At its recent meeting, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners voted to rezone 108 acres owned by the county from Faison’s commercial district to Sampson County’s light industrial district. The property is located in the Faison extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) in the vicinity of Faison Highway, Interstate 40 and the connector road.
Sampson County will have to go through the town of Faison to approve the rezoning.
Last year, the town agreed to relinquish control on the condition that the county would zone it for light manufacturing, assembly or distribution uses. However, Senate Bill 251, an act limiting the ETJ powers of the town of Faison within a half-mile area around N.C. 403, requires any zoning change to be approved by the Board of Commissioners and by an ordinance from the town of Faison, which must occur by July 1, 2010.
There is no requirement that the town approve the zoning change. Jeff Vreugdenhil, director of Sampson County Planning and Development, said there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t.
“The town of Faison is OK with it and is taking measures to implement (the change) before July 1,” said Vreugdenhil. “It would be required that they also approve taking this out of their jurisdiction and putting it under light industrial.”
Vreugdenhil said county and town of Faison officials had productive meetings, and the town seemed to be on board.
“We had two very encouraging meetings and they fully understand the process,” he stated. “I’m fairly confident it should go fairly smoothly.”
Board chairman Jefferson Strickland reiterated Vreugdenhil’s comments, saying there was no reason to believe there would be a hiccup in the process.
“There’s not a reason why we should think (it would be a problem), but until it is done, we don’t know,” Strickland said.
County attorney Annette Chancy said Faison town attorney J. Garrett Ludlum “does not anticipate any bumps in the road, but would notify the county if he became aware of any.”
Sampson County previously purchased 260 acres of land close to I-40 and N.C. 403 and has 75 of those acres reserved for FibroCoast. The area rezoned does not involve the poultry waste-burning energy plant.
Last July, Swope invited a group of city, county and municipal officials to a special meeting to discuss an endeavor deemed “the I-40/I-95 Distribution-Logistics Project.” At that meeting, Swope said the county was looking at land adjacent to the FibroCoast plant at Exit 355, as well as at Exit 348, in an effort to attract a large distribution center.
At that point, Swope was mum about the prospect. Now, Swope said the Sampson County Economic Development Commission has concluded a comprehensive distribution project that has included analysis, documentation and marketing tools needed to be competitive in recruiting such a facility.
“The competition is ready with available sites and information, and we need to be there too,” Swope has said. “Whether import or export, we think we should be able to be in distribution. We need to better utilize I-40, and this is one of the ways to do it.”
On Thursday, Swope and others are expected to speak about the importance distribution facilities could hold in bringing tax revenue — along with jobs — to Sampson County. According to the recent study, a distribution center in Sampson could have the potential to employ 300 to 1,200 people with capital investments of $30 to $70 million.