Settlement reached in Wynne View dispute

Published 3:23 am Thursday, January 18, 2007

By Staff
State in negotiations with Belhaven concerning repayment of loan
A lawsuit involving the Wynne View residential project in Belhaven has been resolved out of court.
Now the Town of Belhaven and the state, which both had stakes in the suit, are in talks to determine how much money they’ll get out of the deal.
Wynne View Inc., jointly owned by Northeastern Beaufort County Economic Developers and Community Developers of Beaufort-Hyde, was awarded a $125,000 settlement for its faulty-construction grievance. That money will be directed to pay back part of a loan the town received through the state. The loan was to pay for the structural repairs needed on the Wynne View building when its foundation began to give.
The state granted a $485,000 emergency loan to Belhaven to salvage the building paid for with nearly $1 million in state grants.
Deborah Barnes with the Department of Commerce indicated Wednesday the entire loan was to be paid back. In previous council discussions of the loan, some town officials and representatives of the nonprofit entities believed they would be exempt from paying back a portion of the loan, to the tune of $100,000. Barnes said Wednesday she did not have that understanding of the state’s financial agreement with the town.
In November, Wynne View took out a bank loan for $100,000 and Belhaven lent the for-profit an additional $5,000 to pay attorneys’ fees.
Dr. Charles Boyette, chairman of the Wynne View board, has said the corporation is in a funding crisis brought on by mounting legal fees and shoddy construction.
The building was paid for with an entrepreneurial empowerment grant. When the structure began settling, it was discovered the foundation would not hold and the building faced being condemned.
The current councilman and former mayor fought to save the structure. Through his and the town council’s efforts, a loan was secured through the state Division of Community Assistance, a branch of the Department of Commerce, to reconstruct the foundation and salvage the $1 million investment.
Boyette said Wednesday, the settlement reached would be used to pay back DCA.
The settlement was far less than Boyette hoped for, he said.
According to Boyette, the terms of the urgent-needs state loan were that the company “would pursue all legal ramifications that we could … to gain back moneys for damages” and that whatever money was recovered would go back to the state.
Now that the building has been restored to good condition, it has increased in value, Boyette said, in line with the increased value much of the property in Belhaven has seen in the last five years.
At the December town council meeting, Boyette pitched to his counterparts that the Wynne View property be put on the market and any profit made from the sale of the building be reinvested to spur on other economic development projects in Belhaven.
Wednesday he still saw that option as a real asset for the town if that action were OK’d by the Department of Commerce.
The councilman has estimated the building is worth close to $2 million and its sale could help the town’s industrial park secure a facility that seems to be the missing link for realizing the Beaufort-Hyde Construction project.
Beaufort-Hyde Construction is a proposed panelized housing plant that would be owned by CDBH, funding other economic development efforts in the region while providing its own surge of economic activity by being in operation.