Development authority asks Berkeley County for loan

September 23, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. Faced with high monthly payments on an unfinished business park and little cash on hand, the Berkeley County Development Authority asked for a $500,000 loan Thursday morning from the Berkeley County Commission.

All three of the county commissioners expressed support for a five-year loan, which would be repaid with no interest as properties in the business park are sold.

In December 2003, the Development Authority purchased 326 acres at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Tabler Station Road south of Martinsburg for $4.1 million. Of the price, $1.1 million is being paid directly to the former owners of the land by monthly payments, while the rest is being paid quarterly to a consortium of nine banks that financed the sale, Development Authority Executive Director Bob Crawford told the commissioners.


"Very frankly, we are running out of funds to cover those notes," he said.

The Development Authority - a County Commission-created board responsible for bringing businesses into the county - had more than $1 million in its account before buying the property.

After paying for various studies and surveys and making payments, it now has about $100,000, Crawford said.

He said the Development Authority needs at least $100,000 in the next 30 to 45 days to continue making its payments.

A few lots in the Tabler Station Business Park have been sold or might soon be sold, but much of the property remains inaccessible. The western portion of the land can only be accessed via a dirt path, Crawford said.

A $1.2 million grant has been obtained to put in an access road, and plans call for adding a second road inside the park.

Crawford and James Seibert, president of the Development Authority, said the lots will sell once all of the infrastructure is in place.

With the business park's location across from Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport and the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing, airplane parts suppliers might be interested in buying land in the park, Seibert said.

The commissioners said they would take action on the loan request after a few details have been worked out between the county's attorney and the Development Authority.

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