The Ardmore Development Authority Board of Trustees set the stage during its board meeting Monday for possibly moving beyond litigation in its pursuit of a right of way owned by Highway 53 LLC. The ADA also put forth a mechanism for acquiring additional land in the process.
Following two executive sessions, the board approved two resolutions.
1. To authorize the chairman, acting with the advice of development legal counsel and interim president, to request city of Ardmore approval of indebtedness to be incurred by the ADA and to be used in support of the Ardmore Industrial Airpark Project, including land acquisition, litigation and settlement, and other project-related costs.
2. To authorize chairman, acting with the advice of development legal counsel and interim president, to guide and direct settlement and mediation discussions related to pending litigation and project issues.
Dan Batchelor, attorney for the Center of Economic Development Law, told the board that based on the firm's evaluation, it is the recommendation that the authority should pursue extra funding for the action. Brian Carter, ADA interim president and CEO, said the action was not specifically tied to any land, nor was there a specific amount of funding detailed for the action. Those figures would be finalized in negotiations and presented to the city when the request for indebtedness is made.
"This is not linked to a certain piece of land," he said. "We're not ready to be specific about this, and we don't have our hands around a number. On the day this happens, the acreage will be clear and the amounts will be clear."
In July, the ADA authorized Carter to negotiate, develop financing and contract to acquire up to 275 acres at a cost not to exceed $2.8 million. Monday, Carter said the land in the first resolution could include the right-of-way land and other lands belonging to Highway 53 LLC. The resolution did clarify litigation, which is in regard to 27 acres set aside for the right of way.
A difference, Carter emphasized, is that the new resolution included language about approaching the city to request approval of indebtedness.
The Ardmoreite asked Carter if the $2.8 million previously approved was not sufficient to acquire the land, as settlement talks have taken place since July. Carter said negotiations are ongoing and would remain confidential.
A map drawn up for the creation of a transloading facility, which is nearly complete, included plans for the land owned by Highway 53 LLC. An appraisal of the land gave the 27.3 acres involved in the right of way a value of $8,000 per acre. An additional 207 acres were appraised with a value of $2,500 per acre. Carter said the land was appraised with an agricultural value which is how it's zoned within the city of Gene Autry. Overall, the valuation of the acreage is $735,500.
Carter said mediation talks ordered by District Judge Lee Card have not begun yet, and would take place before Feb. 14.
In another action taken by the board, Gary Farabough was named chairman of the board for 2014. Current chairman James Chambers would assume the position of vice chairman, and Chris Sandvick will serve as treasurer.