Town’s appeal stalled

Published 9:31 am Thursday, June 28, 2007

By Staff
DCA director wants copy of resolution
Staff Writer
The appeal process initiated by Belhaven officials regarding the Wynne View project has been put on hold by the director of the state’s Division of Community Assistance.
The state agency filed a finding against the town for a $360,000 unpaid loan balance. Town Attorney Keith Mason, at Town Manager Tim Johnson’s request, filed an appeal of the state’s decision. Mason’s June 12 correspondence to DCA Director Gloria Nance-Sims also requests a meeting of town and state officials to discuss the performance finding.
A week late, Mayor Adam O’Neal sent a separate letter to Nance-Sims, advising the state that no official town action authorized any such appeal.
In a reply letter dated June 21, Nance-Sims writes that the DCA needs a certified copy of the official resolution adopted by Belhaven’s Town Council or other governing body authorizing the appeal.
O’Neal said in a telephone interview Wednesday that there’s been no such motion and no such resolution.
The mayor has maintained that council direction should have been sought, but it wasn’t.
Before the appeals process is resumed, O’Neal said, the Town Council “will have to talk about it,” which informs the public on the issue, he added.
Johnson, in an earlier interview, said he couldn’t understand why the mayor is trying to prevent the town from solving the problem.
In response to that statement, O’Neal stated, “The truth never stops a problem from getting solved, lies do.”
O’Neal alleges Johnson lied when he said an appeal did not need official council action.
O’Neal could not confirm that a resolution to appeal would be on the council’s agenda for its July meeting.
DCA’s performance finding prevents the town from receiving any assistance from the state agency until the finding is removed or the $360,000 loan balance is paid.
DCA, a division of the state’s Commerce Department, lent Belhaven $485,000 to salvage an entrepreneurial economic development project.
The town passed the money to the booster groups involved with the project. The money was used to make major repairs to the Wynne View building, which faced condemnation because of a faulty foundation. The lending agreement was such that the state would be paid back upon the success or settlement of a lawsuit Wynne View filed against the architect and engineer of the project.
The settlement amounted to $125,000, which was paid back to DCA, leaving a $360,000 balance.
Wynne View is a for-profit corporation created and jointly owned by two local nonprofit boosters. The Wynne View project was designed to be a profitable enterprise that would provide a sustainable revenue stream to the nonprofit boosters, who would use that revenue for other economic development projects in the area.