Planning Commission right on rezoning

Published 7:50 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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Last week, the Southampton County Planning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning of 242.87 acres on Rose Valley Road from A-1 Agricultural to CM-2 Conditional General Industrial. The land, located approximately one-quarter mile from General Thomas Highway in the vicinity of the Enviva plant, has been identified in the county’s comprehensive plan as appropriate for industrial development for years.

The vote was not unanimous because, as always, there are some residents who are dead set against industrial development anywhere in Southampton County. We feel for the neighbors of this proposed industrial location, and understand that no one really wants such growth in their rural neighborhood. The reality, however, is that any development anywhere in the county is going to make somebody unhappy.

Franklin and Southampton County have struggled to land more economic development opportunities in recent years, specifically because neither locality has control over much land that is desirable by developers. This rezoning, if ultimately approved by the Board of Supervisors, will give our economic development teams another arrow in their quiver. And because the property owners have agreed to give the county an option to purchase the land if a developer is identified, there is little financial risk to the county.

We urge the Board of Supervisors to act on the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approve the rezoning at the earliest possible opportunity.