Town Council Wants Meeting With Commissioners Over Jail Site

Smithfield Mayor Pro Tem Emery Ashley led efforts Tuesday night to formally request a meeting between the Smithfield Town Council and Johnston County Board of Commissioners on the site of a new Johnston County Jail. The Town is concerned a proposed site on Buffalo Road is too close to two public schools, a charter school and the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. Photo

Members of the Smithfield Town Council say they want to meet with Johnston County Commissioners to discuss the future site of a new Johnston County Jail.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the council voted 5-0 to form a committee of council members who will meet with a committee of Johnston County Commissioners.

Mayor Pro Tem Emery Ashley made the motion to form the committee. It was quickly seconded by Councilman Perry Harris and approved. Council members Marlon Lee and Roger Wood were not in attendance last night.

“Because there has been so much ‘informal talk on the street’ and/or rumors, I felt we needed to make a formal request,” Mayor Pro Tem Ashley said after the meeting. “This decision is of great importance to the future of both Smithfield and the County.”

“We should work together. With the combined talents and insight of the Town and County officials, we can make the right decision. I know of no good reason why we would not or could not work together.  We will see how the County responds,” Ashley told WTSB News.

In November, commissioners voted 4-to-3 to obtain an option on a 68 acre tract of land at 1860 Buffalo Road for a future Public Safety Center. Since that time the site has been met with growing opposition.

According to an initial time line, a rezoning request should have been submitted to the town planning department in January. The rezoning would have gone before the planning board in February and the town council in March.  As of today, the rezoning request for the Buffalo Road parcel has not been filed.

The Selma Town Council is expected to adopt a resolution at their Feb. 14th meeting formally opposing the Buffalo Road location.  The Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce has also taken a stance against the proposed jail site.