Northampton purchases lake property

Published 8:21 pm Friday, September 20, 2019

WOODLAND – Three parcels of land on Lake Gaston were the subject of a public hearing held here during the Northampton County Commissioners’ regular meeting on Sept. 16. More specifically, the question was whether the county should purchase that property.

“Before the Board this evening is consideration of appropriation of county funding for economic development purposes,” explained County Attorney Scott McKellar.

One of the properties is a six-acre parcel located at 625 Edwards Beach Road in Henrico at the cost of $50,000 per acre or $300,000 total.

Also part of the public hearing was an option to purchase two more additional tracts of land: a three-acre tract included in the same parcel, and a half-acre tract adjoining to the south.

All of the property is owned by Fannie P. Edwards LLC, a corporation that lists a Henrico address.

McKellar noted the Board had been given the proposed Purchase and Sale Contract for the six acres as well as the Option to Purchase Agreement for the three-acre plot to consider.

“The second proposed option (the half-acre tract) is not prepared to be executed at this time. However, we’re still holding the public hearing as required by law on both options,” he explained before the public hearing was opened up for citizen comments.

A total of three citizens spoke during the public comment period.

Wayne Jenkins, who noted he didn’t agree with the idea of holding a public hearing without the second option being completed, asked if public funds would be used for the purchase.

Board Chair Charles Tyner answered yes, adding they would hold another public hearing once the second option was prepared.

In the public hearing notice, it was stated the source of the funding for the purchase would be the county’s general fund.

The next citizen to comment, Tim Hollowell, asked about the purchase prices for the land in question. McKellar answered that was based on the land’s tax value.

Al Kwasikpui began his comment by asking if the parcel of land would be used for the “land option on Lake Gaston for a recreation, wellness and convention center” listed on the Strategic Plan the commissioners unveiled earlier this year.

Tyner confirmed this was indeed the land’s intended use.

“As far as a convention center goes, it’s a beautiful location. I think it’s going to be great as a convention center,” Kwasikpui said, but also acknowledged the location might not be very convenient for a lot of county residents.

“Edwards Beach is about four miles from the Warren County line. It’s approximately 18 miles from the Garysburg Town Hall and about 12 miles from the Gaston Town Hall. So it’s closer to Warren County than two of our largest population centers,” he continued.

He wrapped up his comment by agreeing a convention center would probably be a great draw for people outside of the county, but as a recreation center it might not necessarily be beneficial for citizens living within the county if the distance is too far to travel.

“I would just ask you to consider that,” he concluded.

Once the public hearing was recessed, Commissioner Geneva Faulkner motioned to execute the purchase of the six-acre tract, subject to surveys, and also to move forward with the option to purchase the three-acre tract. She also motioned to table the proposal for the half-acre tract until another public hearing could be held at a later date.

Commissioner Nicole Boone seconded. The vote passed unanimously.

According to the terms of the Option to Purchase agreement for both the three-acre and half-acre tracts, the county has a three-year option agreement with the seller. There are a total of $45,000 in option fees: $12,500 due on each from the effective date of the initial option fee; and $5,000 on each tract due on both the first and second anniversaries of the payment of the initial option fee.

If the county proceeds with the purchase of one or both options, the option fees paid until that point will be deducted from the purchase price.

The purchase price on the three-acre option is $240,000. Once that option is exercised during any point of the three-year option period, the county will pay the seller $100,000 at closing (less the credit for the option fees). The remaining $140,000 will be by a promissory note at no interest – secured by a deed of trust – and payable in quarterly installments of $17,500 over a two-year period from the closing date.