Sweet deal

Published 6:09 pm Friday, January 27, 2012

WINTON – Nothing beats free.

On Friday, the pendulum representing the issue of where to build the new Hertford County Courthouse swung back in Winton’s favor as an offer for free land was made to county officials.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said she received a hand delivered letter around noon Friday from the controlling partners representing ASP Riversedge LLC. That letter read as follows:

“We would like to offer the county and its citizens 25 acres to locate its new county complex, including the courthouse, on the corner of US 158 and Parker’sFerry Roadat a price of zero dollars per acre. We strongly feel this is a logical location for this new complex and want to show our support by offering 25 acres at no cost to the county.”

The Riversedge development, located just west of Winton, is controlled by Ahoskie businessman Preston Wood, legendaryAhoskieHigh Schoolfootball coach Al Vaughan and Scott Camp, representing the heirs of the S.V. Camp family ofFranklin,Va.

Williams said upon receiving the letter, she personally contacted each of the five members of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners by telephone. She also had copies of the letter hand delivered to each commissioner.

“I’m fairly certain this offer will be discussed at the next scheduled  commissioners’ meeting, not unless they decide to call a special meeting prior to that date,” Williams told the R-C News-Herald.

The next scheduled commissioners’ meeting is 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6.

The Riversedge property was among the three finalists for the courthouse construction. It was originally offered for $20,000 per acre, with the owners paying for $500,000 worth of infrastructure improvements. That offer was eventually lowered to $7,000 per acre, with the county covering the cost of the infrastructure.

In December, the commissioners narrowed the list to two – the Percy Bunch property located off the US 158/258 bypass near Murfreesboro ($7,500 per acre for 25 acres) and a 25-acre tract owned by Stuart Pierce near Frazier’s Crossroads on NC 561 west of Ahoskie ($13,000 per acre).

At their Jan. 3 meeting, the board, in a 3-2 vote, selected the Bunch property for the construction project. Two weeks later, at their Jan. 17 meeting, the commissioners voted 5-0 to enter into an option agreement with Bunch for his property. That agreement is not an outright purchase. Rather it gives the county 120 days in which to perform their “due diligence” to include title examination, utilities (mechanical and engineering studies) and study the site for possible environmental issues. At the end of that 120-day period the county can either elect to purchase or not purchase the property for cause or no cause.

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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