By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK -- Owners of a Shenandoah County farm may help sell land in the Mount Jackson Industrial Park by making hay on the site.
But if the county property attracts a buyer, the farmers have to leave.
An agreement between the county and Dove's Poultry Inc. would allow the business to provide hay-cutting services on 28 acres of industrial park land off Turkey Knob Road and Dish Drive.
The county owns the vacant lot and recently put out a request seeking anyone or any firm that wanted to cut hay on the property. The county selected Dove Poultry Inc., owned by Edward A. and Jacquelyn E. Dove of 2130 Wissler Road, Mount Jackson. The agreement calls for Dove Poultry to pay the county $705 per year for use of the property.
The board revisited the agreement at a work session Thursday after members asked staff for clarification on an exit clause. Such language would allow the county to terminate the agreement at any time.
The agreement comes up for consideration at the board's regular meeting Tuesday.
Supervisor John "Dick" Neese and others voiced support for it.
"It'll look a whole lot better if hay's made off it, if you're looking for a prospect," Neese said.
But Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli reiterated concerns she has with message the county might send by letting someone farm hay on the property while the land remains available for sale.
"How will this look on our website, or how will this look in the promotional materials for the sale of the property that they're growing hay?" Baroncelli asked.
Acting County Administrator Mary Beth Price noted potential sale of the site would trump the haymaking lease. The county can break the lease If Director of Community Development Brandon Davis has a prospective buyer.
Haymaking occurred on the site about three years ago, but the county became unaware that the operation had stopped, Price said. Without someone to make hay on the property, the county would need to cut the vegetation at its own expense.
"So we thought this was a way we could generate a little revenue and still have the property taken care of," Price said.
Vice Chairman Dennis Morris said the situation would be different if someone planned to plant crops on the land. Haymaking equates to maintenance of the property, Morris explained.
Per the agreement, Dove keeps all hay cut for its own use, but must keep the property clear of debris. Dove cannot keep livestock or poultry on the property, nor can the business put signs on the land without the county's permission, according to the agreement.
The terms of the deal begin on the date of its approval and remain in effect until March 31, 2016. The term can be extended for an additional three years with the consent of the provider and the county.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org