County To Pay $20,000 Per Acre For New Jail Site

Johnston County Commissioners agreed on Monday to pay $20,000 per acre for 25.39 acres, or $507,800, for the future home of a Public Safety Center just east of I-95 in Smithfield.

WTSB News first reported on Friday the land is actually 3 separate parcels at the intersection of US 70 Business East at Yelverton Grove Road and next to East Coast Equipment, a John Deere dealership. The site is also near the Central Office for Johnston County Schools.

The largest tract is approximately 17 acres and is the proposed future site of a new county jail and future home for the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.   The jail and sheriff’s office would likely be built at separate times but the tract of land is large enough to accommodate both facilities.

The land is currently owned by Jane P Smith Trust of Goldsboro.

The County has paid $5,000 for an option to buy the land no later than September 5, 2018.


A portion of the property is within the ETJ of the Town of Smithfield, meaning the Smithfield Town Council will have to approve the rezoning of the property within their jurisdiction for a public safety complex.

Stephen Wensman, Planning Director for the Town of Smithfield said if rezoning was requested by the County of Johnston, it would first go before the Smithfield Planning Board.  Afterwards it would go before the Smithfield Town Council.   It is a 2 to 3 months process.

In November 2016, Johnston County Commissioners voted 4-to-3 to purchase 68 acres at 1680 Buffalo Road, also at a price of $23,000 per acre, 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.