08/12/07 — County commissioners to discuss land for Grantham school Sept. 4

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County commissioners to discuss land for Grantham school Sept. 4

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on August 12, 2007 2:00 AM

The decision to not place consideration of the Wayne County Board of Education's purchase option of a 46-acre tract for a new Grantham Middle School on the county commissioners' agenda Tuesday, was not made out of a desire to thwart building plans, county officials said. Rather, county Manager Lee Smith explained, the matter was left off simply because the commissioners hadn't had the opportunity to review it.

"We'd not gone over the details yet and there appeared to be some controversy," he said.

He explained that because he had been on vacation the last two weeks and had set the county's agenda via phone, he felt it was more prudent to wait, and the commissioners agreed.

"The reason it wasn't on the agenda was because nobody from the commissioners' side knew anything about it," Chairman John Bell said.

The school board's decision to move forward with the purchase option was made at its July 2 meeting.

The land, which is currently owned by Ruth Hardy, is located off of U.S. 13 in the Grantham community.

Of the $370,000 purchase price, the school board has already paid $11,100 to hold the option for the last three years.

"We're disappointed they did not put it on the agenda (Tuesday)," said county school Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor. "I sent a letter to Mr. Smith and the board on July 3 saying that we had taken action, so we would prefer it be approved sooner rather than later.

"The longer you wait, the more you get into that 11th hour."

Members of the Gran-tham community also came out in support of the purchase option at Tuesday's commission meeting.

"There is an absolute need for (the school). We've got to have it," said John Tart. "If you were to look over Wayne County, I don't believe you could find a more suitable site. It is the perfect site for a school, but if you let the option go by, the price of this land, in my opinion, will go up $2,000 an acre because the price of farmland is going to skyrocket."

Smith said, though, that the matter would be on the commission's Sept. 4 agenda. The option doesn't run out until Sept. 15.

"I didn't want to do anything detrimental to either side and I think there's plenty of time," he said. "The board of commissioners' responsibility is just to approve the price, and that's really all we have to do with it."

And, according to the summary appraisal letter submitted on July 2 to the school system by David Littleton with Wayne Appraisal Service, the $370,000 purchase price is accurate.

He appraised the property to be at $368,000 -- $8,000 an acre -- but he also said that the property could sell within a range of $350,000 to $390,000.

And so, Bell said, as long as the commissioners feel that price and appraisal are fair, he does not expect any opposition to the school board's decision to purchase the land.

"If the price is in line with what's right, we don't have a problem with that," he said.