UNION COUNTY — A fire district’s efforts to be ready for and to support industrial growth in Union County got a boost Tuesday with the passage of an ordinance by Union County Council.
Council voted unanimously to approve second reading of an ordinance facilitating the Bonham Fire District’s acquisition of 15 acres of land on S.C. 18 and Oak Grove Road from Mary Sprouse for $33,000. Council voted in December to allow Bonham to acquire the land and prepare a deed stating that the acquisition was to protect the department’s future interest. The ordinance approved Tuesday authorizes Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair to deliver the deeds required for the sale to the parties involved in order to complete the transactions.
Sinclair said Wednesday that while Bonham will actually purchase the property, the deeds for the transactions must be in the county’s name as required by state law.
In a December briefing to council about the acquisition, Bonham Fire Chief Scott Austin said the land acquired from Sprouse would be swapped in the future for approximately seven acres of land — also on Oak Grove Road and S.C. 18 — owned by Don and Ann Henderson. Austin said the cost of the acquisition would be partially offset by $2,000 paid by the Henderson’s daughter and son-in-law, Teri and Richard Rena, to facilitate the deal. It would be further offset by $4,200 paid by Scottie Willard for two of the seven acres acquired from the Hendersons.
Austin said Willard, who purchased the old Bonham fire station on S.C. 18 from the district 12 years ago, wants to use the land for his radio business which he had to close to make way for the Gonvauto facility. He said the rest of the acreage would used by the district for a new fire station in the event its current location is required for industrial expansion.
The Bonham Fire Station is currently located on Fire Station Road off S.C. 18 behind the expanding Gestamp Automocion South Carolina LLC manufacturing facility and the Gonvauto North America steel service center which is under construction.
Austin told council in December that the presence of Gestamp and Gonvauto, any future expansion they might undergo, and the possibility of new industry being recruited to the area increases the likelihood that the station’s current location will be needed to accommodate such developments. He said this makes it vital that the district have property available for a new fire station because while a developer might give the district time build a new facility, they would not give it time to acquire the land and build a new station.
In addition to making it easier for it to relocate if its current location is needed for industrial growth, Austin told council that the district wants to send the message that it is willing to do all it can to facilitate economic development. He said it wants council, the Union County Development Board, and industry to know that if its current location is needed for industrial expansion the district is willing to move.
The construction the Gonvauto facility and the transportation infrastructure needed to support it has required the county to relocate the recycling convenience center serving the Bonham community and a communications tower. The relocations are designed to accommodate the construction of a railroad spur that will link Gonvauto with the Norfolk & Southern railroad line on the other side of S.C. 18. The spur is currently under construction and its completion will require the closing of part of S.C. 18 from March 7 through March 10.
Gonvauto South Carolina, LLC is currently constructing a metal fabrication manufacturing facility in Union County, and will invest at least $35 million within the first five years and a total of $50 million within 10 years, ending up with 65 full-time jobs at the facility.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.