Clayton News-Star

Clayton drops nearly $1 million on land but doesn’t say what it’s for

As of late January, Clayton now owns this dusty field on Amelia Church Road next to the Amelia Station apartments. All town officials are saying is that recreation will likely go on the property, either sold to a developer or developed by the town itself.
As of late January, Clayton now owns this dusty field on Amelia Church Road next to the Amelia Station apartments. All town officials are saying is that recreation will likely go on the property, either sold to a developer or developed by the town itself. jdjackson@newsobserver.com

The Town of Clayton has bought a 19-acre tract off of Amelia Church Road but isn’t saying what the land is for.

The town closed on the deal at the end of January, paying $950,000, or $50,000 an acre, for the land, which is near the N.C. 42 intersection, across from Johnston Health.

The town will rezone the land from residential to office and institutional use. When planning board member Sarah Brooks asked why Clayton wasn’t tagging the land with a governmental zoning, planning director David DeYoung said other factors were at play.

“We are not sure we will own this property long term,” DeYoung said. “We only use the public facilities designation on property we know for sure that we’re going to develop. We wouldn’t want to grant that designation to a site that wasn’t going to be under our control long term. It may or may not, but right now the appropriate designation is office-institutional.”

DeYoung said the town is negotiating with an outside party to develop the land. Because of those talks, he declined to say what might go on the land.

“The town has recently purchased the parcel as part of an ongoing economic-development project,” DeYoung said. “Because we’re still in contract negotiations, we can’t release the details of that at this time. The purpose of this application is to rezone the property from residential estate to office-institutional to prepare that site for the economic-development initiative that’s moving forward.”

Lisa Price, representing Amelia Station apartments, which is next to the land Clayton bought, showed up to the February planning board meeting and asked what kind of neighbor might be going in next door. DeYoung suggested that ultimately, either through the outside party or the town itself, some kind of recreation would go on the land.

“Initial thoughts are any use of this property would probably be recreational in nature, but that’s as far as I can go on the conversation at this time,” DeYoung said.

Councilman Michael Grannis said the town would likely release more-specific plans in the next two to four months. But he said development could be a long ways off if Clayton doesn’t sell the property.

“There’s certainly a chance that it could be purchased by someone from us,” Grannis said. “If that were not to happen, it’s certainly possible that property could be used for some form of recreation, either active or passive. ... If we were to retain the land and not sell it, definitely a plan developed to make that some thing.”

“Of course, you know what our timelines are like,” Grannis said, pointing to Clayton’s slow development of its land along the Neuse River. Clayton has considered a major park plan for the property but would need to pass a bond referendum to fund it. Grannis said that while the town has owned the river property for four or five years, development is still two to four years off.

Grannis said Clayton had been working on the Amelia Church project for the past six months.

Drew Jackson; 919-603-4943; @jdrewjackson

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