Laurinburg City Council will meet tonight to officially install new Fire Chief Randy Gibson.
The city announced last week that Gibson had been selected to succeed part-time fire chief John Evans following his retirement at the first of this year.
“He was the best choice by far,” said Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker, who will administer Gibson’s oath of office.
Prior to being hired to the job Gibson served as a lieutenant and chief fire inspector.
Evans also served as chief of police, a role currently being filled by interim Chief Kimothy Monroe.
No firm timetable has been set for hiring a permanent replacement to that office.
Also during tonight’s meeting the city will set a date for the public hearing to discuss the construction of a solar farm on Johns Road/US 15-501 Bypass near the wealthy Balmoral subdivision. Following complaints from a number of residents, the city’s planning board voted unanimously to recommend that the city council not approve the construction of the farm.
The farm would be installed by Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar, a firm which has previously been granted the right to build in the city.
According to Jay Cobb of Strata, the company has 16 solar farms totaling 78 megawatts already, with a further seven currently under construction.
During the planning board meeting Cobb explained that the five megawatt farm being proposed inside the city would not exceed 10 feet in height and would require very little maintenance. Construction, which would take about three months to complete, would commence immediately following an approval by council, said Cobb.
Several city residents were critical of the proposed farm during the planning board meeting, offering concerns about aesthetics as well as drainage and erosion.
Balmoral Subdivision resident Mike Coughenour told the board that he was in favor of solar farms in general but said that Balmoral “is not the place” for one, adding that he does not want to look out his window and see one.
Laurinburg resident Richard Pate spoke in agreement, saying that solar farms “should be placed in more rural areas.”
That public hearing will likely be set by council for April 16.
Council is not expected to discuss the solar farm during tonight’s meeting.
Also during the meeting, council is scheduled to receive the results of an electric rate study conducted by the McGavran and Associates firm.
The study will recommend adjustments to the city’s electric rate schedule and allow council to see how the city stacks up against other cities in its electric billing.
Former City Manager Ed Burchins initiated the study last year.