sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

 
More on Monday night's county commissioners' meeting:

For the fourth meeting in a row, some Alamance County developers have pleaded with the commissioners for a resolution to a border skirmish involving some high-dollar houses straddling the Guilford-Alamance line. They’ve tried without success to get their problem on the agenda, so their only recourse has been to address the commissioners during the public speaking portion of the meeting, when they’re allowed three minutes to plead their case.

In a nutshell, developers Gail and Eddie Boswell have been working on a subdivision in Alamance County, part of which spills over into Guilford County. The Boswells claim they received permission, in the form of a letter, from a Guilford County clerk for several lots and two completed homes, valued at $500,000 each, to be listed in Alamance County. The Boswells reason that the only entrance to the development is in Alamance, so it makes sense that the entire development be listed there.

As she had at previous meetings, Gail Boswell expressed her frustration at not being able to get any redress from the commission. She said she’s provided commissioners with an affidavit outlining the dispute, but has trouble getting a response.

“I don’t seem to be getting very far,” Boswell said. “We’re not going to get anywhere until 11 commissioners read the affidavit.”

Eddie Boswell made the case that Guilford County was trying to reclaim parts of the development that are clearly in Alamance County.

“How is it legal that Guilford County to take back property that has always been in Alamance County?” he asked.

Further complicating matters is the fact that subcontractors who performed work on the two completed houses are caught in the middle of the situation.

Albert Freeman, owner of Freeman Electric Co., spoke out, saying he pulled his permits in Alamance County in good faith. But now he can’t get a final inspection because a hold has been placed on the houses while the dispute drags on.

“I think it’s a very poor operation,” Freeman said. “We’ve got no confidence in the government. In the middle of the ballgame, you’ve said, ‘Whoa, we want those tax dollars.’”

Best said that Guilford County has offered to perform the final inspections, but the Boswells won’t allow inspectors onto their property. To do so would give Guilford a legal advantage down the road, Gail Boswell said later.

County attorney Jonathan Maxwell said the clerk had no authority to cede the property to Alamance.

“The law is extremely clear that that (the Boswells) cannot rely on such a letter,” Maxwell said.

Commissioner Billy Yow presented what seemed like a reasonable solution, at least for the time being. He made a motion (which Arnold seconded) to grant Alamance the authority to complete the inspections so the subcontractors can get paid and the houses can go on the market. The two counties can hash out who gets the tax revenue at a later date.

“We can at least free up these subcontractors and allow them to be paid,” Yow said. “It’s crucial that they collect their funds so they can pay their hired help.”

But Davis did not allow Yow’s motion. Instead, he asked that a committee be formed to study the matter, not only to come up with a reasonable solution, but also to prevent such a dispute from happening again.

Yow volunteered to serve on the committee. But his colleague Skip Alston, now sitting at the other end of the table, protested.

“Wouldn’t you want someone from a neutral position to bring back unbiased information?” Alston asked.

Some things never change.


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