WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After a lengthy debate for weeks, New Hanover County Commissioners are behind bringing National Gypsum back to Wilmington and providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax incentives.
More than $350,000 will go to persuading the drywall company to return to Wilmington with some conditions.
Those conditions would be that the company generate new stack tests for formaldehyde once they begin operations at the Old Sunnyvale Drive Facility. That idea came from neighbors who spoke against the grant.
“How do we make our area’s growth inclusive so that to insure the prosperity for us all,” Andy McGlinn with the local Sierra Club said. “I do not believe that incentivizing smoke stack industries like National Gypsum are really the way to do this.”
Neighbors for and against the grant crowded the county commission meeting.
Some concerned about the company’s formaldehyde emission, National Gypsum is permitted to release more than eight tons a year by the DEQ.
“I just think we could have something better for our neighborhoods for our kids,” Tonya Sails, who lives near the plant, said.
But company officials fired back. They said the hourly emissions are below what is in the average home.
The company said they would bring in more than 50 jobs and claim they will invest more than $25,000,000 if they return to the Port City.
Public health and business leaders support the grant money, as did neighbors who believe the promises of more than 50 jobs to the area on top of the multi-million dollar investment from the company.
“This is going to positively impact the entire population of New Hanover County,” John Lion, who supports the plant and grant, said.
“The people and the experts that we rely on everyday, tell us this is fine,” local Coldwell Bank President Tim Milam said. “I think it’s great to have a company that’s in this market that wants to be here.”
Many came to support the grant and gypsum returning.
Commissioners agreed and unanimously approved the grant, but heeding warnings like this from neighbors.
“I just don’t think this is the kind of industry that we should be encouraging,” said area resident Tonya Sails said. “The idea that at the elementary school, no one complained, well no one complained about our water quality for thirty years, but we found out now what’s in it.”
Many neighbors spoke in favor of bringing the plant back at public hearing Monday, but did not see the point of this grant money.
Now, Wilmington City Council has to decide about their own grant for the company at their Tuesday meeting.