Accomack County bid at auction Tuesday and in effect kept the Whispering Pines property. The highest bid was $9000 but the parcel has been appraised at over $260,000. County Administrator Mike Mason said that it is much better for the County to hold onto the property than to let it go for a small fraction of its value. Mason released the following statement:
“There were six separate parcels owned by Whispering Pines Inc. that were offered for sale at a tax auction held yesterday. These six parcels are collectively known as “Whispering Pines” and total over six acres. All six have recorded liens against them, entered by the County, for demolition of dangerous structures, debris removal and unpaid property taxes. The County has invested approximately $149,000 in this area, net of state grants, in order to return it to a safe condition and, as a result, has removed the blight that has infected this property for decades. Furthermore, over $41,000 in delinquent taxes is tied to these parcels. The preferred path would have been for the property to be sold at tax auction for an amount in excess of the lien the County had against the properties. If that had occurred, the County would have been made whole for its investment from the sale proceeds. Unfortunately that did not occur so at the auction the County acted to protect its interest and investment and purchased all six lots for $9000. The fair market value is estimated to be between $264,000 and $361,000. The County will now pursue a plan to see that the property is redeveloped with the intent of recovering all taxpayer dollars used to rehabilitate it. This could involve a public-private partnership or simple outright sale of the properties. The Accomack Board of Supervisors will dictate next steps.
“I was given the authority to bid and bid parameters by the Board during a closed session meeting. The County was prepared to bid up to its investment in the properties. Obviously, the bids that were entered were nowhere near this amount which prompted our action.”