Split vote decides property purchase

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

GATESVILLE – Unlike previous meetings, there wasn’t any discussion among the Gates County Board of Commissioners at their meeting here Feb. 16 regarding the purchase of what once was the Merchants Commerce Center.

This time around, the action was limited to voting yes or no on a motion to approve the purchase of 145 acres located along US 158 in the general area of the high school.

On a motion from Commissioner Linda Hofler and a second from Commissioner Jack Owens to approve the measure, the ensuing vote was 3-2 in favor.

Commission Chair Dr. Althea Riddick joined Hofler and Owens in casting “yes” votes. Commissioners Ray Freeman and Jonathan Craddock opposed the purchase.

The outcome sparked a brief outcry from citizens seated in the courtroom. That prompted Riddick to strike the gavel to bring the meeting back to order.

Later in the meeting, during Commissioner Comments, Craddock stated he wasn’t opposed to economic development in the county, but, “it needs to come with a full scale plan,” he noted.

At their October 2021 meeting, the commissioners held a public hearing regarding a proposal to purchase that land for the purpose of economic development. The 145 acres currently up for sale is owned by Briarwood Forest Products, Inc. The asking price is $600,000.

During the public hearing, the majority of citizens who spoke were not in favor of the land purchase.

The measure was on the agenda at the board’s January meeting, but was tabled after another lengthy discussion by the commissioners.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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