Neighbors band together to fight effort
Linda Leonard’s family has owned 111 acres inside the proposed Greensboro-Liberty Megasite footprint in northeast Randolph County since 1836.
Other than a house in which she and her husband live, the property is mostly unspoiled farmland.
Leonard said she would like it to stay this way.
“We modernized the house 30 years ago. Our children would like very much to come back later, too,” Leonard said.
She and her husband are members of the Northeast Randolph Property Owners group, which opposes the megasite. The group has mounted a public awareness campaign, with “No Megasite Here” signs dotting properties near the proposed site.
They’ve launched a website, lobbied public officials and come out in force to public meetings to make their case that an auto plant would ruin their quality of life and come only at great taxpayer expense, when there are other sites far better suited for large-scale industry.
They’re not opposed to economic development and agree that the region needs jobs, they’re quick to point out.
They add that there is another potential site about 12 miles away in Chatham County, where developers are assembling up to 1,500 acres to market for industrial use that would be a better location, in their view.
Plus, they argue that there is ample vacant industrial land all over the Triad that already is served by utilities and closer to the area’s existing work force.
The group also has raised concerns about the transparency of the project, saying they found out about the megasite concept indirectly, after much investigation on their part.
They say they wish local leaders had told them up front what was going on. But when it comes to land acquisition and other facets of trying to lure a new company, governments are allowed by law to deal with economic development issues in closed session.
Randolph County Commissioner Darrell Frye has met with the group to try to address their concerns.
“I support some of their arguments,” he said.
Frye added that he has many of the same unanswered questions about the project as the property owners.
“The (U.S.) 421 corridor — that’s not (Interstate) 85. Does that meet the standards? Is it close enough to the airport?” he said. “Some have said it’s more likely to become an industrial park or a project with three to four medium- to larger-type companies that might employ 200 to 300 people each. So there are just lot of issues to be addressed.”