PE Okays Land Deal

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, February 16, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – Following a brief closed session Tuesday night, County supervisors approved a series of motions to purchase property on Route 15 south and the construction of an alternate Route 628.

Specifically, the board on a 5-2 vote-with supervisors Howard “Pete” Campbell and Jim Wilck opposing-approved a con-tract with Glad Hill Properties LLC and authorized the chairman to execute it, outlining the purchase of about 20 acres for the new road and additional property at a cost of $900,000. (Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones was not present.)

The board also, on a 5-2 vote, approved a contract with the Haymes Brothers construction firm and authorized the chairman and county administrator to execute the documents in order for the county to proceed with construction of the alternate Route 628. (When built, the alternate Route 628 has been penciled in as Route 786.)

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It has been a whirlwind from securing the necessary financing to condemnation proceedings and quick take options for land necessary to make it happen, but the new access road-just south of the existing entrance that leads past the school's complex-could get underway in about two weeks and is expected to be completed later this year.

Still, all is not quite settled on the land front. While the County has exercised a quick take for .919 acres of right-of-way and .433 acres for utility easements form Davis Real Properties, LLC, the two sides have not yet agreed on a price. Board members discussed and authorized the county administrator to engage the services of a condemnation attorney to represent the County.

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt quested if it would be better to go back to the Davises “and see if we can work out an-other price instead of handing that money to an attorney?”

It was noted that they have 90 days before they need to take steps with respect to retaining an attorney for the condemnation.

Essentially, County authorized the county administrator to hire the attorney and would use the services if they do not reach a settlement.

Budget Amendments

In related news, supervisors approved-following a public hearing where there were no speakers-budget amendments tied to the purchase of property on a 5-2 vote. (Boards of Supervisors are required to hold a public hearing when making amend-ments to the county budget when the amendment exceeds one percent of the total expenditures in the adopted budget.)

The board approved an amendment to the general fund of $1,927,751 that allows for the purchase of approximately 13 addi-tional acres from Glad Hill ($384,150), payment of bond issuance cost ($108,981) associated with the VRA 2011 bond (issued in November) and the transfer of $1,434,620 from the general fund to the Virginia Department of Transportation revenue shar-ing fund. County revenues totaling $1,494,857 come from the VRA bond and $432,894 from the fund balance.

Supervisors also approved an amendment to the VDOT revenue sharing fund of $3,694,600 to fund construction and proper-ty acquisition. Revenues include $1,759,980 in state revenue sharing funds, $500,000 from VDOT and $1,434,620 from the general fund.

The County was reportedly notified that they have about $195,000 additional state revenue sharing funds (factored in the revenue figures) from two older revenue sharing projects that were not expended. Collectively, the County has $1,759,980 in revenue sharing funds for the project.

The County's total projected cost (tapping into the general fund balance and the VRA bond) is $1,927,751.

The road, when built, could serve as an access to the proposed Granite Falls hotel, conference and training center proposed on county property at a former quarry site owned by the County.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett detailed that the performance agreement with the developer “stated that he would pay up to 55 percent of the cost of the road…that's through some of the TIF financing. And that was part of the…economic devel-opment agreement… signed probably two years ago and was renewed in January, I believe it was, for another year.”

That, he added, will be part of the discussion that they'll have in the next three or so weeks. (Robert “Bob” Fowler, of Prince Edward Development, asked that the board consider a called meeting in the coming weeks with the Granite Falls CDA and oth-er officials. The group, which is requested to include the County's financial advisor, is expected to address the final financing associated with the tax increment financing, or TIF.)

Asked if it would be half of the $1.9 million or half of the $1.4 million, Bartlett offered that they'll have a discussion with Fowler. He cited that it was his assumption that it's 55 percent of the total cost of the road.

The County, over time (if the hotel project becomes a reality), is expected to see much of its funding for the road returned with the TIF.

The approximately 13 additional acres the County plans to purchase from Glad Hill partially fronts on Rt. 15 at the intersec-tion of the new access road. Hampden District Supervisor Charles McKay likened it to an investment to the county. Gantt added it's an asset.