MOORESVILLE Some longtime residents along hill, two-lane N.C. 801 hope to sway town leaders against developing an industrial park on 476 vacant acres behind their homes. If they cant, said resident Mark Ridenhour, then they want the town to buy them out.
I wouldnt want to live there anymore, Ridenhour told the Mooresville Planning Board on Nov. 15.
I dont think anybody would want a home next to this, property owner Bob Keller said, citing the potential for soil and water contamination. Its just not fair.
Traffic already is a problem on formerly rural N.C. 801, said Kimberly Brown Uesarapu, whose elderly father lives along the road. Trucks pulling in and out of the park will make the road more hazardous, she said.
The planning board voted 5-0 to a recommendation that the Mooresville Board of Commissioners approve a rezoning that would allow for the park. I dont like it either, but we are to represent all the citizens, who will come out better because so many people are out of work, planning board member Danny Martin told the residents. It has to go somewhere.
The planning board also recommended that the town consider buying out the homes of residents who no longer want to live along N.C. 801 because of the park.
The Mooresville Board of Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing on the rezoning at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at Town Hall, 413 N. Main St. Commissioners, who have final say, could vote on the rezoning the same night.
The proposed park is about four miles east of Interstate 77s Exit 36 and a mile north of N.C. 150 East.
Plans for the park advanced recently when the nonprofit South Iredell Community Development Corp. negotiated a contract to buy the 476 acres from Charlotte developer Forest City Southeast. Until the economy softened, Forest City had planned to build a subdivision of at least 1,000 homes there called Cotton Creek.
The Mooresville Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 on Nov. 5 to loan South Iredell Community Development Corp. $2 million toward the $5 million purchase of the land. The $2 million will be the down payment on the purchase. South Iredell Community Development Corp. buys land on behalf of the town to further economic development.
The nonprofit also obtained about $3.2 million in financing from a local consortium of banks. The amount includes up to $125,000 for expenses associated with buying and financing the property.
By this time next year, the first phase of the as-yet-unnamed park is expected to have water, sewer and roads in place for industrial prospects, said Robert Carney Jr., executive director of the nonprofit Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corp., which recruits industry on behalf of the town. The first phase will include 200 to 250 acres, he said.
Carney said the timing is right for the park because Mooresville Business Park and South Iredell Industrial Park on Mazeppa Road are full.
Among other major employers, South Iredell Industrial Park houses Japan-based NGK Automotive Ceramics. Mooresville Business Park includes Cardinal Glass Industries, Penske Racing South, Carolina Beer and Beverage, Niagara Bottling, Pactiv Corp. and Toyo Seal America.
The new park has more acreage that can be developed than the other two parks. Long-range plans for the park call for adding rail access, which the other parks also have, Carney said.
As part of the economic development agreement that commissioners approved Nov. 5, the town also will pay the expected $695,000 in annual principal and interest on the bank consortium loan for the five years the loan is outstanding.
South Iredell Community Development Corp. will pay the town 75 percent of the final gross sales price of each parcel sold in the park, until the town recoups all of the money it put into helping pay for the land, according to the agreement.
Commissioner Rhett Dusenbury voted against the agreement, saying: My philosophy of government is, taxpayers arent bankers.
Carney, Mayor Miles Atkins and Ron Johnson, chairman of the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corp., said the arrangement is similar to the one that started Mooresville Business Park in the late 1980s. Theres already a track record, Carney said.
I dont know how else you create jobs without this, Atkins said on a recent tour of the property with Carney and Johnson. A farmer grows soybeans on part of the acreage under contract with Forest City.
Carney said he intends to meet soon with concerned residents. He said traffic wont be the issue residents fear, because trucks will access the proposed park via Mooresville Business Park just across N.C. 801.
Towns without much industry start to become more of a local service economy, a bedroom community to Charlotte, Carney said in a recent interview. Parks like this make us an employment center.