Annexation recommended to city council for 48 acres

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lewisburg ought to annex the 48 acres it bought for $225,000, according to a recommendation from the city's Industrial Development Board.

Meanwhile, Terry Wallace, the city's industrial recruiter has been talking with a prospective employer who might move here and who's been looking at buildings and property.

Wallace anticipates acceptance of the IDB's recommendation for annexation of the land the city purchased from Ralph Harder. The Council decided to buy the land as a result of a 3-2 vote on Feb. 10. The purchase was with financial assistance from the Board in the amount of $150,000.

Wallace and City Manager Eddie Fuller gave reasons for the annexation.

"If it's in the city, it makes us eligible for Community Development Block Grants" from the federal government, Wallace said. "The land has to be in the Business Park before we can apply for those funds."

Fuller noted another financial reason: The property was purchased for resale to virtually any prospective employer, so when it's transferred o the business it becomes subject to property taxes.

IDB Chairman Eddie Wiles said the board voted early Monday afternoon "to approach the city about annexing the Harder property into the city and have it zoned the same as the current business park.

"Terry (Wallace) will take that to the Council next Tuesday," Wiles said.

An ordinance to annex the 46 acres and zone it for the business park classification is scheduled for consideration on Tuesday when the Council meets in City Hall at 6 p.m. Annexation ordinances are adopted after three successful votes with each during a separate meeting.

Adding more land to the Business Park just off Mooresville Highway has been seen as a constructive step toward making Lewisburg more attractive to prospective businesses that could employ more local residents.

Wallace had explained that when industrial prospects visit a municipality, their representatives are frequently looking for parcels of land that are ready for construction, therefore, more land was needed at the Business Park.

Also Monday at the IDB meeting, "Terry reported he had one prospect for which he had to sign a confidentiality agreement," Wiles said.

It's not unusual for a business to want its plans to be kept secret until a decision is made and so industrial recruiters are sometimes asked to sign a confidentiality agreement to not disclose who's considering a town as it's next location.

"That's always encouraging because that's more serious than someone just making a phone call," Wiles said. "Hopefully it's going to be something positive for us."

Wallace agreed it seems promising, but explained, "I'm working with a consultant. I don't know how many jobs or what kind of business, but it's a pretty good sign that someone's looking. They're also looking at buildings."

The conversations began about two to three weeks ago and the consultant had scouted Lewisburg before contacting Wallace, the industrial recruiter said.