Mayor makes progress in land deal

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Negotiations to resolve easement issues for expansion of the Lewisburg Business Park have found some success, according to the city manager.

Mayor Bob Phillips has obtained an agreement from property owner Jack Webb for the release of his access to otherwise land-locked property, City Manager Eddie Fuller said Monday.

In exchange, Webb will have access from one tract of land to another along a right of way to be created on the east side of the Business Park, Fuller said.

That would remove Webb's easement across land owned by Ralph Harder who sold the city an option to buy his land for expansion of the park. The option expires on Feb. 5 and so, if the option is to be exercised, it's to be done with a vote by the City Council on or before Thursday next week.

The Council and members of the city's Industrial Development Board were scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when, at that press-time gathering, the panels might resolve other details toward expansion of the park and schedule two special-called meetings for voting: One for a recommendation; the other for purchase. Yesterday's session was a non-voting workshop.

Phillips left last week's joint workshop with a consensus that an easement might be presented to Webb to access property across the western border of the Business Park. However, on Monday, the city manager reported Webb preferred an alternative solution "that Eddie Wiles brought up" during discussion last week, Fuller said. Wiles is the chairman of the IDB.

The eastern route offers more advantages to the city, Fuller said.

"This way, if we go north or northwest, we won't have to worry about that easement" on the west side of the park, the city manager said.

Harder's 46.2 acres are priced at some $4,700 per acre and, while it's to be bought with city money, discussion among members of he IDB and the Council revealed the IDB has money available from its sale of day care center property across from Westhills Elementary School.

Expansion of the business park is seen as important by Terry Wallace, the city's industrial development director, who said when big companies look for new locations they frequently want large tracts of land. Without that, such new employers might not consider Lewisburg as a prospective location.