Chamber plans to sell land, pay off taxes

Published 6:09 pm Thursday, March 23, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce owes almost $4,200 in county taxes, according to a report from the Beaufort County Tax Office.

The taxes stem from a 0.56-acre parcel of land on East Water Street, donated by Marian Keech in December 2015.

Keech covered the county tax balance due in late 2015, as part of the donation, but in December 2016, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners declined to apply tax-exempt status for nonprofits to the property.

County taxes are due in the latter part of each year, and if not paid, a short grace period applies before the Tax Office releases a comprehensive list.

Chamber Executive Director Diana Lambeth said the organization was well aware of the pending taxes and has every intention to pay them with funds from the sale of the property.

“We have not ignored the taxes,” Lambeth said. “We’re working on selling the property.”

She said there is an interested buyer who may put an offer on the property within the next couple of weeks, but she couldn’t give further details. The Chamber originally hoped to use the land, which originally had a tax value of $385,000, for other purposes. The buildings on the land, however, were uninhabitable and lessened the property value, and the buyer from Fayetteville has yet to come retrieve them, according to Lambeth.

“I received a call from a third party that basically said, ‘Is the Chamber interested in selling the lot next to the hospital property?’” Lambeth recalled. “Financially, it would be good for us.”

Chamber President Dianne Bowen worked out an agreement with the Tax Office to pay $100 monthly installments for the last three months, and Lambeth said Bowen will ask to extend this agreement until the property is sold.

The East Water Street property was a point of contention with the Town of Belhaven in 2016, as it is located adjacent to what used to be the old Vidant Pungo Hospital building. During its efforts to reopen the hospital, the Town requested that the Chamber donate the land, but Chamber representatives declined, saying the organization had other plans for it to benefit the town.

Soon after, the Town asked the Chamber to vacate its longtime spot near the Southern Railways caboose and defunded the Chamber in its 2016-2017 budget.

The Belhaven Chamber is now located at 274 E. Main St.