Sale of Mottley Lake is pending

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

David and Robyn Simpson, of Prospect, are set to purchase Mottley Lake from Russell Harper’s Farmville Farms LLC.

During Wednesday’s Farmville Town Council meeting, members unanimously voted to transfer the existing promissory note between Farmville Farms and the Town of Farmville to the Simpsons, meaning they are now set to finish the remainder of payments of $950,000 to the town.

The note was transferred under the same terms of that with Farmville Farms, according to the town.

“It’s in the process,” Robyn said of the transaction with Farmville Farms. “We’ve done the contract … And we have a closing date … All that’s been set and signed by both parties.”

The Simpsons and Farmville Farms are set to close on the property in May, she said.

“Basically what we’re doing is paying for any improvements that he did and assuming that note,” she said.

During the process when the town was first looking to sell the property, the Simpsons submitted a bid in addition to the one from Harper’s firm.

“We live on a family farm adjoining the Mottley Lake property,” said Simpson last year. “We are interested in purchasing this property and have, in fact, been bidding on it. Our latest bid was for $1,225,000 with terms discussed with Spates as being 20 percent down with the balance to be divided into annual payments at 4 percent interest, being paid in full in 5 years with no penalty for early payoff.”

Simpson noted Farmville Farms’ bid for the property last year was “not only unfair, but actually much less money to the Farmville taxpayers than our bid,” Simpson said.

“We’re paying for his improvements and we’re also assuming the town’s note,” Robyn said Friday. “Well, then … from December until we close in May, we’re working on a lease contract; we’re leasing it. And that amount of money changed.”

Robyn wouldn’t offer the sale price of the property. She said Harper approached she and her husband about purchasing the property.

“We’ve lived beside it for 30 years. It’s right at us,” Robyn said of she and her husband’s reasoning of purchasing the property. “It’s just right beside us. We already have the farm right beside it which is why we were bidding on it to begin with. Our farm adjoins it, runs right up to it. You have to go through a right-of-way to go through our farm to get to it … We cattle farm back there.”

“The promissory note was the note that we had on the remaining balance of the note on the (Mottley Lake) property,” Town Manager Gerald Spates said following the Wednesday meeting. “They want to transfer the promissory note to the Simpsons, which is a note with the town, which we’ve agreed to extend to them the same terms that we have to the Harpers.”

“They owe us $950,000 … at zero percent interest for the first five years and the next five years is whatever the prime (interest) rate is. But, now, (Farmville Farms) already paid one ($95,000) payment. So it’s four payments at zero percent.”

Spates said the town will continue to retain rights to the water in the lake.

“Now we’re going to be paid by the Simpsons,” Spates said.

Harper couldn’t be reached for comment.

Last February, the town sold the property to Farmville Farms for $1.25 million. Originally, the property was purchased to be utilized as a source for emergency backup water for the town. One hundred and forty-seven acres was included with the property.

“We don’t need it,” Spates said last year, referring to the land included with the lake.

Terms of the sale included $300,000 down due at closing with zero percent interest during the first five years. Payments would be $95,000 during the first five years and $95,000 for the remaining five, plus interest, according to the town.

“We feel like there’s quite a few people who would understand the importance of that, that the town needs to retain the authority and ability to release that water into the Appomattox River in a drought scenario,” Ward E Council Member and Finance Committee Chair J.J. “Jamie” Davis said last year regarding the sale of the property.

The town purchased the property and lake for $1.67 million.

Spates previously told The Herald that the land’s value had decreased since the town took ownership because rental trailers had been removed and Luck Stone was planning to operate a quarry on adjacent property.