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Decision on DMV site delayed

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The six-story building on North Church Street near the Rocky Mount Sports Complex which at one time was the headquarters of Hardee's Food Systems.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A proposal to relocate the state Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters from Raleigh to Rocky Mount has been put on hold, a spokeswoman for Gov. Roy Cooper said.

“The governor’s office has heard concerns from employees and community members and requested that the item be taken off the Council of State agenda to give more time to discuss its impact,” Noelle Talley said in an email on Tuesday morning.

The item was to be on the 9 a.m. Tuesday agenda of the Council of State meeting. The council is comprised of the top state officers, including Cooper, and has the power to make decisions about state purchases of properties.

News outlets in Raleigh have been airing reports about DMV workers concerned about having to make a long commute if the headquarters is shifted to Nash County.

Teresa Ryder told television station WNCN she’s “absolutely flabbergasted.”

“I could not believe, of all the options, they went to Rocky Mount,” Ryder said.

Her future commute would be 72 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes at the present time.

She told WNCN she’d go the longer distance because she needs to work a few more years so she can start earning retirement benefits, but she said of 25 people in her unit, probably only three are saying they would work in Rocky Mount.

Two other DMV workers, Nereida Gonzalez and Errico Moore, told television station WRAL about their worries.

Gonzalez, who lives in Wake Forest, said she has a daughter with special needs and said she’d have to have someone at home starting at 6:30 a.m. to stay with the daughter for the day before she headed to work.

“That’s not going to happen,” Gonzalez said.

Moore said she wouldn’t be able to drop off her son at school and get to work on time approximately an hour away.

Additionally, The News & Observer reported the State Employees Association of North Carolina and all 16 Wake County legislators were prepared to urge the Council of State to oppose the deal.

The state Department of Transportation is proposing to relocate the DMV from New Bern Avenue in Raleigh to the former Hardee’s Food Systems building off North Church Street and just north of Bypass U.S. 64.

State transportation officials believe the site in Rocky Mount meets the legal definition of the lowest competitive bid.

DMV wants the go-ahead from North Carolina’s leading officials to sign a slightly more than $2 million a year lease for 15 years, with the deal to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The property in Rocky Mount was purchased in 2016 for more than $1.3 million by Scott McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer of Strategic Connections in Raleigh, and his partner, David Hicks, a Zebulon businessman who’s from Nash County.

PNC Bank had been using the building after acquiring RBC Bank and before a PNC lease there had expired.

The DMV must leave New Bern Avenue location by autumn 2020 because of health and safety issues beyond the state’s control.

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