IDA Helps To Clear Development’s Air

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — It’s a complicated arrangement, but it’s one that could make the county some money and open up an area around The Manor golf course south of Farmville for growth.

Following a closed session at the end of their June meeting, county supervisors unanimously agreed to authorize the chairman to enter into a settlement agreement with Booth and Company and the Poplar Hill Community Development Authority (CDA) for the purposes of settling all claims on the property commonly known as The Manor.

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“Up until this point in time with all of the claims and stuff against the properties, all the developers just shied away from it … The benefit is … to have development start and go on out there,” Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. explained to The Herald.

With development would come more tax dollars for the county — plus potentially more residents and other services.

The county’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA), The Herald confirmed with County Attorney James R. Ennis, is going to make a loan to the Poplar Hill CDA. The CDA has asked for, and the County has approved, a special tax levy limited to the properties within the CDA district of $1 per $100 of assessed value. That would generate the funds to repay the IDA with an added 3 percent interest. Of the $1 per $100 per assessed value collected, 50 percent of the collected amount goes to the IDA to pay back the loan, and the balance goes to repay Booth and Company.

Booth and Company installed the sewer lines under the golf course prior to its construction. The county has never accepted any dedication of the lines because there was a dispute over the construction of the lines and the payment for the construction of the lines between the then owner and Booth and Company. The county is now in a position to accept dedication of the lines and would be able to establish a revenue source that is not tax-based, but user-based. If the property develops, the county will be in a position to collect tap fees and monthly fees for water and sewer.

The county previously purchased a trunk line from the pumping station up to a connection with the town on Route 15, but did not buy any lines that go under the golf course property and that surround the golf course, according to Ennis.

The lines can be used for residential connections in areas surrounding the golf course. (The county also owns water lines that serve the area that are connected into the Town of Farmville’s utility system.)

“It’s just an initial cash infusion to settle the claims and then … over the next 4½ to five years, that money will be paid back to the IDA,” Timmons said.

The funds will total $200,000 and clear, according to Timmons, all of “the liens and all the litigation out there.” He explained that the board had charged Ennis to bring the matter to closure “and this has been going on probably for about five months now.”

It is a business solution, Timmons said, that works.

“The IDA historically has worked to help promote businesses and industry in Prince Edward County, and assisting with this project …we hope will open up or encourage development in that particular area,” said Prince Edward Economic Development Director Sharon Carney.

She noted that they help all kinds of businesses and industries.

“The best thing that could happen is if residential development started out there and you had land values go up a lot,” CDA Chairman Hunter Watson said. “You’d get it paid off a lot quicker and then you would not have the tax any more,”

Watson believes it’s good for all of the parties involved.

It’s the second large piece in the puzzle that could have a stabilizing effect. The Manor Golf Club was up for sale in May on the steps of the courthouse in a substitute trustee’s sale. There was only one bid from the bondholder that tallied $600,000.

The sale, coupled with the end of litigation, may clear the muddied waters of uncertainty.