11/14/08 — Wayne County considers its options on land

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Wayne County considers its options on land

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 14, 2008 1:46 PM

A "mega-site" for new industries could be created if Wayne County commissioners agree to take an option on 89 acres of land off the U.S. 117 Bypass south of Mount Olive.

The proposal will be discussed at the commissioners' meeting Tuesday.

Along with that property, the commissioners will consider taking an option on a 45-acre site near Pikeville as part of the Wayne Economic Development Alliance's push to identify potential industrial sites in the northern part of the county.

The option price is $10,000 annually for each parcel.

The properties would help fill in what local officials call two gaps in the county's economic development plans -- a site in northern Wayne and a large site in the southern part of the county.

There are no specific plans for either of the sites, County Manager Lee Smith said this week.

"We get inquiries, and the good thing about developing in that (Mount Olive) area and having that property is its proximity to Interstate 40," Smith said. "You are literally minutes away from a major Interstate and this Pikeville property, you are on a major Interstate and can be at Interstate 95 in just minutes. They are two great locations."

He added that commissioners have been working for two years with the alliance to locate potential industrial properties.

The Mount Olive site, owned by the Lewis family heirs, is located on the east side of the U.S. 117 bypass south near its intersection with Smith Chapel Road.

The Pikeville property, owned by Barbara Lancaster, is bounded by Interstate 795 and the Pikeville-Princeton Road.

In June, the commissioners took an option on a 104-acre tract of land off the U.S. 117 Bypass near the Wayne-Duplin county line for use as a potential industrial site. The tract that commissioners will consider Tuesday is adjacent to that property and if purchased, would create a site of almost 200 acres, which could be either a single large industrial site or several smaller ones, Smith said.

The property optioned in June is owned by the Luke Donnell Britt Trust, with his mother, Suzanne G. Britt, listed as trustee. The Britt family lives near Calypso.

It has a selling price of $9,500 per acre for the first year and $10,000 per acre for each year thereafter if purchased. The owner will receive $10,000 per year for the option for the five years which will apply to the purchase price if the county decides to buy the land.

The Wayne County Economic Development Alliance agreed to pick up the difference, about $1,500, out of its special appropriations, not county money, if it is needed, in the second or third year on the Britt property option.

Both tracts are less than a mile from the Wayne-Duplin county line and both are bordered on the west side by the U.S. 117 Bypass. The Britt property is bordered on the east side by South Breazeale Avenue. The CSX Transpor-tation railroad line is located just across the two-lane South Breazeale Avenue from the property.

The properties' location at the U.S. 117 Bypass provides access to a four-lane highway with no stoplights all the way to Interstate 40 near Faison -- less than 10 miles away -- making them attractive sites for industrial use, Smith said.

Water, sewer and electricity also are available to the properties, Smith said.

"Part of the county's economic development is to secure properties and options," Smith said. "You have to have products out there and you have got to have different pieces of property.

"The next step will be to have the properties certified, basically making them shovel ready. It is good property. I would be very surprised if we have any issue with the soil based on soil maps and things I have seen."

Site certification, a process recognized on the national and state levels, includes soil borings and other related tests.

Smith said the county also is looking at what the future holds when the Mount Olive shell building is sold. The building is located in the Mount Olive Industrial Park just north of town on the Old Mount Olive Highway.

"You have to have plans ready to build the next shell building," he said. "If you want clients, you have got to have land, but you have got to have buildings; and if you don't have buildings then you don't have clients.

"Commissioners talked about getting some plans in writing for a shell building in the future. That does not mean we are going to build it right now, but it means we have got to have some plans on the shelf."