey barrels and stage area.
Phase 3 is green — adds Rickhouses B and C and with expansion for more production and storage.
Phase 4 is pink – adds Rickhouse D, office headquarters, and old office becomes private tasting space and expansion to allow for additional kitchen equipment and dining.
Phases will be triggered by responsible business growth and profit.
Neal Smith said it will be asking for a reduction in plan development for parking. The kitchen and restaurant area is larger than can be served and will be asking for a reduction for parking.
Smith said because it is under an RM1 Planned Development, it is requesting a 50-foot height limit to accommodate an approximately 45-foot tall still.
Halling said American Whiskey Company does not plan on offering a huge menu but enough for people to feel safe while tasting spirits. The company will be suitable for hosting private gatherings where people can bring their own chefs.
In other business, the council voted to refinance the new Southern Pines Fire Station No. 2 that will save over $388,000 in finance charges. The loan will be refinanced from a previous lending rate of 3.5% down to 2.06% on the remaining $4,356,791.65 and is scheduled to be paid off by April 2033.
The council voted to allocate Southern Pines Library’s administration fees directly to the IT director and the library director. Another change is in the internet kiosk fee for non-cardholders. The first 15 minutes of internet kiosk use is free and an hour is $10.
During the meeting, Councilman Mitch Lancaster spoke out against COVID-19 restrictions and said the science behind the pandemic face mask and lockdown mandates shows it is ineffective and attacks freedom.
In a follow-up email to Sandhills Sentinel requesting clarification, Lancaster said, “Governor Cooper’s mandates and lockdowns are a radical departure from standard epidemic practices. His policies are unconstitutional, ineffective and immoral. We (Freedom Matters NC) stand against these policies and the harms created by these policies, especially upon our children.”
Lancaster said an agreement against the mask and lockdown mandate was signed by 47 medical scientists from nine different countries and over 13,000 scientists and 41,000 medical practitioners support stopping the lockdown. He said that loneliness is causing stress, mental health deterioration will exceed normal rates, and the poor will be more impacted.
“I think this story needs to be told because people are hurting and we have a lockdown that is fundamentally ineffective and they do not change the course of this disease … and this is just the mental effect,” Lancaster said. “When will we return to a normal and healthy society?”
No answer was offered, and Mayor Carol Haney asked for the meeting to be adjourned.
Feature photo of the rendering of American Whiskey Company provided by Architect Tag Galyean.
~Article and photo of Southern Pines Fire Station by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.