County approves $4.2M megasite land purchase

February 3, 2015

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners has approved plans to spend about $4.2 million to purchase 255 acres at a megasite that could house a major auto manufacturer.

The board decision came just before midnight, ending more than five hours of comments from residents at a public hearing that began at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Randolph County Historic Courthouse in Asheboro. The vote was 4-to-1, with Commissioner David Allen casting the only "no" vote.

Those in opposition said the purchase of the megasite land would hamper their quality of life, put the environment at risk and take a gamble with taxpayer dollars for a project that has no committed tenant. Supporters said having a stake in the project would help attract a large employer that could provide opportunity for a county sorely in need of jobs.

Randolph County Commissioner Darrell Frye said the board's decision gives the county a "bit of control" in the megasite project.

"We're buying an asset," Frye said. "It gives us a seat at the table. And it's just a step in a longer evolving question-and-answer process."

David Powell, who has been working for years on megasite assembly efforts, said the decision is a "great moment for us."

"I've been working on this since 2011," Powell said. "It was my idea. It was something that I put a lot of risk into. It's a great moment that the county stepped up. Now that they've stepped up, I think we are going to be able to entice other stakeholders to put money into it."

Alan Ferguson, president of Northeast Randolph Property Owners, spoke in opposition to the land purchase.

"I think they are throwing away our freedom," he said in reaction to the board decision, adding that there are no answers to numerous outstanding questions.

Source: Triad Business Journal