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 20160323cctower

 

Hynson confirms: No new ball fields

The real estate market was enjoying its peak activity when developer Rich Ward proffered to provide Westmoreland County’s children with a complex of ball playing fields at a location immediately opposite the state park entrance on state Route 3.
Another proffer associated with Ward’s rezoning approval involved financial support of the Phase 2 Washington District sewer project. The developer’s inability to deliver caused the project to be delayed until other revenue streams became available to support the project scheduled for completion later this year.

Several months ago it was reported in these pages that the property Ward proffered for use as a sports playing complex would be offered at auction to the highest bidder.
Last Monday Board of Supervisors Chairman Woody Hynson told county residents the developer’s creditors opted out of the scheduled auction.
The on-site real property auction scheduled for Dec. 10 could not occur due to the developer’s troubled relationship with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Land disturbance activities on the tract’s ridge property failed to incorporate stormwater management protocols and a neighbor’s bottom land became impaired, necessitating state agency intervention.
Encumbrances on the property the developer proffered to develop as a children’s sports complex may have stopped last month’s auction, but Hynson said the proffer has been dead ever since the implosion of the real estate market and home building industry.
“I spent two weeks digging into this,” Hynson said. “I’ve had conversations with a lot of people and I’m sorry I don’t feel comfortable being more specific about what I have been told.
“As far as I was concerned, the proffer to provide the sports complex for the children died as soon as it became apparent that the developer couldn’t build the houses to support [the Northern Neck subdivision] project.
“The developer had proffered to give the children the property for the playing fields as a gift, but I’ve learned there is a difference in being given a property and developing it.
“When I first learned there was supposed to be an auction, I thought it might be sold for cheap. I can’t just blurt out everything I know, but the seller of the project, the lien holder, was starting out with a bottom bid of what was owed on it.
“Later on the seller learned about the problems the Virginia agency had with the property and all the marsh grass growing on the backside of the tract.
“It became understood that it might take a lot of money for the necessary wetlands mitigation. It seemed like it would cost as much to mitigate the wetlands [disturbance] as it would take to buy the land. Altogether it came to a very large sum.
“When it came time for the auction, the seller had to divulge the information about problems the state [agency] had already identified with that property. There were no bids. With no deal, it was just left there, that’s the way it is.
“I think in those two weeks I must have talked to everyone involved on both sides,” meaning developer, creditor(s) and state agency officials.
“In the end I didn’t feel comfortable with trying to buy the property” so the kids could have the ball fields.
“I didn’t feel it was a good deal. Yes, it’s a dead dog,” Hynson said.

Betsy Ficklin

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