N’hampton eyes reuse of Woodland property

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to enter into a short-term lease agreement with the Lee Family Trust for the Woodland property of the Talon or Fineline building.

Economic Development Director Gary Brown brought the recommendation to a public hearing at last week’s meeting of the commissioners.

Brown said the county’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) sought approval of the lease agreement to lease the Fineline building for no more than five months for $10.

“During the term of the lease,” Brown said, “Northampton County proposes to remove debris from the premises, make other modifications, and ultimately make determinations as to the potential for industrial reuse of the property.”

Brown said trustee labor from the county jail, under the supervision of Sheriff Jack Smith’s staff, would do clean-up of the site.

The county would also hire local people for mowing and yard work of the 14-acre property and Brown said Waste Industries has agreed to provide debris disposal services at no cost the county.

The EDC will also evaluate repairs to the building that may be needed and report them to the County Manager.

Brown concluded, “Should the county determine that sufficient industrial reuse potential exists, the Lee Family Trust may donate, and the county may receive, the property as a gift for the purpose of promoting industrial/commercial reuse of the property by tenants committing to make improvements to the property and create sustainable employment opportunities for area residents.”

No citizens spoke during the public hearing.

There was no discussion about any potential tenants considering the property.

Also at last week’s meeting, the commissioners convened the Board of Equalization and Review (E&R). Tax Administrator Cathy Allen brought three property appeals to the board’s attention that she recommended approving based on new appraisals of the actual valuation of the properties.

Two of the properties were originally appraised at nearly $10,000, but a reappraisal found the land did not perk. The new appraisal valued each property at $1,000 because the land did not perk.

County Appraiser Avery Davis said another property owned by FF Pleasant Hill LLC, which had been valued at $456,513 should be valued at $180,679.

Avery said the property is the site of an old nursing home, now closed. He said it is “very dated” and is “not worth saving.” Board Chair Fannie Greene knows the property and concurred with Davis. She said, “It’s in very bad shape.”

The board voted unanimously to the reduced appraisals for all three parcels.

On another tax matter, Commissioner Robert Carter said there has been a suggestion that tax appeals of less than $100 not come before the board for approval, but handled instead by the Tax and Finance departments.

Carter made a motion to reject that idea, “for transparency,” and continue bring all tax relief requests, regardless of value, to the Board of County Commissioners for review.

His motion also passed unanimously.