Opposition to proposed megasite near Randolph, Guilford county line

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- A megasite proposed for industrial development near the Guilford and Randolph County lines is getting attention from state leaders.

Piedmont economic developers asked the state for millions of dollars to help make the land attractive to a potential automobile manufacturer or industrial company.

The legislature did not pass an economic development package this session that included money for projects like the potential megasite off 421 near Liberty. Governor McCrory could still ask legislators to reconvene to consider the package.

The megasite proposal has gotten pushback from local landowners. Alan Ferguson is the President of Northeast Randolph Property Owners, a corporation that has developed into a megasite opposition group.

The group's red signs reading "No Megasite Here" dot the landscape and various properties around the potential site.

"This is agricultural land. It's land where some families have been on it for 200 years," Ferguson explained. "We are nowhere near giving in to any of it."

It's not just the legacy of the land. After all, Ferguson pointed out everyone has his price.

But while some property owners agreed to sell, many do not believe they've been offered a fair price when compared to similar sites in the Southeast.

"You've got a big gap between what's being offered [in Liberty] and what we know land is worth in other places."

Ferguson said property owners were offered 2.5 times tax value, equaling about $10-12,000 per acre.

"The BMW plant they talk about all the time as being a big success sold for up to $42,000 per acre," Ferguson said.

The proposed site was originally a two thousand acre area, and Ferguson says it's been scaled down to about 1,200-1,300 acres.

"Because it has no user, and because it has no money, we call it a field of dreams," he added.

Supporters of the megasite say if an auto manufacturer came to town, it would bring over a thousand jobs and immediate development.

Ferguson questioned, "Which company is it that's going to provide the jobs? In other words, where's the meat? The answer to that is there's not one yet."

Members of his group are also concerned with where a large workforce for such manufacturing would come from.

FOX8 reached out to leaders involved in promoting the megasite, but none were available for an interview Wednesday or Thursday.

Duke Energy did respond to FOX8. Spokesperson Lisa Parrish explained, "We believe the Liberty property has tremendous possibilities for industrial development. We are working with leaders in the Triad to assess the site so it can be considered for development. New industry has a unique multiplying effect on the economy of the region."

Ferguson also pointed to a certified megasite not far away in Chatham County, saying it has not landed a company yet.

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