City taking back part of sold property

By Tom Joyce -

After selling industrial park property to aid the expansion of a local industry in May, Mount Airy officials are taking back part of the land.

This does not involve a case of seller’s remorse or repossession, but an unusual situation involving the presence of a flood zone on a small section of the property in Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park off U.S. 601.

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners had agreed to sell a 44-acre tract in the city-owned industrial park to Steel Buildings and Structures Inc. on May 3. The company, which launched operations on Reeves Drive in 2015, sought the property for an expansion to meet an increasing demand for its products.

Its plans included constructing at least two 40,000-square-foot buildings and providing more than 100 jobs.

“Everything closed, everything went fine,” City Attorney Hugh Campbell said Thursday night of the transaction — until the company approached a lender to obtain financing for the construction.

This was accompanied by a discovery that about 1.4 acres of the 44-acre total is located in a floodplain, Campbell explained Thursday night when the commissioners were briefed on that development, which presented a large problem for the company’s owner.

“It’s unusable land,” the city attorney said of the property located within a riparian buffer along Turners Creek.

“Even though the building would be far from that location, because the floodplain touches the property, he (the owner) would be required to have flood insurance for the duration of his loan,” Campbell said.

“It just makes no sense,” the city attorney added regarding the land dilemma facing the owner. “He’s stuck with it unless an adjoining property owner will take it back.”

However, a solution was offered by Surry Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker and Martin Collins, city community development director. They recommended that the small section of land be conveyed back to the municipality, as an adjoining property owner, to eliminate the need for flood insurance.

“It will not cost the city any money,” Tucker assured. “It will just be added back to the larger parcel that the city already owns as part of the park.”

The commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the property, which the economic-development official said will speed up the expansion project and make it more cost-effective for the company.

Campbell described the move as “a good business practice” that will save the owner much money over the life of his mortgage.

Appearance group changes

Also Thursday night, the city commissioners appointed two new members to the Mount Airy Appearance Commission and approved a new term for an existing member.

Andrew Barlow and Mary Lou Allred were each appointed to the commission for a three-year term that will expire on June 30, 2021.

Barlow has worked in retail management for various companies during the past 10 years and lists gardening among his hobbies.

Allred retired in March 2017 from a nursing career spanning 43 years, mostly in administration, and also is a longtime gardening enthusiast.

Barlow and Allred are replacing Joy Barlow and Ann Yokeley on the Mount Airy Appearance Commission. Their terms expire Saturday and neither is eligible for reappointment.

Meanwhile, Brooke Lowry’s term also expires this month and she is eligible for reappointment and has expressed interest in continuing to serve. Lowry was approved for another three years, to June 30, 2021.

Flood zone issue cited

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.