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Developing for the future – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald – Roanoke Chowan News Herald

October 30, 2021
By Cal Bryant

Printed 5:29 pm Friday, October 29, 2021
GATESVILLE – A proposal to make use of $600,000 of taxpayer’s cash to buy 145 acres of land for the aim of financial growth was met with combined reactions right here final week throughout the often scheduled assembly of the Gates County Board of Commissioners.
The county’s management sees the acquisition as a catalyst to entice new companies to find to Gates County, which might develop its tax base, thus creating tax income as a substitute of levying extra property taxes sooner or later.
On the flip aspect, some county residents argue that this specific parcel of property was developed for industrial use years in the past (Retailers Commerce Heart) and has but to dwell as much as its earlier billing for potential progress.
The land – positioned alongside US 158 adjoining to the State Workers Credit score Union and Gates Home – is at present owned by Briarwood Forest Merchandise, Inc.
In line with paperwork offered by the county, Pitt Godwin, authorized counsel to the county commissioners, and County Supervisor Tim Wilson have already met with Al Carey, President of Briarwood Forest Merchandise, with regard to this property. They negotiated a value of $600,000, which incorporates the land and all current infrastructure (septic, sewer, retention pond, and personal roads).
These negotiations revealed that the vendor wished to obtain fee on the property in 2022, most definitely in January.
The county says it might not need to borrow the cash since there are enough funds within the normal fund to make the acquisition.
Following North Carolina Basic Statutes, a public listening to was held ultimately week’s assembly relating to the proposed buy of the land.
Kyle Truman questioned the necessity to spend $600,000 when that cash could possibly be higher used to, “deal with the sudden bills that at all times pop up after we least anticipate them.”
“We even have native legislation enforcement officers which might be underpaid,” Truman added. “Many voters in our group maintain questioning how lengthy it will proceed and get upset shortly after we take into consideration main spending that’s pointless.”
Carroll Ward questioned why the county would spend $600,000 on land that at present has a tax worth of $306,000.
“What’s the plan for this land if we do buy it,” Ward requested. “As a citizen, this seems to be a segway to some form of growth. With any such funding there needs to be a marketing strategy in a really detailed method. There needs to be a timeline that spells out after we the residents will obtain the profit from this buy. Except you’re ready to share this plan with the residents tonight, there needs to be a no vote for the acquisition of this land. At no time ought to a handful of individuals be allowed to spend any such cash with out first presenting to the general public what the plan could be and after we might see a return on funding.”
Former county sheriff Ed Webb mentioned all those that have owned this specific parcel of land over the a long time, “tried to make a go of it, however failed.”
“That piece of property has by no means been something greater than only a sandpit,” Webb famous. “It wouldn’t even perk when ya’ll tried to place a sprayfield there for the wastewater therapy plant. To see $600,000 of our cash spent on land not price standing on signifies that cash goes down the drain.”
In his presentation, Wilson mentioned the positioning is strategically positioned alongside a serious freeway and its total measurement is appropriate to accommodate various kinds of financial growth. The location is located in shut proximity to the highschool, center faculty, county library, group middle, and Retailers Millpond State Park.
“Housing is not going to be a major planning goal for this property, regardless of the county having a scarcity of properties on the market and rental property,” Wilson mentioned.
Nonetheless, he didn’t rule out the potential of a few of the land getting used sooner or later for multi-family housing (city properties).
“There’s no deal finalized at this level,” Wilson careworn.
Jack Owens, vice-chairman of the commissioners, referenced the three Greenback Basic shops now working within the county.
“They got here right here due to a necessity and to generate income; that’s precisely what we’re selecting to do, which is to make land out there to companies, to offer items and companies to our residents, and to offer income for the issues that we’re at present spending tax {dollars} on,” Owens mentioned. “Our prices are going up and we don’t wish to tax our residents any extra, so we’re making an attempt to generate extra alternatives that may create income for our tax base.”
Owens added there have been many companies that require native residents having to journey outdoors of the county to acquire.
“Why can’t now we have them within the county for you whereas the county advantages from the tax income base,” Owens careworn. “By proudly owning that property we’ll have the ability to set sure requirements that will likely be used to have some management over what may be constructed there.”
Owens steered the county must kind a relationship with an skilled in industrial actual property to steer the method of growing that land.
“We’ve had folks expressing curiosity in finding right here, however we had nothing to point out them,” said Commissioner Linda Hofler. “This website is centrally positioned on a serious freeway. And we have to understand that land isn’t going to get any cheaper. That is our alternative now.”
Commissioner Ray Freeman mentioned he had his doubts within the early levels of discussing this potential buy.
“From an financial growth standpoint, that is good for Gates County,” Freeman remarked. “We’ve 240,000 folks a yr coming to the Millpond [State Park]. Companies close to there can profit from that quantity of holiday makers. This property has the potential to turn out to be a magnet to draw folks.”
Fee Chair Dr. Althea Riddick mentioned there may be cash within the state and federal budgets that may help the county in growing this property.
“I’ve requested our state and federal officers to assist us; we now have companions in excessive locations which might be going to assist us,” she mentioned. “We’ve a strategic plan that we’re about to launch. That, plus having public land that we are able to develop, places us in a great place to maneuver this county ahead. We both transfer now when funding is obtainable or wait when the cash is gone and the door closes on this chance. The way forward for our county is now.”
Riddick went on to say that if the county had the retail shops and meals institutions, the gross sales tax and property tax income generated by these entities might generate the funds they should give raises to county staff and make infrastructure enhancements which have been delayed.
John Taylor Kittrell requested the commissioners how do they consider they may entice companies to return to that individual space when businessmen who beforehand owned the property couldn’t.
“The property has sat there for 14 years and the house owners did nothing with it,” he mentioned. “I hope you [commissioners] are actually assured in what you’re considering.”
Kittrell added that he felt there are two specific areas of the county – “candy spots” as he referred to as them – which might be higher suited to industrial growth: US 13 / US 158 at Tar Heel and US 158 / NC 32 in Sunbury.
Annie Ward ask the commissioners to let the residents intently examine the board’s financial growth plan and supply suggestions earlier than a call is reached to buy the property.
Crystal Saunders famous the shortage of business growth, retail and eating places, within the county and supported the commissioners’ plan for such progress.
“Change is commonly laborious, however change is required in our county,” she said.
Reba Inexperienced-Holley additionally supplied assist for the plan.
“I got here to Gates County 40 years in the past for a job and would go away on the weekends so I might exit to eat, exit to socialize, and buy what I wanted,” she mentioned. “What can we now have within the county that wasn’t right here 40 years in the past – Greenback Basic, Greenback Basic, Household Greenback, Greenback Basic. I’m glad to see our commissioners interacting with state and federal officers to carry wanted assets right here to our county.”
Inexperienced-Holley mentioned such alternatives have beforehand landed on the ft of the county leaders, however they stood by with “closed fists.”
“You’ve obtained to have pores and skin within the recreation to seize maintain of those alternatives; you’ve obtained to have your act collectively to reap the benefits of what’s in entrance of you….the acquisition of this property, the strategic plan offers us that pores and skin within the recreation,” she famous. “With out change there’s stagnation, after which loss of life.”
The commissioners have scheduled a two-day retreat on Nov. 7-8 the place additional dialogue is anticipated on this and different financial growth plans.
Owens mentioned he was hopeful that the board would come out of that retreat with an opinion of methods to transfer ahead and would talk that with the general public.
Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper business, serves because the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan Information-Herald, Gates County Index, and Entrance Porch Residing journal.
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