County officials are set to consider offering incentives for two industries — one familiar company out of Michigan attempting to locate its $25 million investment to potential sites in Sampson, and another big taxpayer seeking to expand its local footprint.
Public hearings have been called for Monday’s Sampson County Board of Commissioners meeting to receive public comment with regard to the county’s intention to enter into incentive agreements with NOVI Digester I, LLC and NOVI Digester II, LLC.
Under the proposed agreements, the county would provide performance-based business incentive payments to both NOVI Carolina Digester I, LLC and NOVI Carolina Digester II, LLC over a five-year period in the amount of $522,348.50 each. The company would commit to make certain capital investments in the county and maintain certain levels of employment.
The potential public benefits anticipated to be derived from each agreement include a taxable investment of $25 million, tax revenues of approximately $1.7 million over a five-year period, and employment of 18 full-time jobs at an average annual salary of $38,000.
The company proposes to develop and operate an anaerobic digester plant which digests organic agriculture waste into bio-methane which fuels the plant’s generators to produce 4.2 megawatts of renewable electricity.
The proposed site for NOVI Carolina Digester I, LLC is over about 40 acres located within a larger tract of property on the western side of Clive Jacobs Road, approximately 0.6 miles south of N.C. 24. NOVI Carolina Digester II, LLC is proposed for a roughly 80-acre trace located on the southern side of Tomahawk Highway/N.C. 41, approximately 1.7 miles north of NC Highway 210.
The board rezoned 50 acres off Clive Jacobs Road in November, following concerns raised by Commissioner Albert Kirby and a subsequent 3-2 split approval.
Planning staff approved separate requests to rezone approximately 31.62 acres and another tract of approximately 20.09 acres, both located off Clive Jacobs Road, from RA-Residential Agriculture to I-Industrial. The Board of Commissioners followed suit at its November meeting.
Commissioner Albert Kirby asked whether the site was being rezoned for Michigan-based NOVI Energy, which in April 2014 withdrew its request to locate an anaerobic digester plant on a 40-acre tract in the Sampson Southeast Business Center in Clinton. Kirby recalled “vociferous” opposition to the digester by city residents and said he wanted to head off any perception of “environmental racism” — placement of low-income or minority communities in proximity of an industry that is not well-received or is perceived as damaging — before it could begin.
“There are no industry prospects at this point,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose at the time.
Kirby, one of a small group of people who visited Michigan in early 2014, said he did not see “anything wrong” with NOVI, but said his constituents have voiced their unease about a similar request being made in their neighborhoods.
He said then that he could not vote for the rezoning measure if he did not know what the specific purpose was for, or a targeted industry. At that point he asked County manager Ed Causey what he heard about NOVI’s intentions.
“They’ve looked at a number of sites,” Causey answered. “They have been looking at some of the rural sites as they could not go into the industrial park here.”
NOVI previously proposed a 4.3-megawatt power plant in the Sampson Southeast Business Center in Clinton, similar to a 3-megawatt plant in Fremont, Mich., that is the nation’s first anaerobic digester.
While NOVI ultimately decided to withdraw its request “after careful consideration of many factors and speaking with local residents and decision makers,” officials did express their intent to explore an alternate location for a plant in eastern North Carolina, specifically in Sampson and Duplin for close access to hog waste.
A public hearing about possibly entering into incentive agreements with Prestage AgEnergy of NC, LLC is also expected to be held at Monday’s meeting.
Under the agreement, the county would provide performance-based business incentive payments to Prestage AgEnergy of NC, LLC over a 10-year period ranging potentially from $188,825 to $358,228. The company would commit to make certain capital investments in the county. A taxable investment of $10,000,000, and tax revenues before incentives of $716,456 over a ten-year period.
Prestage AgEnergy of NC, LLC is currently constructing a poultry litter fueled power plant at their Moltonville area feed mill. The company proposes to also construct, and seek incentives for, ancillary operations to include a poultry litter storage building, ash warehouse, ash granulation operation and truck wash.
The proposed site is located at 735 Moltonville Road, Clinton.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.