City Council tables land deal

Waynesboro City Council has tabled for two weeks its consideration of a land deal that would put city taxpayers on the hook for $3.475 million to purchase land for a business park.

Without comment, the City Council voted unanimously Monday night to table a resolution that would authorize City Manager Mike Hamp to close a deal to purchase a 170-acre property located off South Delphine Avenue at the interchange of Exit 96 on Interstate 64 now known as Waynesboro Opportunity Park.

The matter will next come up for consideration by the Council at its July 25 meeting.

An informal poll of City Council members reported in the News Virginian over the weekend had found three of the five members of the Council – Mayor Frank Lucente and City Councilmen Mike Harris and Jeff Freeman – were planning to vote in favor of the resolution.

Waynesboro Economic Development Authority Chairman Tom Reider gave his endorsement to the deal at Monday’s Council meeting.

“This is the right thing to do for our future. I call on you to seize this moment so that future generations have similar opportunities that we have here today,” Reider said.

Questions have been raised since details of the proposed deal first became public late last week regarding the purchase price and the cost to get the property into a marketable state. A presentation by Economic Development Director Greg Hitchin told City Council Monday that the projected cost to the city for infrastructure improvements in the business park at $7.3 million – pushing the overall cost to the city close to the $11 million mark.

Presentations by Hitchin and Assistant City Manager Jim Shaw both referenced a projected 20-year buildout for the park.

The property is owned by attorney Roger Willetts of Afton and Staunton auto dealer Charlie Obaugh and his son, Eric. Willetts and a company in which he is an officer were major contributors to Lucente and Vice Mayor Bruce Allen in their 2008 City Council campaigns.


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