By Stefanie Jackson- A local developer and lifelong Eastern Shore resident, Eyre Baldwin, of Southport Investors, acquired an industrial road from Northampton County following a contentious public hearing held during the Sept. 11 board of supervisors meeting, about a year after the conveyance first appeared on supervisors’ agenda.
Baldwin is developing property on Cape Charles harbor that will include a ship refitting facility. The industrial road is needed to move a boat lift to and from the facility.
The nearly 1.5-acre parcel, a section of Bayshore Road, is located on the south side of the harbor, near the former Bayshore Concrete plant.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has no interest in such a road and “Cape Charles has been very gracious and said they don’t want it,” Baldwin said. Supervisor David Fauber confirmed from town meeting minutes that the council approved of the purchase.
“Up until three months ago, you couldn’t get to Bayshore … without (Bayshore Road),” Supervisor John Coker said. “If you were here today and that new (Cape Charles Road) didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t even be thinking about … letting you buy (the Bayshore Road parcel),” he told Baldwin.
Bayshore Road connects to Bayshore Lane, which leads to the former Bayshore Concrete site. Because Bayshore Lane now also connects to Cape Charles Road, the site can be reached without using Bayshore Road.
“You’re one of the few people that’s spending a lot of money in this county, and I, for one, appreciate that,” Supervisor John Coker told Baldwin.
But no compliments were offered to Baldwin when the public hearing was opened and former supervisor Granville Hogg spoke.
Before Hogg could comment, Baldwin interjected, “Just keep it honest. Don’t be an ass,” as several supervisors were heard laughing.
Hogg was concerned about a resolution attached to the online agenda for the meeting giving the appearance that “the board of supervisors has accepted an offer of $10 prior to the public hearing … regardless of any other proposal that may be received.”
“It’s just a draft. I needed some number to stick in there,” Deputy to the County Administrator Janice Williams later explained.
“Does the board intend to accept any additional proposals after this hearing?” Hogg asked.
Chairman Spencer Murray spoke up. “This is a conveyance. It’s not an auction. You were on the board for four years, you should remember that. … This is a piece of property that we own and we can convey it for a dollar, or for anything.”
“What it is that you said is that you were accepting proposals,” Hogg reminded Murray before submitting an alternative proposal for consideration.
Hogg also asked if supervisors planned to eliminate the public right-of-way given when Cape Charles conveyed the property to Northampton in 1996, as recorded in the county deed book.
But that question went unanswered as Hogg handed the board the alternative proposal for the parcel on behalf of Cape Charles Seafood.
Hogg suggested the boat lift could be moved straight in and out of the ship refitting facility instead of around the curve on Bayside Road.
“Instead of using an industrial road that’s already built, we’d have to build a second industrial road parallel to it. … That’s not why we bought the park, we bought it for its infrastructure that’s already there,” Baldwin said.
“Granville never asks questions … they’re always lies,” he contended.
Fauber was concerned about people walking and biking “right through your operation,” but Murray said they could be rerouted.
Baldwin offered $50,000 for the property, about five times its appraised value.
Supervisor Oliver Bennett requested discussion of the matter in closed session before going to a vote.
Following the closed session, supervisors voted unanimously to sell the parcel to Baldwin for the amount offered.