ROCKY MOUNT — The Rocky Mount Town Council voted Monday night to transfer land to a business looking to build a new facility and add jobs.

The town will transfer up to six acres of what’s known as the Cox property to Davis Heating and Air Conditioning. The business is currently located on South Main Street, just outside of town limits, said Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins.

Davis Heating and Air Conditioning plans to invest $400,000 in a new primary operations facility. An existing 25 jobs would be moved to the town, and the company expects to add around 10 new jobs over the next three years.

The land transfer is part of a performance agreement, which provides incentives in exchange for community investments and the creation of jobs.

In return, the town will transfer the land at no cost and also build a stormwater management pond, which could be utilized by a number of pad sites.

This is just the latest activity at the Cox property, a roughly 50-acre parcel of land the town purchased more than a decade ago. The council has also voted to transfer up to four acres to Better Built Performance, and work on a new facility at the site for Absolute Collision is nearing completion, Hankins said.

Council held a public hearing on the matter Monday, but no citizens offered comments.

Elections

Council members also discussed moving town elections from May to November.

Town Manager James Ervin said doing so would likely increase voter turnout and also minimize costs. He said the state encourages the change and noted it does not pay for elections held in May. The town allocated just over $5,000 for a 2020 election in the budget it just recently adopted.

Shifting the elections to November would require an amendment to the town’s charter.

Mayor Steve Angle said he understood there were certain benefits to holding elections in November, but worried town elections would be the low priority for voters with so many offices on the ballot.

“If it remains in May, as it is, then the emphasis is entirely on the town of Rocky Mount, which I think is a good thing,” Angle said.

Council member Mark Newbill, who inquired about making the change, said turnout in the May elections has been shrinking.

Town staff plans to gather data on voter turnout and share it with council members next month. No action was taken Monday.

Harvester outdoor concert

Additionally, the town council gave its approval for the Harvester Performance Center to use the Rocky Mount farmers market space for an outdoor concert this fall featuring numerous acts.

Hankins, who also serves as the Harvester’s CEO, said the music venue’s staff has been looking for a space for a large outdoor event. He anticipated selling 3,000 general admission tickets for the show.

“We want to stay true to our mission to do economic development in downtown Rocky Mount,” Hankins said. “So creating this large-scale outdoor event would give us the opportunity to really help the businesses, not just downtown but throughout Rocky Mount.”

Vendors at the farmers market would be moved to the depot for the weekend.

The outdoor concert earned the approval of all council members except for Bobby Moyer, who cited the serving of alcohol as the reason for his no vote.

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Casey Fabris covers Franklin County, Rocky Mount and Ferrum College.

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