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Project Heat could mean $400 million investment for Rowan

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
Rowan County is apparently in the bidding for a power generating facility that would bring a huge boost to the tax base.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has set a public hearing for June 1 on Project Heat, which would bring an estimated $400 million in new investment.
Monday night, Robert Van Geons, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, gave commissioners a brief sketch of the possible project. The company is seeking a longer-term incentive grant ó 68 percent rebate of tax paid for 10 years. The county’s incentive grant policy calls for a rebate of 85 percent for five years.
Van Geons did not name the company, but sources familiar with the project said it is the Southern Co., which owns the power generating facility off N.C. 801, Rowan County Power LLC. In 2006 Atlanta-based Southern Co. purchased the facility from Progress Energy.
Rowan County Power LLC is the county’s largest tax payer, with an assessed value of over $350 million.
Officials from Southern Co. have met with county officials over a year or more discussing possible expansion of the Rowan site.
Van Geons said the company also is looking at several other sites and the final incentive grant offered by the county will be a major factor in the final decision.
Responding to a question, Van Geons said the 68 percent for 10 years is the figure requested by the company.
In other matters, the board:
– Agreed to merge the city of Salisbury animal control program into the county program effective July 1.
The county will also hire the city’s one animal control officer with the city providing $60,000 to cover the first year of salary and benefits, and $30,000 the second year.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, expressed concern that the board was hiring an additional employee while the county has a hiring freeze in place.
Commissioner Chad Mitchell said the city could opt to end its animal control program, forcing the county to handle the calls without any additional personnel.
– Delayed until May 18, a request from the Mount Ulla Historic Preservation Society to extend the Millbridge Scenic Byway.
Ford said commissioners were given one book to share and they had not had enough time to read it.
– Approved a permit to exceed the county’s noise ordinance for the Rally at the River charity fundraiser event at Tamarac Marina May 29-May 31. Proceeds go to benefit the Children with Unique Disorders Foundation.

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