10/01/07 — Commission will get look at jail study at meeting

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Commission will get look at jail study at meeting

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 1, 2007 1:45 PM

After voicing concerns at the Wayne County Board of Commissioners last meeting in September about the recent spate of short agendas, Commissioner Andy Anderson shouldn't have any complaints on Tuesday as the group faces a jam-packed meeting, highlighted by a report on the recently completed jail study.

County Manager Lee Smith has explained that the jail study, which was done Brennan and Associates, is an important piece of the county's long-term financial puzzle that has to at least be looked at before making any decisions on school funding.

"We only have so much revenue, and we have to try and plan for all the county's capital projects," Smith said at the commission's last town hall meeting last week.

He expects the consultants to present two options -- renovation of the existing detention center or construction of an off-site facility.

And with the 200-bed space routinely holding upward of 250 inmates, he continued, the need clearly exists.

"Our jail population keeps going up, and not only are we running out of room, our jail is very inefficient," Smith said. "They won't be coming in with a design plan, per se, but I think they've got some good ideas."

But, while no action will be taken yet on the results of that study, the commissioners will go ahead and consider setting two public hearings.

The first is for a request by Jack Smith to rezone an 11-acre tract of land on the west side of N.C. 581, about 600 feet south of U.S. 70. Currently being used as farmland, Smith is hoping to change the zoning from residential-agriculture to community shopping.

It is within the vicinity of the new Wal-Mart and adjoins property that the state Department of Transportation is planning to run service to within the next several years.

County Planning Director Connie Price explained that while Smith has no plans for the land yet, he does hope to increase its attractiveness to potential future buyers.

The planning board, however, recommended to the commissioners that the land be rezoned not to community shopping, but to village district, which will allow only small businesses in order to protect neighboring residential areas.

Additionally, the board also will be deciding on a date and time for a public hearing regarding the expansion of Reul Inc. and the county-based incentives it will receive for staying in Goldsboro.

As part of the One North Carolina Fund grant -- given by the governor's office -- that helped company acquire the Traction Power Division of Impulse Manufacturing and remain in Wayne County, the commissioners are being asked to pledge $50,000 to help match the $100,000 grant. Smith also said Goldsboro is being asked to come up with the other half. The money will be paid over three years as 50 new jobs are created.

But that's not all the county is offering.

The commission also will consider three additional grants of up to $50,000 over the next three years. Those funds will come from the new excess ad valorem taxes collected as a result of real and personal property added to the tax base by the Reul's expansion.

Offering the incentives, Smith said, was not an easy decision, but one they feel was right.

"They had expansion opportunities elsewhere," he said. "But we want to look at local investment over the long term and it's only a drop in the bucket. We kept those jobs here."

Other hot topics will include the county's Comprehensive Plan, which Smith is hoping to discuss closely with the commissioners as they begin the process of trying to adopt and eventually implement it.

"I just want to make sure they understand this and find out where their priorities might be," he said.