For the second time in a week, three Halifax County commissioners voted against a resolution endorsing a casino for the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District in Roanoke Rapids.
The difference in Monday night’s vote during a specially called meeting and the vote last week was that Chenoa Davis, who was absent last week, sided with Chairman Vernon Bryant and Linda Brewer. Commissioners Carolyn Johnson, John Smith, and Sammy Webb again voted against the resolution, forcing a deadlock which caused the issue to die.
The dissenting commissioners offered no explanation on their votes.
Brewer’s motion to accept the resolution, which had been approved by Roanoke Rapids City Council, received a second from Bryant, but died due to the deadlock.
The vote on the matter came after a presentation by Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott on the financial impact a casino could have on the area.
While the state budget last week passed without a casino legislation included, it is widely believed lawmakers will take up the matter again. “This issue is still being discussed,” Scott said. “It could come up in a special session, it could come up as some other means, it could come back in April for the short session. But I feel like to show our support for the city of Roanoke Rapids and their efforts — that’s the purpose of this resolution.”
She said that the shovel-ready status of Carolina Crossroads gives the county a competitive edge that, if the resolution had passed, could have put it ahead of the game.
There have been counties that have taken action as a result of the discussions, Scott said, including Rockingham County which rezoned a piece of property while Nash County has taken a stance to let its people decide. “It puts us in a competitive advantage for sure.”
Brewer said, “Most of the time when Ms. Scott comes to us with an economic issue, whoever is coming here is looking for some incentives, either local or state. Whomever would come here with this particular issue is asking for nothing. There’s not a dime of local money nor state money coming to these folks as an incentive as I understand it. It’s a private project.”
County Manager Dia Denton said over the past week staff has been trying to understand the legislation as it is currently written.
No commissioners spoke when Bryant asked for comments.
County Attorney Glynn Rollins did say since the matter was considered last week had someone at that time wanted to renew or reconsider the resolution it would have to have come from a board member who had voted in the majority. “Once we closed that meeting and came to a new meeting, this could be considered at any time.”