Commissioners approve new land deal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners approved an incentive land deal Monday that could bring a cold storage warehouse to Granite Quarry.
Granite Cold Storage LLC has offered $15,000 per acre for 22 acres of a 114.3-acre property on Heilig Road, which is valued at about $17,000 per acre. Granite Cold Storage also has requested a “right of first refusal” of 23 adjacent acres for future expansion.
“Without assistance, if you will not sell this land, the project is not feasible here,” said Robert Van Geons, director of RowanWorks. “The company has had offers and discussions with other communities.”
Commissioner Jim Sides said the county is giving a the company direct incentive of about $50,000 by selling the land below its assessed value. The value would increase even more with $1 million worth of necessary water, sewer and road improvements to the site.
A Community Development Block Grant would fund 75 percent of these infrastructure improvements, and the town of Granite Quarry is asking that Rowan County share the cost of the 25 percent local match. The town and county each would contribute a maximum of $125,000.
Sides said the county should have a way to recover its money from the land sale loss and the grant match if the company doesn’t create the expected jobs.
“If they don’t proceed with the project within two years, we can buy the property back for the same amount of money they paid,” Sides said. “But what if they built the building, still didn’t go forward with 40 employees, and then sold the property at a profit?”
Van Geons said the company would have to pay the cost of the improvements made with grant and matching funds if it does not maintain jobs in the county.
Commissioners approved the incentive package 3-1. Sides said he was casting the dissenting vote because he thinks giving incentives to some businesses and not others is wrong.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain asked a representative from Granite Cold Storage if the company would wait past June 2012 to start the project.
The representative said it doesn’t want to, because the company will lose a lot of customers if building isn’t finished by the beginning of 2012.
Commissioner Carl Ford said he was voting for the proposal because it would help provide jobs.
“They’re also buying land that’s been sitting there for years, increasing the value of the land and the surrounding area and bringing long-term tax revenue,” Ford said. “We could definitely use that.”
At the same meeting, commissioners also set a public hearing for June 20 for proposed incentives for “Project Tree.”
The company employs about 200 workers at an existing location in the county. It is considering buying and refurbishing a vacant industrial building for a new operation that would create 49 new jobs and invest more than $2.6 million.
This does not meet the minimum requirements of the county’s investment grant program, so RowanWorks is requesting that the county consider a performance-based grant of $765.31 per job created with a maximum of $37,500.
Commissioner Jon Barber did not attend Monday’s meeting.
In other business
Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Approved transfer documents to sell Rowan County’s share of Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium to the City of Kannapolis for $3 million, which will be paid over 50 years at no interest.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, which will move some programs and three county positions to the nonprofit July 1 when the county dissolves the senior services department.
• Delayed the scheduling of a quasi-judicial hearing for a conditional use permit for Davidson County Broadcasting to build a radio tower in Mount Ulla until the parties agree on a time limit.
• Approved Juvenile Crime Prevention Council funding recommendations for fiscal year 2011-12.
The N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention plans to allocate $290,430 to Rowan County for programs serving delinquent, undisciplined and at-risk youth.
• Set a public hearing for June 20 for the closeout of the county’s CDBG Scattered Site Housing Project, which provided substantial rehabilitation to seven homes and emergency rehabilitation to nine homes.
Rowan County was awarded a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the program in November 2008 from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance.
• Approved several budget amendments and board appointments.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.