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Tyrrell commissioners stand firm on Confederate monument location

Joyce Sykes-Fitch, a Ludford Road resident, on June 4 voiced her “one last and final comment regarding the Confederate monument removal.”

She said she had read the law and she wanted to know if the commissioners and their legal counsel had discussed options in the statute that permit “objects of remembrance” to be relocated.

“This board has never expressed an opinion on whether we wanted the monument moved,” replied Chairman Tommy Everett. “You are the only one who has said anything about it. You deserve an honest and fair answer; however, some of things you addressed are specifically prohibited.”

This was the third time Sykes-Fitch had spoken to the commissioners during the public comment period about removing the Confederate monument from the courthouse lawn.

Everett called on David Clegg, county manager and attorney, to relate what advice the commissioners had received from the state attorney general, the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill and Clegg himself.

Clegg said the statute is “very clear” that an object of remembrance cannot be relocated to a cemetery or museum, as Sykes-Fitch had suggested earlier.

If it must be moved, it must be to a place of equal prominence and reverence to the original site, Clegg stated.

The veteran monuments on the east lawn of the courthouse “create more of a situation that says to the public that this is where Tyrrell places its objects of remembrance,” Clegg explained.

Set out below is section 100-2.1 of the General Statutes, enacted in 2015 and titled “Protection of monuments, memorials, and works of art.”

(a) Approval Required. – Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section,

a monument, memorial, or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated, or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.

(b) Limitations on Removal. – An object of remembrance located on public property may

not be permanently removed and may only be relocated, whether temporarily or permanently, under the circumstances listed in this subsection and subject to the limitations in this subsection.

An object of remembrance that is temporarily relocated shall be returned to its original location within 90 days of completion of the project that required its temporary removal. An object of remembrance that is permanently relocated shall be relocated to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated. An object of remembrance may not be relocated to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum unless it was originally placed at such a location. As used in this section, the term “object of remembrance” means a monument, memorial, plaque, statue, marker, or display of a permanent character that commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of

North Carolina’s history. The circumstances under which an object of remembrance may be relocated are either of the following:

(1) When appropriate measures are required by the State or a political subdivision

of the State to preserve the object.

(2) When necessary for construction, renovation, or reconfiguration of buildings,

open spaces, parking, or transportation projects.

(c) Exceptions. – This section does not apply to the following:

(1) Highway markers set up by the Board of Transportation in cooperation with

the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural and

Cultural Resources as provided by Chapter 197 of the Public Laws of 1935.

(2) An object of remembrance owned by a private party that is located on public

property and that is the subject of a legal agreement between the private party

and the State or a political subdivision of the State governing the removal or

relocation of the object.

(3) An object of remembrance for which a building inspector or similar official

has determined poses a threat to public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition. (2015-170, s. 3(c); 2015-241, s. 14.30(c).)

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