by Sam Hieb
The N&R does a little digging into efforts by local economic developers to transform more than 2,000 acres of farmland into a megasite that could attract a “game changing” auto plant. Problem is they didn’t inform any the land owners about their plans:
And there’s a problem that could prove insurmountable: Many of the 67 families or individuals who own the megasite’s properties don’t want to sell.
Alan Ferguson is one of them.
Ferguson is the informal leader of Northeast Randolph Property Owners.
They represent the majority of the site’s property owners, and their message is simple: An auto plant would ruin the beauty of the land and the rural lifestyle they have cherished for generations.
Ferguson, a lawyer who lives near the project, said that after he and the group read reports and studies for the site last week, they became particularly angry that officials had spent months drawing up a detailed plan to develop it — but had claimed ignorance earlier this year in meetings with neighbors.
“All of the folks we had talked to knew all about this, and nobody had said anything specifically about these things — just that it was a project of the Piedmont Triad Partnership,” he said.
Note in the sidebar that the N&R will follow up in Sunday’s edition with another article stating the landowners’ position. Hopefully the article will provide answers to this teaser:
Tentative deals have been made to secure 741 acres from two groups of landowners across the core of the site.
One document lays out a plan to secure much of the remaining land.
The memo is clear the group intends to respect the rights and concerns of all landowners.
R. David Joseph, a local attorney who represents Alpath Capital — founded by the Piedmont Triad Partnership — wrote a detailed memo describing the approach.
“The Team has endeavored to work efficiently and discretely as the circumstances dictate and demand,” he wrote.
Joseph did not return a call seeking comment.
It will be interesting to see the details of such a plan. The amount of money proposed to lure an auto plant is staggering: $400 million in state and local incentives, including $52 million budget to prepare the site, which (I assume) includes the projected $19 million from the City of Greensboro to run water and sewer to the site.