Sunday, October 2, 2022

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Mebane city council annexes land for future warehouse project, rezones for light industrial use

Mebane’s city council was unanimous in agreeing Monday night to annex almost 74 acres along West Ten Road and to rezone the property for light manufacturing in order to accommodate 900,000 of warehouse space.

All of the project is in Orange County and is beyond Mebane’s current municipal limits and its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The area is part of what Orange County has dubbed the Buckhorn Economic Development District and which that county has targeted for future industrial development and similar uses.

Williams Development Group has announced plans to build two large warehouses: one, at 300,000 square feet, will be on 27.6 acres on the eastern part of the property; a second one, at 600,000 square feet, would be situated on 46.4 acres on the western portion of the property, closer to Mebane.

Taylor Williams, one of the managers of Winston-Salem-based Williams Development Group, told the city’s planning board last month that his company traditionally builds both spec buildings, as well as “build-to-suit” tenants.  At present, he does not have specific tenants lined up for the two warehouses, he told the planning board – one at 600,000 square feet and a smaller one at 300,000 square feet.

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But Monday night, another company executive, Dixon Pitt, said the company is also holding open the possibility that a single tenant might ultimately be interested in a larger, single footprint – opening the possibility that a 900,00-square-foot facility might ultimately replace the two separate ones drawn on the company’s initial plans and submission to the city.

Pitt assured the council that even if the larger facility were to materialize, the company would maintain the wide buffer areas around the project.  Mebane typically requires 50-foot buffers, but the company has drawn plans with a minimum of 100 feet.

Pitt reiterated Williams’ earlier point that there is no “specific user yet.”  But he noted that usually the company has obtained a specific tenant by the time the project is completed and ready for occupancy.

There will be 5-foot sidewalks along West Ten Road, as well as landscape buffering, with three entrances into the facilities, one each into the individual warehouses and another that will serve as a joint entrance to both locations.

Much of the property fronts near I-85/40.

One Efland resident, Janine Zanin, acknowledged she was “fighting an uphill battle” in opposing the warehouse project – both its annexation and rezoning. .

She said that the warehouses would “turn West Ten Road into a trucking bypass.”

But Mebane’s council was unanimous, 5-0,  in both its decision to annex the property and to rezone it (from Orange County’s industrial designation) to the city’s light manufacturing designation.

Discussion confirmed that the company’s desire to be annexed and rezoned by Mebane would allow the company to get access to the city’s water and sewer lines, at preferential rates. (As with most cities, out-of-city residents and businesses must pay double the normal rates if they hook on to city utility lines.)

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