County pursuing 336-acres on I-77

WINNSBORO – County Council approved second reading Monday night of Ordinance 683 to purchase 336 acres east of I-77 between exits 41 and 46 for $1.8 million, a price that is subject to change based on future grants.

“I applaud this group for several things with this ordinance,” Randy Bright said during open citizen comment. “Number one, the investment in jobs and the economy. It’s what we need. We’re in the top 10 or so in the worst unemployment rates in the state. We’ve got a long way to go, so I applaud this Investment.”

The ordinance has been amended since the first reading from 508 acres to 336 acres. That dropped the original price of $2.7 million down to $2.153 million.

“The reason the price and acreage is being amended is because there is one parcel that we are not going to be purchasing,” County Economic Development Director Ty Davenport told Council. “It’s more economical not to buy it.”

A $300,000 grant from the Department of Commerce lowered the price tag further, and the County is awaiting word on another grant that could reduce the cost to around $775,000.

“The amount is up to the grantor, so we don’t know what it will end up being. It could be significant, or it might be nothing,” Davenport said.

Included in the sale are three parcels. There is a Parcel M at the entrance of the property that is owned by a third party and is not included in the sale. Because the 336-acre property does not offer a good entrance area, Council wanted assurances that the owner of Parcel M would allow the County enough right of way on Parcel M to allow for an access road into the 336 acres.

Council Chairman Billy Smith said he understood that the landowner has given assurances to allow the access road.

“But I want to know if we not only have assurance that we’ll be able to have a right of way for a road in there for access but that we’ll also be able to do any staging work necessary there,” Smith said. “Lighting, landscaping, things of that nature.”

Smith also requested a fixed-priced agreement on the property to prevent Parcel M’s owner from inflating the cost if the County were to find someone to purchase it.

“He would give right of way to part of that property and he would keep the rest and, later, if someone wanted to put industry there he would sell it to them,” Councilman Jimmy Ray Douglas said.

County Administrator Jason Taylor and Davenport had meetings with the Parcel M landowner in an effort to forge an agreement in writing before third reading.

“I’m not down on the deal. I think it’s a good deal,” Smith said. “We’ve got the number down to potentially around $775,000. I think it’ll be fantastic if we can work that out. I just think there are some other details we need to take care of in the process.”

According to Smith, the County can delay the third reading until another date, to give County Officials more time to get a fully lawyered agreement in place.

“But I will not vote for it on third reading if that’s not done. I’m telling you today,” Smith said.

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