A stretch of land near the Sampson County Detention Center will continue to pay dividends for the county, which renewed a local farmer’s lease to tend it.
N.C. General Statute provides that any property owned by a local government may be leased or rented upon conditions determined by the governing body. The property is currently leased to Jesse Sumner of Garland Highway, Clinton, for the term Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2012, and Sumner recently indicated his desire to lease the property for another year-long term from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2013.
The Sampson County Board of Commissioners approved that lease, which will put more than $2,000 in county coffers.
At the beginning of 2011, Causey informed the commissioners of the county-owned property near the Detention Center, and said an inquiry was received about possibly leasing that property for agricultural purposes.
He said then that it was the intent of staff to publicly advertise the land’s availability to determine who else is interested in leasing the property, and then lease it to the highest bidder. Weeks later, in the wake of advertising and mailing of other notifications, the man who first made the inquiry was the only one who submitted a formal bid — it was Sumner.
The acreage, located off Fontana Street next to the Sampson County Law Enforcement Center, is actually two tracts of land totaling approximately 21 acres. An evaluation by Farm Service Agency officials showed 17 acres that was farmable.
When Sumner first approached the county about farming the county-owned land, assistant county manager Susan Holder called the situation “an uncommon occurrence.”
“Quite frankly,” Holder said at the time, “if this gentleman had not approached us, I would never have thought to lease the property for agricultural purposes.”
In June 2005, during the lead-up to the construction of the new Detention Center, the two tracts at the adjacent property were purchased, a 12.6-acre tract owned by Sarah B. King of Hickory and a 8.86-acre tract from Marie and Richard G. Eakin of Alabama. The two tracts, commonly called the “Britt property,” had the same date of purchase.
The agricultural properties are adjacent to land the county purchased for the jail. The 21 acres were bought by the county for around $175,000 when the decision was still being made as to where the Detention Center would ultimately be located.
A file was kept containing several names of those who might be interested in the land for agricultural purposes at the time the land was purchased. When inquiries were made last year by Sumner, in addition to the ads that were run, county officials sent letters to those who previously expressed interest. No other inquiries were received, and Sumner has farmed the land in the nearly two years since.
The commissioners agreed that relationship would continue, approving the renewed lease in its consent agenda this month.
“The Board of Commissioners of the County of Sampson hereby authorizes the county manager to enter into a lease of the aforementioned property with the lessee for the period Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2013 at a lease rate of $2,040,” the approved resolution states, “which is calculated at the rate of $120 per acre for the 17 farmable acres.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.