The public hearing for the rezoning of three sites on Kingsboro Road was met with unexpected resistance Monday night during the Edgecombe County Commissioners meeting.
Edgecombe County businessman Marvin Horton asked the board to reconsider rezoning the sites from AR-30 to M-2 until a use permit be required for each specific use within the zone.
Horton reminded the board about a hazardous waste dump industry that attempted to locate in the Kingsboro Industrial Site in 1987 and the the hog slaughter operation in 1996. He successfully fought against both of them.
“Now, you, our commissioners are considering zoning a huge amount of land for industrial use, just as was about to be done in 1987 and 1996. ... Should we rezone first and then announce the specific use later, when it’s too late?”
Despite Horton’s plea, after the public hearing the board unanimously approved to rezone two of the three sites. Because of an error in the public notice that was published in The Daily Southerner that listed the land in the wrong township, the board could not vote to rezone it. That site will be placed on the agenda for a public hearing next month.
Over the past few months the board pushed rezoning the property and is optimistic about the possibilities that the changes that it could bring.
In December, the area received CSX Select Site designation. The designation confirms that standard land use issues have been addressed and that the site is ready for industrial development. CSX’s Select Site program enhances industrial recruitment.
Tarboro resident and businessman Steve Redhage was also against the rezoning.
“There are good things that will always come our way if we are patient,” he said. “We should put in place the ability to control that land and not generically rezone it so that someone can come in with the power and the money to overrule or buy out what ever they want with influence. A special use requirement will give us that barrier to prevent from getting something that we may not want. You just don’t want to create any old job ... we want good jobs.”
Before the board voted on the rezoning, County Manger Lorenzo Carmon explained that a special use permit would be required for businesses such as the waste industry and hog industry.
“The zoning ordinance reserved those special use permits for those special operation that could have a negative impact of surrounding property and environment,” he explained.
Carmon said the county and Edgecombe Martin Electric Membership Corp. have millions of dollars in infrastructure in the area and are hoping to recruit industry to create jobs in the county. The property is still own by individual property owners.
Horton’s called Carmon’s special use permit explanation “white wash.”
“They just want it to go through,” he said.
Speed native Rev. Rooselvelt Higgs spoke in favor of the rezoning.
“We need any help we can get to help the job situation in Edgecombe County,” Higgs said. “We’re not going to get the Beverly Hill-type jobs that go to Chapel Hill and other areas to come here. We might as well face that. That’s realty. I’m not saying go out and get anything, but I’m saying don’t be so selective that you turn down everything, either.”
In other action, the board unanimously approved:
• to allow the staff to explore and investigate the 15.8 acres of land on Roberson School as surplus property. In a letter, James Bell, a member of Roberson Conetoe Inc. asked the county to relinquish the land to them for $1 to preserve it as a historical landmark. Carmon told the board that his staff will take 60 days to evaluate the property to come up with the best scenario.
• unanimously approved a $34,125 grant that will assist in paying for a preliminary engineering report for Princeville water and sewer. The county will match the grant. In another action the board approved the Wooten Company to do the preliminary report for $68,250.
• approved 21 of the appointments for the Human Services Advisory Board. The majority of the board members were members of the health department and social services boards. Four positions are still vacant.