By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) discussed possibly terminating a lease agreement with Farmview Market after County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell reviewed the lease and reported “concerns” to the board at the last work session.
The county agreed to a 19-year lease for $1 per year to utilize the land behind Farmview Market in order to create an area of passive recreation.
But according to Jarrell, the lease could pose some drawbacks for the county.
“There are a few things in this lease that concerns me,” said Jarrell. “Ultimately, what gives me the most concern is using taxpayer money on something we do not own.”
Jarrell noted that the current lease agreement stipulates that any improvements to the land, which the county would pay for, must receive preapproval from Keith Kelly, owner of Farmview Market. The lease also stipulates that if Kelly sells the land to a third party, the county’s leased land and all improvements the county paid for will be transferred over to the new owners. The lease also notes that only improvements for recreational purposes may be carried out, but nothing is to be done to the land that would cause an increase in the existing insurance rate on the property.
“This made me scratch my head because any improvement we do on the property could increase the insurance rate,” said Jarrell. “That’s is another red flag for me.”
Jarrell laid out the course of action available to the BOC.
“You have a couple of options here,” said Jarrell. “You can terminate the agreement. Another option is to turn it over to the Recreation Department and let them plan out the project…and see if it will be approved by Mr. Kelly.
Ben Riden, the new county commissioner, was not impressed with the lease.
“I do not see any benefit for us,” said Riden. “This seems to me that this could be a black hole—pouring money into this and getting no return on it.”
Commissioner Andy Ainslie suggested seeking input from the Greenspace Commission or the Madison-Morgan Conservancy.
The BOC plans to do further research before making any decisions.
“We have been given some good options. We will have to take all of this into consideration,” said Chairman Donald Harris.