City lumber sale is contemplated

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Money from timber, a withdrawn lawsuit and a couple of property rezonings were among the topics of business considered last week by the Lewisburg City Council.

"I want to give you some money," Terry Wallace, the industrial development director for the city told the mayor and councilmen during the panel's monthly meeting on Feb. 9.

Wallace got a phone call for information about 50 acres at the Lewisburg Business Park that fronts Mooresville Highway. The telephone conversation included the fact that the land "has a dense forest," Wallace said.

In conjunction with discussion at a recent meeting of the city Industrial Development Board, Wallace reported that bids were called to meet specifications for removal of the trees that could be sold for timber. The idea was for loggers to pay the city.

Five bid packages were obtained by prospective bidders, Wallace said. T&T Logging was the only company to submit a bid on Jan. 29. T&T offered $18,000.

"Seems low," Councilman Ronald McRady said.

Wallace reported one prospective bidder inspected the forest and concluded there wasn't enough hard wood to make the job profitable for him. T&T will apparently sell the wood for pulp.

"I appreciate what you're doing," McRady said.

Councilman Robin Minor suggested the city get an expert to inspect and report on whether wood is worth more.

Councilman Quinn Stewart suggested the Council defer the decision to another time. McRady agreed and the vote was unanimous.


The air conditioning heating and ventilation system at Lewisburg's Recreation Center was installed improperly according to discussion at the February meeting of the City Council.

Some $75,167 has been spent to repair and maintain the HVAC system since the Rec Center opened in July of 2003, according to Jimmy Stitt, aquatics director for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Stitt and City Attorney Bill Haywood discussed at length various aspects of warranties and the statute of limitations for the machine and its malfunctions.

"There were days we'd come in and the pool area looked like a cloud," Stitt said.

Dehumidification of the air over the swimming pool was a chief function of the HVAC system that was to have a 20-year lifespan, Stitt said.

Replacement of the unit's compressor "was a big job," the aquatics director said. "In four years, it had (what seemed to be the effects of) 20 years of service."

"It looks like we got stuck with this one," Stitt said. "I wish I had better news...

"It's no good," he said. "It could go down tomorrow."

Computer problems and other malfunctions have plagued the machine and its costs have been mounting over time. Eventually, the Council directed Haywood to sue for performance on the warranty.

"It's a good unit," City Manager Eddie Fuller said. "It's the installation."

And therein lies the legal conundrum.

Haywood filed suit on July 16, 2009, but the suit had to be filed on or before July 7, 2008, to be within the window of state law on holding installers responsible, the city attorney said. That date in the summer of 2008 is five years after "substantial completion of such improvement," and the improvement is the work conducted for installation, not the related machine's warranty.

Since it was "obvious that the action was not sustainable," Haywood said he had to drop the case or face legal consequences of his own as an attorney.

"With this dismissal," Councilman Quinn Stewart said, "we can't do anything."

As a result, the Council moved on to other business.


Also that night, the Council unanimously voted for two rezonings of property as requested by the owners.

One is to reclassify the old Borden building from an industrial zone to a commercial category to further the owner's development of the building for a variety of other uses. It includes mini-storage units added since it was sold at auction in recent years.

Another is to rezone 1111 and 1113 East Commerce St. from a combination of commercial and residential categories into a single commercial business classification so that a veterinarian may conduct business there.

Both rezonings are being conducted through separate ordinances to amend the city's zoning code. A public hearing was conducted on both. A third and final vote is anticipated at the Council's meeting in March.