03/16/05 — Fremont could reap financial benefit from U.S. 117 intersection

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Fremont could reap financial benefit from U.S. 117 intersection

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on March 16, 2005 1:50 PM

FREMONT -- The intersection of the new U.S. 117 and N.C. 222 could be a bonanza for Fremont, a town that has suffered economically from a lack of good roads.

Connie Price, the director of the Wayne County Planning Department, showed members of the Fremont Town Board on Tuesday several proposals for development of the land at the intersection, including a photo of how it would look with a shopping center, motel, restaurants and other shops.

He also showed plans for industrial and residential development. If the land at the intersection is fully developed, Price said, the properties could be worth as much as $15 million and could generate almost $100,000 in annual tax revenues for the town.

The eastern side of the intersection is already within the town limits. The town would have to annex the remaining land if it were to benefit from tax revenues. Price said the town would have to extend water, sewer and electrical service to the properties and pay for street improvements. He estimated the cost at $575,000.

Price said that the intersection could be developed with 250 apartments, 80 single-family homes or four industrial plants.

He said 80 single-family homes on 15,000-square-foot lots would generate $65,000 in tax revenue and add 200 people to the town.

Price told town board members that they should go ahead and pursue permits to run sewer lines to the intersection so that the town would be ready if development comes.

"It looks good to me," Mayor Devone Jones said of the proposals, adding that the town board should be prepared should a developer express interest building at the intersection.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie had opened the discussion, saying the board had decided in a fall workshop that developing the intersection was a high priority. Alderman Billy Harvey suggested that the town hold a second workshop.

County Commissioner Andy Anderson, who attended the meeting, said he would arrange a meeting with County Manager Lee Smith and Economic Development Commission President Joanna Thompson about the possibilities posed by the construction of the intersection.

Anderson compared the intersection to that of Interstate 40 and N.C. 42 in rural Johnston County, where restaurants, motels and other stores have been built. He said that once the new U.S. 117 is completed, people will use it to travel to Wilmington and other coastal destinations.

Electrical study

McDuffie recommended that the board spend up to $2,350 to study the possibility of merging the town's electrical operations with those of Stantonsburg, Black Creek and Lucama. Fremont Public Works Director Tim Howell said the plan would save Fremont money.

"If it can save us in utilities," Harvey said, "we should do everything we can."

Kevin O'Donnell, the president of Nova Energy Consultants of Raleigh, would perform the study. In his written presentation, O'Donnell said a combined electrical operation would result in fewer employees.

Alderman Leroy Ruffin's motion to pay for the study passed unanimously.

Other business

In other business, the board:

*Hired Don Collins, a Goldsboro Fire Department lieutenant, as fire inspector at $30 per inspection.

*Agreed to study a request from Ernest Pitts, who wants to subdivide a 1.33-acre lot on Old Black Creek Road for two mobile homes.

*Accepted a bid of $1,800 from Ellis Roofing of Fremont to replace the back section of roof on the Community Building.

*Declared 41 junked vehicles as safety and health hazards and asked the police to enforce the ordinance for their removal within 30 days.

*Signed a mutual aid agreement with the Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

*Recommended that the county commissioners set an 8-cent fire tax rate for all people in the Fremont district. Town residents now pay 10 cents, and out-of-town residents pay 6 cents.

*Passed a budget amendment for a dump truck, street paving and sidewalk repairs from Powell Bill money.

*Adopted a resolution to remove the cap of a 66.67-cent tax rate from the town's 1913 charter in a 4-1 vote, with Alderman Harold Cuddington dissenting.

*Scheduled a budget workshop for April 12.