Buckingham County supervisors buy back Knight Valley property

Published 8:37 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

DILLWYN – Buckingham County once again owns the property intended to become the Knight Valley subdivision in Dillwyn. During a special meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, Buckingham supervisors voted 6-1 to buy the property from development group Atlantic Investment Corporation. District 7 Supervisor Danny Allen was the only one opposed to the deal. 

“I’m glad to get it back but I hate to spend the money,” Allen said. 

Under terms of the deal, the county will pay Atlantic Investment a total of $516,749.67 to re-purchase the 134 acre site in Dillwyn. The county had originally sold it to Atlantic last summer. Afterwards, the developer rolled out plans for 119 single family homes, including 67 townhouses, 24 detached row-style homes and 28 single family homes.

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The argument had been that the prices, which were expected to range from $250,000 for a townhouse to $500,000 for a single family home, would attract “first-time homeowners from all demographics, who desire a less congested alternative to city living”, according to the materials given to the county’s planning commission. However, Atlantic withdrew a request for a special use permit in September.

“It was my hope that Atlantic Investment would have followed the process that was agreed to by allowing the Planning Commission to weigh in on the matter, and make further recommendations to the developer and then allow the Board of Supervisors to review the rezoning application the developer needed,” District 4 Supervisor Jordan Miles III told The Herald. “This never happened, thus the project stalled, and placed us in a situation where a decision had to be made regarding the property.”

Breaking down the Buckingham County deal

That $516,749.67 price Buckingham agreed to pay in Friday’s deal is split in half. Out of that, $170,000 is meant to help cover a portion of Atlantic’s expenses incurred since last June to develop the property. The remaining $346,749.67 is for the land sale. This deal is set to go into effect no later than Friday, Feb. 10. 

The county also agreed to forgive a debt. Last summer, Atlantic agreed to pay Buckingham County $751,680 in total for 125.28 acres, which had been an industrial park. At the time, Atlantic paid $346,749.67. The remainder of the $751,680 was promised, but had not been paid yet.

As part of this deal, supervisors agreed to forgive the  $405,840. So that means the county originally received only $346,749.67 for the land in the first sale, then paid $516,749.67 to get it back. 

Supervisor Cameron Gilliam represents District 2, where the property is located. A newer member to the board, who came on after the original sale had been made, Gilliam said his vote to buy back the property was for the residents he served. 

“My vote tonight was for the citizens of the county and citizens of District 2,” Gilliam said. “They’ve chosen to have this land back. It’s not good to lose money at any time, but I feel this is in the best interests of the county.”  

At the time of the first sale, the county staff and developer estimated the project would have added $15 million to Buckingham’s tax base within a five year period. 

So what happens to Knight Valley now? 

Atlantic’s subdivision proposal hadn’t gone over well with residents. That’s especially true for some neighbors of the property, who came to speak at meetings last summer and last fall. The fear was twofold. First, they were afraid these proposed townhouses and neighborhoods would bring in people from other cities, changing Buckingham’s rural dynamic. Second, they were afraid a subdivision like this would bring in more expensive stores, increasing the cost of goods and services.
“It’s clear many people weren’t in favor of the project,” Miles said to other board members during the meeting. “I had some people in my district who were (in favor and) I still believe in the project. I think it would be good for the county (but) I think I have more faith in the project than the developer now does.”

Miles said he believes the mixed use housing and commercial business development would have been ideal for that location and for the local economy.

“There is a nationwide housing shortage and a clear demand for good paying jobs in our community,” Miles told The Herald. “This project would have elevated wages and I believe (would have) improved the lives of our neighbors.”

As part of the vote, supervisors agreed to turn to Buckingham County’s economic development committee. The committee will be assigned to develop a report on the best way to market the Dillwyn property. That report has to be submitted to supervisors no later than April 10. 

Supervisors also said the makeup of the Buckingham County economic development committee will change a bit before they start work on this project. That is, at their Monday, Feb. 13 meeting, supervisors plan to add several members to the committee. 

“I’ve talked to the board tonight,” Gilliam said. “They’ve assured me that they’re going to let the people from District 2 have some landowners or adjacent people be on the committee. They’re going to let a representative from the Christian school have some involvement and some business owners within the community.”