Top three revealed

Published 11:17 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WINTON – As promised, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners on Monday night narrowed their list from four to two of potential sites to build the county’s new courthouse.

However, in an unexpected move, the county’s elected leaders placed one previously rejected parcel back under consideration.

Following a motion from Howard Hunter III, the board unanimously dropped from further consideration the Larry and Nancy Freeman tract (56+ acres located on US 13 north of Ahoskie) and the Pierce Beasley & Company, Inc. tract (25 acres located on Community College Road in Union near the old Roanoke-Chowan Mental Health facility).

That left two possible sites still on the list – the Percy Bunch tract (25+ acres located near the intersection of US 158 Business and the Murfreesboro Bypass; land is valued at $262,683); and a 70-acre parcel (valued at $906,461) located within the Riversedge development located along US 158 just west of Winton. Riversedge was on the original list of numerous properties submitted for consideration, but was dropped following the board’s Oct. 25 workshop and re-added at the board’s Nov. 7 regular meeting. County officials have negotiated a $500,000 purchase price, which includes all water/sewer connection fees.

Following a 38-minute closed session at Monday night’s meeting, the commissioners returned to open session where Hunter’s motion to drop the two sites was approved. As part of that approved motion, the Stuart Pierce property was added back to the list of possible sites.

“The reason I made that motion was that the infrastructure needed at the Freeman property is too expensive and the Pierce Beasley property is landlocked,” Hunter said.

The Freeman property needed $606,320 worth of infrastructure improvements (extend a sewer line from Ahoskie).

The Stuart Pierce property (Roanoke-Chowan Crossing located near Frazier’s Crossroads on NC 561 west of Ahoskie) now re-added to the list is actually two separate parcels (20 acres and 10 acres). The combined purchase price, which includes connections to Ahoskie’s water and sewer lines, is projected at $490,000.

(a 20-acre tract valued at $22,000 per acre and a 10-acre tract priced at $20,000 per acre). Both have water and sewer access.

“Early in our evaluation process on each possible site the Stuart Pierce property was eliminated due to it not being one parcel that met our minimum requirement of 25 acres,” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams. “What is now back on the table there is the same of what was originally submitted, it’s not a new piece of property. What the commissioners decided to do in this particular case was to give Mr. Pierce the opportunity to present a proposal that is better keeping with the board’s criteria.”

At the direction of the board, Williams has scheduled a meeting with Pierce to negotiate an offer.

“Hopefully by the first of the year we will have narrowed this list of three to one property and move forward with the construction of our new courthouse,” Williams said.

In an effort to help promote the Bunch property, the Murfreesboro Town Council earlier this month adopted a resolution agreeing to construct the necessary sewer and water infrastructure as well as remove the Bunch property from the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) should the county select that particular parcel for the construction of the new courthouse.

The original intent of the commissioners was to construct the new courthouse on county-owned property on Tryon Street in Winton. They hired an architect to draw up plans for that location.

However, since late spring, county officials and Winton Town Commissioners have been at odds over the new courthouse. At their Sept. 13 meeting, Winton Commissioners approved a street setback variance for the courthouse, but denied the county’s plan to provide for ample parking during the construction process.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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