Chatham Holds Hearings on Megasite Option Agreements Needed for Infrastructure Grants

CHATHAM COUNTY, NC –   The Chatham County Board of Commissioners has scheduled public hearings at the Historic Courthouse in Pittsboro on April 17, 2017 at 6 PM on proposed option agreements to purchase the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) and the Moncure megasites. The county would only purchase land under the options when one of the sites is selected by an industry.

In December 2016, both megasites received a total of $8 million in infrastructure extension grants from the Golden LEAF Major Site Development Initiative. However, Golden LEAF requires that the properties be under public control with a fixed price for five years. The options under consideration assure this requirement is met, while leveraging the county’s investment several times over.

ROI for optionsGolden LEAF awarded the Town of Siler City $4 million to extend water along US 64 for four miles to the CAM Site. Golden LEAF also awarded $4 million to the City of Sanford to extend sewer nine miles to the Moncure megasite. Both sites have been identified in the county’s draft Comprehensive Land Use Plan as major employment centers.

“We believe strongly that both of these are great sites that have the potential to attract a large manufacturer,” said Kyle Touchstone, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “However, if that doesn’t happen, we’ve improved infrastructure in the areas adjacent to the sites and that infrastructure will be in place whether we have a project or not.”

In both proposals, the county will have the option, but is not required, to purchase the property if a company chooses one of the megasites for development.  In 2016, the county entered into a one-year option agreement to purchase the CAM site property. That agreement expires at the end of June 2017. “The property owner has reinvested a significant portion of the first option payment back into the site for design of the 421 interchange,” said Touchstone.

For the proposed option for the CAM site, Chatham County would split the option cost with the Town of Siler City. Each entity would contribute $25,000 per year for up to five years. If the option is exercised during that term, no further payments will be required.

“In addition, any option payments would be credited to the purchase price. The county’s share of the option would be paid from the funds remaining from the sale of land in the Central Carolina Business Park in Siler City,” said County Manager Renee Paschal. Those proceeds were designated by the Board of Commissioners for economic development.

For the Moncure megasite proposal, Chatham County would pay just $1 for the option to purchase, but would agree to contribute half of the cost the sewer extension not covered by the Golden LEAF grant. This means that the Chatham County and the City of Sanford would each cover an estimated $3.4 million for the sewer system extension. 

Chatham’s share of the sewer line construction to the Moncure site will come from coal ash funds negotiated in mid-2015 with Duke Energy. The megasite’s property owner agreed to the $1 option so that the county could directs its funding to extending sewer.

The options for both megasites, if approved by the Board of Commissioners, would be set to expire June 1, 2022.

If the purchase option is exercised for either site, a financial model developed by the EDC with county review shows that the county can repay the cost of the land through additional taxes received from the new business investment. The EDC and County Manager’s Office will recommend a change in the county’s incentive policy stating that the land donation is part of an incentives package and will offset other incentives.

Only nine percent of Chatham County's tax base comes from industrial and commercial land uses, lower than neighboring counties. A large manufacturer could add hundreds of jobs and transform the tax base with its investment and offshoot businesses.

Drafts of the proposed option agreements are available for review on the county website (www.chathamnc.org).  Look for the dark green box at bottom of the page and select NEWS. A link to the drafts will be posted as a news item.

You also may contact the Chatham County Clerk to the Board of Commissioners at 919-542-8200 or email lindsay.ray@chathamnc.org to request a copy.

To learn more about both megasites, visit www.chathamedc.org.

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April 10, 2017
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