Justin Catanoso has a very informative piece today in the Triad Business Journal. Much of his article is quoted below:
"It promises to be a classic real estate showdown -- development vs. preservation -- with hot-button issues such a gated golf course community and fragile ecosystems being argued by prominent corporate attorneys for both sides."
"... Yet this week, Isaacson asked emphatically: "The big question here is -- what does the state want to do here?"
That answer is already known. On Aug. 22, Lewis Ledford, director of the Parks and Recreation Division of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, wrote Guilford County Manager David McNeil, saying:
"From the outset, state parks identified the properties (considered in the rezoning) appropriate for addition to the Haw River State Park based upon natural resources, habitat and location... Unfortunately, we were unable to secure permission to appraise the properties prior to the assemblage of the development proposal... Bottom line, we remain interested in acquiring the property and have the funding options in place to be able to close in a timely manner."
"...So, is the state willing to pay the three property owners of the 690 acres roughly the same amount of money Bluegreen has agreed to pay?"
"Sue McBean, the superintendent of the Haw River State Park, knows that's a sensitive issue."
"We can pay between $16,000 and $20,000 per acre for that land, which is what we believe the developer is paying," McBean says. "We are definitely not looking to hurt any of the property owners. If we had been able to make those appraisals two years ago, this all could have been resolved."
"...At the moment, where do the commissioners stand?
We managed to reach seven of the 11 commissioners this week. Each one said he or she is keeping an open mind and wants to hear from both sides. But four -- Gibson, Linda Shaw, Kirk Perkins and Carolyn Coleman -- say they are leaning against the rezoning."
"The other three -- Skip Alston, John Parks and Billy Yow -- say they are undecided."
"...Meanwhile, Gibson, the board chair, says, "In a perfect world, I would rather see a state park out there."
"...None of the commissioners says the estimated $360 million that Patriot's Landing could add to the county tax base when fully developed is a persuasive argument by itself. Coleman worries that with 775 homes, the county would likely have to build a new school in the area, which might not be offset by the tax-base gain."
"For his part, Perkins, whose district encompasses most of the land in question, pretty much knows how he will vote. He points out that he is an Eagle Scout and member of the Nature Conservancy."
"This is an opportunity we don't want to miss," he says, "not just six months from now, but 25 years from now."