Beaufort News

County Council delays park purchase to review appraisals

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  • Beaufort County Council unanimously agreed Monday to send a purchase of Beaufort Commerce Park back to committee so two new appraisals can be vetted.

    Chairman Weston Newton proposed sending the item back for review. Only one council member was needed to force a vote on the delay, but no one objected.

    Two appraisals on the property have been completed; one puts the park's market value at $1.64 million, the other at about $2 million.

    Both reports contain dozens of pages explaining their calculations. Council members have been sent copies of the reports, but have not yet met to discuss them.

    Returning the proposal to committee could push any purchase of the park back by more than a month.

    Three rounds of approval are required. County Council voted twice to buy the park for $2.5 million from the Lowcountry Economic Network before voting Feb. 14 to postpone a final decision for 60 days.

    Council members seemed to agree Monday that if a committee alters the purchase price, the proposal's vote count would reset and it would start back at the first round of approval.

    Full council meetings are held every two weeks, which means final approval with a revised price -- if it continues to advance -- might be as far away as mid-June.

    Meanwhile, the foreclosure clock is ticking.

    S.C. Bank and Trust has filed foreclosure papers on behalf of five banks that jointly loaned the Lowcountry Economic Network money to buy the park in 2006.

    To satisfy the $2.58 million debt, the bank wants the property to be sold at auction. The banks also seek a deficiency judgment, which could compel the network to pay up, if the sale of the park doesn't satisfy the full debt.

    Lowcountry Economic Network executive director Kim Statler has said she cannot shield her accounts. A deficiency judgment could destroy the organization, she said.

    Four residents spoke to the council in opposition of the purchase, calling it a "bailout" and a "golden parachute."