County Commissioners Approve 25 Acre Land Purchase

Johnston County Commissioners will pay $20,000 per acre for 25.39 acres of land for the future home of a Public Safety Center just east of I-95 in Smithfield.

The land is located near the intersection of US70 Business east and Yelverton Grove Road.  Officials have had an option on the land since March 2018.

The Smithfield Town Council recently approved a rezoning request and the county has completed a geotechnical survey of the site.

After receiving an updated report this month from Moseley Architects on the project,  Commissioners voted Dec. 3rd to purchase the land at $507,800.  The board also agreed to fund the site design, which will include a new 400-bed county jail that will be capable of expanding in the future to 600-beds.  Money for the land purchase and site design will come from the current budget.

The new facility is expected to open in early-2022.

Commissioner Chairman Ted Godwin said, “We needed it yesterday.”

The current jail was designed to house 191 inmates but the county has an average daily inmate population of 275.  The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office will spend about $1 million this year to house inmates in neighboring county jail facilities.

Once opened, the new 400 bed facility should accommodate the growing jail population for the next 10 to 15 years before the 200 bed expansion is required.

The cost of the land and design will be paid for out of the current fiscal year budget and will not require a loan.  A 2017 report estimates the cost of the jail at $36 million, money the county will likely have to borrow.