After weeks of stiff opposition from hundreds of people residing in the county, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed rezoning of 192 acres of farmland near Madison for commercial usage. Commissioners explained that the development of the land has been in the works for years. But residents are worried that a casino could be established on the land, which is not appropriate due to its proximity to a camp for children with special needs.
Hundreds of Rockingham residents and people from nearby counties attended the Commission’s meeting, which took place on Monday evening, in order to express their opinions and concerns regarding the rezoning of 192 acres off of US 220. Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page and former US Congressman and Republican candidate running for North Carolina governor Mark Walker were among the people who opposed the rezoning of the land.
Many people who spoke during the meeting raised concerns about the impact that the future development could have on Camp Carefree (a camp for children with special needs). Jeff Sellers, who lives close to the land, said that the development would jeopardize the countryside character of the area and could lead to higher crime rates.
Sellers said that he expected this decision but did not hide his disappointment by the fact that the commissioners did not comply with most people’s opinion on the matter. He acknowledged that the commissioners could not please everyone but expressed his hopes that they took everything into account before making the decision.
Bringing a Casino in Rockingham is Not a Bad Idea, According to Senator Phil Berger
NC Development Holdings, the attorney representing the developer and the property’s owners, spoke at the meeting, too. The company submitted the request to rezone the area from residential agricultural to highway commercial. Commissioner Charlie G. Hall III said that the development of the land had been discussed for over 20 years. Hall added that taxpayers had spent millions on improving the infrastructure in the area, water, sewer systems, and more. Mr. Hall explained that the land is part of a business corridor, which is why commissioners have been trying to attract potential investors to develop it since 1998.
But many people who attended the meeting were concerned that the land would be used for a casino. Last month, Senator Phil Berger said that state lawmakers have been discussing the idea of bringing a casino to Rockingham County. Sen. Berger explained that such a facility could pump approximately $6 million into the county’s economy and create over 1,700 jobs. But during the meeting, commissioners explained that the main topic of the discussion was the rezoning of the land, and people who have questions about a possible casino in the area should contact legislators in Raleigh.
North Carolina lawmakers are still considering allowing four casinos to open in the state. This March, it became clear that NC Development Holdings, a company with casino ties, asked the Rockingham Commission to rezone almost 200 acres of land. However, it did not specify the development for which it plans to use the land. Currently, North Carolina has three land-based casinos (two owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and one owned by the Catawbas in Kings Mountain).