In 1989, the state of North Carolina joined a five-state compact that would commit the state to site and build five hazardous waste incinerators for a private company called ThermalKEM. In May of 1990, the state had narrowed its list of 18 sites to 2 sites-one on the Rowan and Iredell County border and one near Oxford in Granville County. The Jonesland Environmental Preserve is in part of the proposed Oxford site for the incinerator (combined from nine different landowners and totaling 580 acres off of Belltown Road).
When Granville County residents heard that the state might take land from local landowners near Oxford to build a toxic waste incinerator, they took action. A local Oxford attorney, John Pike, secured a loan from Adams Tobacco Company (a local tobacco company) and purchased the 48-acre Ellok Jones farm, one of the tracts of land in the middle of the 580-acre proposed incinerator site.
John Pike sold $5 ownership shares of the Ellok Jones farmland to approximately 8,000 people, some as far as the Soviet Union and South America. In addition to multiple protests, negotiations with 8,000 shareholders and multiple lawsuits deterred the state to the point that they eventually abandoned the proposed Belltown site.
On May 21,2004,the Belltown land sited for the incinerator was dedicated as the Granville Athletic Park and Jonesland Environmental Preserve.