Buckingham supervisors consider future of Knight Valley property

Published 5:09 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

DILLWYN – Almost a year after Buckingham County originally sold it, before later buying it back, there’s a plan in place for the Knight Valley property. 

The 134-acre piece of land in Dillwyn was sold by Buckingham County in August 2022 to Atlantic Investment Corporation. It was supposed to be the site of 119 homes, including 67 townhouses, 24 detached row-style homes and 28 single family homes. 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. The group later abandoned plans for a Buckingham County operation, selling the land back to the county. 

That left Buckingham County owning a piece of land already rejected once. The Buckingham Board of Supervisors assigned their economic development committee, led by supervisors Jordan Miles and Don Matthews, to put together some recommendations, detailing the best ways to market the property and sell it. Now, after Monday night’s meeting, we have an idea of what those recommendations look like. 

What does Buckingham do next?

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Miles turned those recommendations over to the board during their Monday, June 12 meeting, as they took a vote on what to do with the property. The proposed answer, it turns out, currently involves several steps. Step one, sell some of the timber on the property, with the county hiring a forester to help make that happen. Specifically, the motion by Supervisor Miles called for Gary Cline, of Gary Cline Realty and Timber, to be that forester. 

“He will not establish a price and say here is what we’re selling (at),” said Buckingham County Attorney EM Wright, speaking of the forester’s role in the sale. “He will basically facilitate the receiving of bids and then those bids would come back to the board. (Using) a forester is simpler than a marketing agent. He knows the people who will be interested in this timber. It gives him an opportunity to funnel the information to the right people.” 

Wright had been asked by the board of supervisors to basically translate some of the legal aspects of the recommendations. He explained that the board would not be forced to accept any of the bids it received. If the supervisors don’t like the proposals, they can just try again or scrap the idea. 

That’s step one. Step two, after the timber is gone, the goal would be to work with the forester and clear the land, so it’s in the best position to be developed. And then, it would be time for step three, which will be pretty familiar to county residents. Namely, find someone who will buy and develop the land once it’s been cleared. 

There are a couple extra points included with this. First, Central Virginia Christian School has an option in place to buy 10 acres of the property. The timber on those 10 acres will be kept out of the sale when everything else is being cut. Second, a 50-foot buffer is to be left in place on the Lesueur Street side of the property in Dillwyn. 

The price of getting the property back

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.
They also didn’t appreciate the price. That $516,749.67 price Buckingham agreed to pay in that 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.
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. 

‘What are you going to do?’

But the biggest question involving the property still remains, as Supervisor Danny Allen pointed out. 

“What are you going to do with that property?” Allen asked the rest of the board on Monday. He had been the only member opposed to buying it back from Atlantic earlier this year. “Are you going to bulldoze all the stumps when you get through?” 

Board members responded to him that they haven’t crossed that bridge yet, in terms of what the property will be. 

“Well, before you go cutting it, you ought to cross that bridge,” Allen said. “(Otherwise) the stuff you’re gonna do, it’s gonna cost you more than what you’re going to make.” 

The response, from Supervisor Miles, was that the board isn’t committing to anything with this step. They would be able to reject timber cutting bids. All they were voting on at the moment, Miles pointed out, was to a) contract with Gary Cline and b) let him collect bids to cut the timber, then bring those bids back to the board. 

Everyone agreed to move forward with that, voting 6-0 to let Cline get started.