The Greater Area Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced Friday they are taking a public position in opposition of a proposed new jail site on Buffalo Road just north of Booker Dairy Road in Smithfield.
“The Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce does not support the selection of the Buffalo Road site for a future Law Enforcement Center,” according to the statement emailed to WTSB News.
“The Chamber recognizes the need for an updated and expanded law enforcement center and appreciates the efforts to maximize efficiency; however, as a business membership organization, the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce is focused on positive economic growth and job creation in the greater Smithfield-Selma area. The proposed location of the Law Enforcement Center does not promote economic growth or job creation.”
“The close proximity to three schools, recreational facilities, shopping, and the new $1.8 billion Novo Nordisk expansion makes the Buffalo Road site highly suitable for upscale residential and/or retail use and highly unsuitable for use as a Law Enforcement Center. The Chamber encourages county and town leaders to review other sites, particularly those the county already owns, more suitable for a Law Enforcement Center.”
Chamber representatives will also appear before the Smithfield Town Council next Tuesday night to formally announce their opposition to city leaders.
The Smithfield-Selma Chamber represents over 450 businesses in the greater Smithfield and Selma areas.
On November 7th, Johnston County Commissioners voted 4-to-3 to purchase a 68 acre tract of land at 1860 Buffalo Road from businessman Frank Lee. Commissioners Allen Mims Jr., Jeff Carver and Ted Godwin voted against the purchase.
The county has agreed to pay $1,564,000 for the land, or $23,000 per acre for the property which is outside the Smithfield City Limits but within the Town of Smithfield’s ETJ planning jurisdiction. The deal is contingent upon the county obtaining the necessary rezoning from the Town and geotechnical studies to confirm the site is suitable.
Fifty-five acres of the tract is located on the west side of Buffalo Road. Thirteen acres is located on the east side of the highway.
County Manager Rick Hester said in November he anticipates it taking 6 to 8 months for the rezoning work and site testing to be completed before the next phase of the project can begin.