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Rock sampling delays college's plan to close on land

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College doesn't expect any barriers to deal

August 18, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --Blue Ridge Community and Technical College's plan to close on the purchase of land for a new campus has been delayed by two months to allow for the completion of soil testing and rock sampling.

The environmental work is being completed by Terradon Corp., which was hired on behalf of the college by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, attorney Kenneth J. Barton Jr. said.

"Obviously, we're very hopeful it's not going to show anything," Barton said when asked about the possibility of finding orchard-related toxins such as arsenic in the soil.

Barton said the college doesn't expect the test results, due back in early September, to be a barrier to closing on the property, which could come on or before Oct. 8.

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In November 2009, the Blue Ridge CTC's Board of Governors agreed to buy 43 acres less than a mile from exit 12 of Interstate 81 for a new campus from Interstate Development Group (IDG) LLC.

Blue Ridge agreed to buy the property, which was said to be part of a farm, off W.Va. 45 west of Martinsburg for $38,500 per acre, or $1,655,500.

In June 2010, the Board of Governors voted to add two parcels amounting to 3.2 acres to the deal, Barton confirmed.

That additional acreage adjoining the initial parcel added $300,000 to the pending deal, but that expense is proposed to be offset by a $350,000 "developer credit" the college is slated to receive for building the access road into the campus, Barton said. The road was initially to be built by the seller, but a modification to the proposed real estate deal made the college responsible for the construction, Barton said. The seller, however, will still retain an easement, Barton said.

The additional acreage also will give the college ownership of land along W.Va. 45 and control of the new road's intersection, which Barton said is important.

Board of Governors chairwoman Maria Lorensen credited Barton, who has been retained as legal counsel by the college for his expertise in making sure that due diligence is being done up front.

In any building project, Lorensen said "bumps in the road" are expected and with this project the college will be able to absorb some expenses as long as they are not "gargantuan."

"We're at the point where we really want to make this happen," Lorensen said.

As part of a pending deal, IDG is expected to make a "substantial" charitable contribution to the college, officials have said.

IDG includes John E. Swift IV, Stephen E. Cunningham and David Mikula of Triple Crown Holdings LLC, Thomas R. Spaur II and Thomas R. Spaur III of Spaur & Spaur LLC of Ranson, W.Va., and Doug Copenhaver's Snowy River Holdings LLC.

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