Commissioners buy neighboring land

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The holdings of Beaufort County became one property larger at the most recent meeting of the county commissioners.

On Nov. 1, commissioners voted 7-0 to acquire the property located next door to the Beaufort County Administrative Office at 117 W. Third St. in Washington. Previously the law office of attorney Frank Johnston, then that of David Francisco, Francisco agreed to sell the property to the county.

For $10,000 in cash, and payments of $1,670.57 a month for the next 15 years, the county purchased the land and office on it for a total of $235,000.

The county is not taking over the property just yet, however: for the next year, Francisco will lease the property from the county for $750 a month and provide all yard and building maintenance.

County Manager Randell Woodruff said county administration found out about the availability of its neighboring lot the same way everyone else did: they saw the for sale sign.

“While the county does not have any immediate plans for the property, it is essential to plan for the future,” Woodruff said. “The land itself is more valuable than the building. The land around the property is already owned by the county and this is a smart decision to acquire the property for future enhancement and flexibility of the county government complex here in downtown.”

When the property was previously up for sale several years ago, the county made an offer that was not accepted. A public hearing about the purchase drew no speakers, though Commissioner Stan Deatherage did say, “What the public needs to know is Francisco is doing the county a favor.”

In the same meeting, the county also opted to renew a $1-per-year, 10-year lease of the former Beaufort County Health Department building in Belhaven. The leaseholder is the Christian Church in Belhaven, on behalf of local Boy Scouts.

According to commissioners, the Boy Scouts and troop leader Seth Latham had been good caretakers of the building, putting a new roof on the old building, along with making many other repairs.