County Extends Land Option On Proposed Public Safety Center Site

Rezoning Request Could Go Before Smithfield Town Council Before End Of Year

Johnston County Commissioners received their final due diligence report on the proposed site of a new Public Safety Center on Tuesday. Commissioners are looking at building a new county jail on a 25.3 acre site on US 70 Business at Yelverton Grove Road just east of I-95.

Representatives from McGill Associates told commissioners that subsurface soil tests revealed approximately 3 feet of undercut would be required at all buildings and driveways to support the structures.  The removal and replacement of the soil would add about $650,000 to the total cost.   There were no environmental concerns on the property other than previously identified wetlands at the rear of the site.  A survey also revealed no encroachments on the land.

In April 2018, the County paid $5,000 for an option on the site.  The option was set to expire Wednesday according to County Manager Rick Hester, but was be renewed with the owner, Jane P Smith Trust of Goldsboro.  The contract has set the purchase price at $20,000 an acre or $507,800.

The County will now move forward with the required rezoning process with the Town of Smithfield.   The rezoning request would go before the Smithfield Planning Board first then go before the Smithfield Town Council as early as their December or January meeting.  If approved, the county would begin design work on the facility in early-2019 and construction would likely begin by the end of 2019.  It would then take about 2 years to complete.

The site includes 3 separate parcels at US 70 and Yelverton Grove Road. The main 17 acre site is the proposed location of the $40 million Public Safety Center, or jail.  After the jail is completed in phase one, additional phases could include the construction of a new Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services building.

The McGill Associates report said the Town of Smithfield was not interested in satellite annexing the property but would provide water and sewer service to the Public Safety Center with out-of-town rates.  The Town of Smithfield would not be able to provide adequate water pressure for fire protection at the jail site but the County would be able to install a nearby booster pump station to provide sufficient water pressure to meet requirements for sprinklers and hydrants.

The McGill report said the NC DOT will require a left turn lane on US 70 into the Public Safety Center. No improvements are currently proposed on Yelverton Grove Road.

In November 2016, Johnston County Commissioners voted 4-to-3 to purchase 68 acres at 1680 Buffalo Road for a new jail complex.  The location was immediately met with opposition from Smithfield and Selma town leaders, the Smithfield Selma Chamber and nearby residents, in part because of the proximity to three schools.  The county never exercised their option on the Buffalo Road land.