First Posted: 3/16/2009
DOBSON After listening to more than two hours of opposition from residents on rezoning land near Elkin off to N.C. 268, Surry County commissioners voted unanimously last night to rezone the land from Rural Agricultural (RA) to Manufacturing Industrial (MI).
More than 70 people jammed into the commissioners meeting room with more residents standing in the hall listening to a public hearing on rezoning the land which includes 117 acres adjacent to the Yadkin Valley Railroad tracks and the Yadkin River. The land also sits between Wayne Poultry of North Carolina Inc. Feed Mill, at 10949 N.C. 268, and Friendship Speedway, at 11420 N.C. 268.
Chairman Craig Hunter warned the crowd preceding the public hearing that no specific industry would be allowed to be discussed and those speaking should keep comments to three minutes. Out of 24 speakers, 23 were in opposition to rezoning the land, which is thought to be earmarked for a Fibrowatt biofuel power plant. The company incinerates chicken litter and other organic material to produce power.
Ray McCreary spoke first. They say that they are opposed to this, but they do not speak for me. I am in favor of this. Im an outsider, I came here in 1969. I do support a change in the zoning, McCreary said.
Most of those who spoke in opposition were from the State Road area of the county. Topping their list of concerns were adding trucks to the already heavily-traveled N.C. 268, the environmental and health risks, quality of life and economic development.
Dr. Bill Blackley said he came to speak on behalf of the physicians in and around the Elkin area. He told commissioners that the creation of dioxin and the increase levels of nitrous oxide were of serious concern to him and others. He asked commissioners to do their environmental due diligence before deciding to rezone the property.
Hunter asked Blackley, Do you think that North Carolina regulates dioxins? Ill tell you that there wouldnt be a car on the road right now if North Carolina didnt regulate pollution.
Commissioner Jim Harrell Jr., who is the Elkin representative on the board, spoke to the group following the public hearing.
I think this a good place to put industry in Elkin. This company had come along after we had already identified the land. We had not purchased it at that time. There is already a power station there. Theres a water tower there, and then of course it is right in the middle of five other industries. Unless you think we can do without industry at all I would probably take issue with that. I think the tax base and the jobs for people that we are trying to provide are whats most important. We are told that we have a minimum of 14 percent unemployment right now. We are trying like heck to get these people jobs. They need them, and they deserve them. We cant wait for some other things, Harrell said.
Many in opposition said that the wine industry and tourism would be affected by the change in the landscape along the Yadkin River.
This board has been very proactive in providing recreation. Weve created bike trails around the county. Nobody has been pushing tourism better than us. But Im telling you, I think we have a lot of people out there who need jobs and weve got to put them somewhere. Think to yourself, as I have, where would you put those jobs? To me, this is an ideal place. I am in favor of rezoning this property so that we have property to show industrial prospects that are coming, a lot of them you would be willing to meet with open arms, and they want to know where you want to put them, Harrell concluded.
When it came down to the vote to rezone, Commissioner Paul Johnson made the motion for approval, and it was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Miller. The rezoning was approved 5-0.
There is a Community Public Hearing on scheduled for March 26 to discuss any issue citizens feel are important. It was originally scheduled to be held in the commissioners meeting room, suite 329 at the Surry County Government Center, but Harrell asked if a larger venue could be arranged before that meeting. Commissioners agreed to find a larger venue and to make that public before the meeting.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.