Northampton, NCCAR settle dispute

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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JACKSON – A settlement agreement has been reached to end a dispute between the Northampton County Board of Commissioners and the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR). The Board gave their unanimous approval of the settlement at their regular meeting here on Nov. 1.

Under the terms of the settlement, NCCAR will purchase the land they were previously leasing from the county.

NCCAR is a nonprofit located in Garysburg that works to conduct testing and development for the automotive industry. According to their website, the 620-acre facility includes a bi-directional road course, a vehicle dynamics area, a dirt facility, and dirt trails.

Attorney Scott McKellar, legal counsel for the Northampton Commissioners, presented the information about the agreement, explaining that the county had purchased the land several years ago at a price of $1.8 million.

“Since September 2011, NCCAR has leased that property from the county under an amended lease agreement,” McKellar stated. “Some of the terms of that lease agreement were not agreeable to the county and were in dispute between parties. We have had extensive negotiations which culminated in the proposed resolution.”

The resolution’s terms state that NCCAR will purchase the property for $1.8 million, and those payments will be made monthly over a seven-year period with a 1.25 percent interest rate. The sale is scheduled to close within 60 days of Nov. 1.

McKellar also noted that the property is able to be conveyed to a nonprofit corporation under state law, with the condition that it must continue to be used for public purpose.

“In addition, NCCAR has agreed to allow this board [of commissioners] to appoint two members to NCCAR’s board of directors,” he continued, adding that the nonprofit will also provide financial documents to demonstrate how the property is being put to public use.

McKellar concluded his presentation by recommending his approval of the settlement agreement.

“I believe this agreement is best for all concerned,” said Board Chair and Interim County Manager Charles Tyner.

Tyner explained that he’d had liability concerns about the facility, particularly with the racing tests conducted there.

“If someone gets hurt on that ground, then I don’t want to hear that Northampton County is liable in any sense. We are not in the racing car business,” Tyner stated.

Tyner also noted another benefit of the agreement is the $1.8 million the county will receive through the property purchase.

“By the way, that’ll help us cut some taxes, folks,” he added.

Additionally, he thanked Commissioner Kelvin Edwards for participating in the negotiations. The NCCAR facility is located in his district.

Without any further discussion from the board, Edwards motioned to approve the agreement and Commissioner Nicole Boone seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

“Board members, I know we made the right decision here,” Tyner concluded after the motion passed.