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Supervisors split on Woodlawn transfer to IDA

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By Shaina Stockton

HILLSVILLE - The Carroll County Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 to approve the transfer of Woodlawn School to the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) at the board’s June 9 meeting.
Preceding the board’s vote was a public hearing. While no citizens came forward to speak, board members were vocal about both their support and opposition of the plan.
 “I really should have brought this up last month, but I have concerns about [the school] going to the IDA,” said Laurel Fork Supervisor Joshua Hendrick.

He explained to the board that, through discussions of the different projects at and uses of the school that he’d heard, none of them sounded “industrial” in scale — meaning something the IDA would oversee — but instead were centered on community development.
“There is still a large interest and a need, in my opinion, for the ball field and the gym to be associated, run and directed by the county, whether it be the rec department or the school system,” Hendrick said. “The county is putting about $200,000 into it this year, and I”m going to probably assume that the IDA is not going to be able to maintain the building at that level to where it could still be used.”
Hendrick noted that he would like to explore other options, unless there was something specific that the IDA had planned that the county could not do at this time.
“Would that transfer preclude the things that Mr. Hendrick just talked about?” asked Board Chairman David Hutchins.
County Administrator Gary Larrowe assured the board that the IDA has discussed the need for the gym and the fields that on the Woodlawn school grounds. “That would not stop the usage of that. Anything that the IDA did would encourage that,” he said.
Larrowe added that there are other examples of the IDA working with businesses that are not necessarily industrial. “This is not breaking new ground,” he said.
Supervisor At-Large Sam Dickson agreed with Hendrick’s statement. “I believe we need to keep it. When we get to a point when we might feel it needs to be sold or moved, we could transfer it then. But we haven’t really looked at other possibilities of the rec department, in how it could be used,” he said.
“Aren’t most all, if not all, county properties owned by the IDA?” asked Pipers Gap Supervisor Tom Littrell.
“The building we are in right now is owned by the IDA,” said Larrowe, referring to the county government building.
“As far as the policing of the gym building and all that, which is still with the rec department… why give it to the IDA if the rec department is going to keep up with that?” asked Littrell.
“That’s the prerogative of the board,” the county administrator replied.
“I don’t see the point to transfer it if the rec department is going to be the spot that is primarily using it,” said Pine Creek Supervisor Bob Martin. “It would probably take about 15 minutes to make a motion and transfer it if some industry or something wants to buy it.”
“Would we have to have another public hearing?” Hutchins asked County Attorney Jim Cornwell.
“We would have to advertise a public hearing for the transfer of real estate,” Cornwell confirmed.
“That’s what I thought,” said Hutchins. “But on the other hand, I don’t see an issue if you do transfer it. If we needed to do something different, then they could transfer it back much easier than we could transfer it to them. And if it’s there, then we would not have to redo another public hearing.
“I’m in absolute agreement with Mr. Dickson and Mr. Hendrick both, that I think we do need to retain use of the gym and all fields,” Hutchins said.
“I guess I don’t see that changing. However, I think those on the budget committee will agree, we will need to find some funding source to help. And that would allow the IDA to look for something for that.”
“I agree that we absolutely need to be able to retain control of the gym and the ball field. But I think we can do that even if we transfer this to the IDA, because we’ve done that in the past,” said Fancy Gap Supervisor Phil McCraw. He made a motion that the county move forward with the transfer.
Littrell seconded the motion, and Hutchins asked if there were any further discussions or comments.
“We have a good working relationship with the IDA. My concern was with the rec department and being able to continue using parts of the building and the field,” said Martin.
“I think that would continue to happen,” said Hutchins.
With no further discussions, the motion passed 4-2, with opposing votes from Dickson and Hendrick.