County Closing in on Land Deals

WINNSBORO – County Council approved second reading during their July 14 meeting on a trio of land deals and will shell out a total of $215,000 for two parcels while raking in more than $1.2 million in the sale of another, should the ordinances clear final reading in two weeks.

Ordinance 636 authorizes the County to pay Judy Davis $65,000 for 1.12 acres located at 350 Highway 21 S. in Ridgeway, land that will be used for the relocation of the Ridgeway Fire Department. Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said the new location would not negatively impact ISO ratings on local homeowners’ insurance and may in fact improve response times.

Ordinance 637 authorizes the purchase of 5.93 acres owned by Clayton Belton on Park Road in Ridgeway for $150,000. The property is currently home to Rufus Belton Park, as well as a fire and EMS station. The County has been leasing the property from Belton for several years. Pope said the lease was set to expire in the coming months and the County was looking to avoid the necessity of acquiring new property and building a new fire and EMS station.

“The County two or three years ago changed its policy where the County had previously entered into long-term lease agreements on property,” Pope said. “However, when the lease runs out on that you lose your ability to have that improvement. This was the rationale behind the idea to try to secure and purchase that property in order to maintain that fire station, EMS and recreational opportunities that are there.”

According to the contract, the County agrees to place a memorial on the property recognizing the history of Rufus Belton Park. A trailer on the property will also be removed at the County’s expense.

Ordinance 638 puts the County one vote away from unloading 405 acres of land off Center Creek Road to Douglas L. Gamburg for $1,215,000. According to tax records, the County purchased the land in 2002 from SP Forests, LLC for $617,625 and had explored the possibilities of developing the land for a retirement community.

“The market went south in 2008,” Pope said. “We looked at that property again and did not see a market for that particular piece of property.”

Pope recommended the reinvestment of the proceeds from the sale into “future economic development opportunities for the County.”

All three ordinances cleared second reading without descent. Councilman David Brown (District 7) recused himself from ordinance 636 and 638, both deals brokered by Brown & Co. Real Estate, which is owned by Brown’s son, Russ.