• 48°

Depot Street land rezoned for feed mill

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

About an acre of land at the base of East Depot Street was rezoned from town center to special purpose by members of the Mocksville Town Board at their monthly meeting last week.

Wayne Farms, which purchased the adjacent former J.P. Green Milling Co., requested the change to make the chicken feed plant more efficient and more appealing to neighbors. The rezoned property is the site of the former Martin Brothers Hardware.

The move came after several people speaking for neighbors asked the board to delay its decision for a third time – this time to get commitments from the company that they would be good neighbors and contribute to the community.

“That mill can function now,” said board member Brian Williams, because the J.P. Green part of the property is already zoned special purpose, which allows for more obnoxious side effects such as dust, smell and noise. Wayne Farms representatives said the rezoning will allow it to operate with fewer of those unwanted traits. “They could start that mill without us taking any action,” Williams said.

He also pointed out that the renderings of the property show a much nicer look with more buffers and off-street parking should the rezoning be granted.

Williams said delaying the decision would accomplish nothing.

Board member Amy Vaughan-Jones made a motion to deny the rezoning. It died for a lack of a second. Board member Justin Draughn made the motion to rezone the property, which passed 3-1, with Williams and Rob Taylor joining in the yes votes. Vaughan-Jones voted against it. Board member Eric Southern was not at the meeting.

Sharon Anderson of the Davie NAACP political action committee said a delay was needed to work out exactly what Wayne Farms would do for the community.

Mayor Will Marklin said the board is not allowed to negotiate with the company on a rezoning request, or require it to support the community before granting the rezoning. “The community is benefitting from a functioning business,” Marklin said.

The public hearing, continued from August, opened with people speaking against the rezoning.

Eleanor Brown, who grew up next to the mill, said those companies there traditionally supported the community, donating to local churches, sending flowers to funerals “… all the things that neighbors do.” She also said the property is too close to downtown, where smells from the operation could reach. She had visited a Wayne Farms site in Dobson and said there is a definite obnoxious odor. “I do not feel that we want that on Depot Street.”

She said tourism could be harmed, as people love coming to Downtown Mocksville, especially at Christmas time. “I don’t want anything to disrupt that.”

Fred Terry, pastor of nearby  Second Presbyterian, said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Wayne Farms wants to do the right thing, but I still have some concerns.” The church had hosted a meeting between Wayne Farms and those in opposition to the zoning change. He questioned directional lighting, stormwater runoff and noise.

Alice Brown asked for a delay to come up with a written community benefits agreement. “You would have to be here and know our history, and I would like our history to be appreciated.” That was more likely with a locally-owned company, she said.

“It kind of scares me,” said Ed Dimmig, “going from one extreme to the other. It’s going to increase the trucks.”

Robin Mason spoke in favor of the rezoning. President of Crotts Family Farm, she said it would give local farmers a place to sell grain they produce. The multi-generation farm has always sold grain in Mocksville, she said. “Farms are a vital part of our community. Wayne Farms will be a vital resource … where the town and county can benefit from our harvest.”

Attorney Jody Cooley spoke on behalf of Wayne Farms, and said the company tried to answer all resident questions at the community meeting. The rezoning will make the property more appealing, as well as more efficient, he said.

“We will be a vital member of the community, and we will be available for conversations. We hope we will continue to be responsive to concerns. We want a continued conversation with the community.”

Part of the issue deals with the fact that environmental studies would not be done until the property is rezoned, and when the state environmental department considers operating permits.

He said it takes 30,000 acres of corn to supply a feed mill for one year.

Vaughan-Jones said she was confused by the special purpose rezoning, which Town Attorney Al Benshoff said is different from a special use permit, where restrictions could be put on the property.

The rezoning, Cooley said, would allow for the construction of a grain storage silo, where it would remain until sent to the mill to be mixed with barley and soy to make chicken feed. Traffic and parking both would be better, he said. “All of that is necessary to efficiently operate the mill.”

Cooley said that much of the dust that neighbors are concerned about is generated by the adjacent concrete plant.

Vaughan-Jones said she didn’t see how another 30-day delay could hurt the project.

“We believe we have answered the questions that have been asked,” Cooley said. “This company has an immediate need for a feed mill.”

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

About an acre of land at the base of East Depot Street was rezoned from town center to special purpose by members of the Mocksville Town Board at their monthly meeting last week.

Wayne Farms, which purchased the adjacent former J.P. Green Milling Co., requested the change to make the chicken feed plant more efficient and more appealing to neighbors. The rezoned property is the site of the former Martin Brothers Hardware.

The move came after several people speaking for neighbors asked the board to delay its decision for a third time – this time to get commitments from the company that they would be good neighbors and contribute to the community.

“That mill can function now,” said board member Brian Williams, because the J.P. Green part of the property is already zoned special purpose, which allows for more obnoxious side effects such as dust, smell and noise. Wayne Farms representatives said the rezoning will allow it to operate with fewer of those unwanted traits. “They could start that mill without us taking any action,” Williams said.

He also pointed out that the renderings of the property show a much nicer look with more buffers and off-street parking should the rezoning be granted.

Williams said delaying the decision would accomplish nothing.

Board member Amy Vaughan-Jones made a motion to deny the rezoning. It died for a lack of a second. Board member Justin Draughn made the motion to rezone the property, which passed 3-1, with Williams and Rob Taylor joining in the yes votes. Vaughan-Jones voted against it. Board member Eric Southern was not at the meeting.

Sharon Anderson of the Davie NAACP political action committee said a delay was needed to work out exactly what Wayne Farms would do for the community.

Mayor Will Marklin said the board is not allowed to negotiate with the company on a rezoning request, or require it to support the community before granting the rezoning. “The community is benefitting from a functioning business,” Marklin said.

The public hearing, continued from August, opened with people speaking against the rezoning.

Eleanor Brown, who grew up next to the mill, said those companies there traditionally supported the community, donating to local churches, sending flowers to funerals “… all the things that neighbors do.” She also said the property is too close to downtown, where smells from the operation could reach. She had visited a Wayne Farms site in Dobson and said there is a definite obnoxious odor. “I do not feel that we want that on Depot Street.”

She said tourism could be harmed, as people love coming to Downtown Mocksville, especially at Christmas time. “I don’t want anything to disrupt that.”

Fred Terry, pastor of nearby  Second Presbyterian, said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Wayne Farms wants to do the right thing, but I still have some concerns.” The church had hosted a meeting between Wayne Farms and those in opposition to the zoning change. He questioned directional lighting, stormwater runoff and noise.

Alice Brown asked for a delay to come up with a written community benefits agreement. “You would have to be here and know our history, and I would like our history to be appreciated.” That was more likely with a locally-owned company, she said.

“It kind of scares me,” said Ed Dimmig, “going from one extreme to the other. It’s going to increase the trucks.”

Robin Mason spoke in favor of the rezoning. President of Crotts Family Farm, she said it would give local farmers a place to sell grain they produce. The multi-generation farm has always sold grain in Mocksville, she said. “Farms are a vital part of our community. Wayne Farms will be a vital resource … where the town and county can benefit from our harvest.”

Attorney Jody Cooley spoke on behalf of Wayne Farms, and said the company tried to answer all resident questions at the community meeting. The rezoning will make the property more appealing, as well as more efficient, he said.

“We will be a vital member of the community, and we will be available for conversations. We hope we will continue to be responsive to concerns. We want a continued conversation with the community.”

Part of the issue deals with the fact that environmental studies would not be done until the property is rezoned, and when the state environmental department considers operating permits.

He said it takes 30,000 acres of corn to supply a feed mill for one year.

Vaughan-Jones said she was confused by the special purpose rezoning, which Town Attorney Al Benshoff said is different from a special use permit, where restrictions could be put on the property.

The rezoning, Cooley said, would allow for the construction of a grain storage silo, where it would remain until sent to the mill to be mixed with barley and soy to make chicken feed. Traffic and parking both would be better, he said. “All of that is necessary to efficiently operate the mill.”

Cooley said that much of the dust that neighbors are concerned about is generated by the adjacent concrete plant.

Vaughan-Jones said she didn’t see how another 30-day delay could hurt the project.

“We believe we have answered the questions that have been asked,” Cooley said. “This company has an immediate need for a feed mill.”