N.C. leaders sign off on DMV move out of Raleigh
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Rocky Mount Telegram
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
A proposal was approved on Tuesday for Rocky Mount to be the future headquarters of the state Division of Motor Vehicles and officials in the Twin Counties reacted with enthusiasm.
“I think it’s exciting news for Rocky Mount,” Mayor David Combs said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the state also to invest in eastern North Carolina.”
The Council of State, meeting on Tuesday morning, voted 10-0 in favor of the state Department of Transportation’s proposal to shift the DMV headquarters from North Carolina’s capital city.
Specifically, the proposal calls for the headquarters to be relocated 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.
“I think a lot of people have been on the edge of their chair waiting to find out what was going to happen,” Combs said. “I think it was a great commitment.”
The Council of State, composed of Gov. Roy Cooper, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and eight other elected statewide leaders, approved the recommendation of the Department of Transportation — DMV’s parent and a Cabinet agency — to enter a contract that would last at least 15 years.
Cooper told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting he believes the move is a good one.
“I think we’re being wise using taxpayer dollars,” Cooper said.
Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President David Farris, en route back from Raleigh, said the Council of State meeting was called to order at 9 a.m. and adjourned shortly after half an hour in session.
Farris said there was no discussion among the Council of State members about the proposal, noting, “It was almost anti-climactic.”
Farris emphasized this is probably the first time in modern North Carolina history, certainly since North Carolina’s government has been in Raleigh, a division the size and importance of DMV is going to be relocated outside the capital city.
“So, this is indeed historic,” Farris said. “And we are excited about it. And we are pledging to make the transition from DMV and its staff to Rocky Mount over the next year as smooth as possible.”
At the same time, Farris is understanding of the anxiety of many DMV workers, who via news reports from Raleigh have expressed their concerns about having to make a long commute to Nash County.
News outlets are reporting the DMV surveyed employees last week and found of 255 who responded, 145 said they would leave the DMV, 48 said they would remain and 62 said they were uncertain.
Farris was quick to point out Rocky Mount’s experience with the aftermath of then-RBC Centura bank in 2005 announcing intentions to relocate principal offices from Rocky Mount to Raleigh and many bank workers having to begin commuting.
“We understand the concerns that they (DMV workers) have because we’ve walked down that road as a community ourselves,” he said.
“And driving into Raleigh is more difficult in the morning than driving into Rocky Mount,” he said. “And some of them (DMV workers) may decide to locate to Rocky Mount.”
“They can buy a lot more house here than what they have in Raleigh for less money,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to welcome them.”
Additionally, he said he believes the deal is going to open the chance for the site of the present DMV headquarters to be redeveloped and provide Raleigh and Wake County with much property tax revenue.
“So, it can be a win-win for both Rocky Mount and Raleigh and Wake County,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.