Mount Jackson approves mega site annexation
MOUNT JACKSON — Town officials voted unanimously to annex 576-acres of land owned by town resident Robert Whitehurst on Tuesday night.
Whitehurst proposed the annexation in February to be a part of a possible 712-acre industrial “mega site” that could be a business boon for the town and county.
The decision by council also included the annexation of an acre of land owned by county resident Jason Payne. His property is surrounded on three sides by Whitehurst’s land.
By annexing the land, Payne is looking to ensure connection with the utility services that would be brought to the town if the Whitehurst property is rezoned in the future.
Town Mayor J.G. “Bucky” Miller said that he hopes the annexation of Whitehurst’s property moves the town into positive growth moving forward.
“The town has the ability to say what comes in,” Miller said.
Many residents have voiced opposition about the idea of a “mega site” since it was first brought to council.
Concerns about the proposal have ranged from impacts and negative effects to the town’s rural, agricultural-based area to the site’s access to key infrastructure as well as Interstate 81.
On Tuesday, three residents voiced their opinions about the annexation, mostly concerning information on the site’s possible impact as well as the timing of the project.
County resident Jack Frady said, “I just ask that you slow down and do more complete studies.”
“I just hope that everybody slows down and realizes this isn’t just going to affect the town — it’s affecting the citizens in the county,” he said. “It will affect the whole county down the road.”
Mount Jackson resident Steve Stein questioned what research the town and the planning commission have done regarding impacts of the site.
Stein said, “I guess that the biggest thing is still the question mark on what’s the pros and the cons of doing the annexation?”
Councilman Roger Rudy said, “I, for one, am in agreement that we take the time and get that information and share it with the public, so that they know what we’re looking at as well.”
Councilwoman Whitney Miller said, “I would like to know more about how it’s going to affect the overall acreage and if that has an impact on assistance that we receive.”
Town Manager Kevin Fauber said following the meeting that the Planning Commission has had some initial discussions on the annexation’s impact to the town as well as its comprehensive master plan.
Fauber said that analyzing the potential impacts and performing studies are going to be the “really long process” in the mega site’s development.
“The planning commission wanted to see how the annexation was going to go through,” Fauber said.
Fauber added, “They’ll probably begin work at their September meeting, looking at the comprehensive plan and kind of laying out a foundation of how to move forward.”
Aside from the town’s comprehensive plan, the next step in the mega site’s development will be the eventual rezoning request from Whitehurst.
Fauber said, “It’s going to take some time to work through the update of the comprehensive plan, and we want to make sure that we do the right things and get the necessary studies so that an informed decision can be made.”
Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org