Tag Archives: land

Land is not just money: appeal tax valuations today

Appeal today if you think there’s more to land (or business) and woods and fields and streams than money, unlike the Tax Assessors, whose revaluation would drive development into agricultural areas of the county where it doesn’t belong, while avoiding populated areas such as the south side of Valdosta. We can expect pipeline companies and utilities from other states to think nothing of pillaging our lands for their profit. We shouldn’t expect that of our neighbors whom we elected Tax Asssessors. If you have affection for your land, your county, your neighborhood, today’s the deadline to appeal your valuation. And there will be an election later.

As Wendell Berry said,

Whatever has happened in what economists call “the economy,” it is generally true that the land economy has been discounted or ignored.

Are the Tax Assessors boomers? Are you a sticker? Wendell Berry explains: Continue reading

Brad Lofton leaving Myrtle Beach, SC

Looks like Horry County, SC stuck to its initial three-year offer, both for Lofton, and for millage to fund his development authority there. There are things the newly-renamed Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority could do to let sunshine turn Lofton’s local land legacy green.

Jason M. Rodriguez and Amanda Kelley wrote for Myrtle Beach Online yesterday, Brad Lofton leaving Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation,

Membership to the EDC increased earlier this year, but revenue from the membership decreased by nearly $60,000, impacting the organization’s marketing services and more.

Loton has had many projects succeed, and met some challenges during his time in Horry County.

Earlier this month Continue reading

A billion people on solar: India

Figure 6: Solar Sheep (Concentrix Solar PV concentrator plant) Two professors in India have done the math and found that there’s plenty of available land in India (much of it on rooftops) to power its billion people on solar energy alone. And solar uses less water than nuclear or coal, also as we already knew for the U.S.

Today in The Hindu, India can meet energy needs sans N-power: Study,

According to their study, 4.1 per cent of the total uncultivable and Figure 3: 1GWh Land area per energy source waste land area in India is enough to meet the projected annual demand of 3,400 terawatt-hour (TWh) by 2070 by solar energy alone (1 terawatt-hour per year equals 114 megawatts). The land area required will be further reduced to 3.1 per cent “if we bring the other potential renewable energy sources of India into picture”, they claim. They conclude that land availability is not a limiting constraint for the solar source as believed. According to their study, 4.1 per cent of the total uncultivable and waste land area in India is enough to meet the projected annual demand of 3,400 terawatt-hour (TWh) by 2070 by solar energy alone (1 terawatt-hour per year equals 114 megawatts). The land area required will be further reduced to 3.1 per cent “if we bring the other potential renewable energy sources of India into picture”, they claim. They conclude that land availability is not a limiting constraint for the solar source as believed.

The graph above shows land occupation needed to generate 1 gigawatt hour (1GWh) for each of coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and solar. It is Figure 3 from the actual study, Is land really a constraint for the utilitzation of solar energy in India? by H. Mitavachan and J. Srinivasan, Current Science, Vol. 103, No. 2, pp. 163-168, 25 July 2012. More from the Hindu article, with graphs from the journal article:

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Where could we put utility solar in south Georgia?

Where could we find 380 acres for a 30 Megawatt solar plant in south Georgia? Here’s a clue from Texas.

Citizen Carol wrote for Texas Vox 6 January 2012, Austin Energy drought proofs its energy with new Webberville Solar Project

A number of years ago, the City of Austin purchased this land planning to install a new coal-fired power plant. When those plans fell through, a landfill was proposed for the site that now boasts 280 acres of solar panels with a view of downtown Austin along its horizon.
How about on the proposed coal plant site in Ben Hill County?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that big, or all in one place. How about on top of a landfill? How about on the cotton fields next to Valdosta’s Sallas Mahone Elementary School? Energy to air condition the school instead of drifting pesticides, and profit to the landowner! How about at the airport? At the mall parking lot? On top of the new county palace? On the warehouses in Hahira?

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Why private prison employees might not want to work too close to home —Barbara Stratton

Received yesterday on Video: Drive Away CCA radio. -jsq
Great interview John. The comment about employees not wanting to work at a facility in the same county they live in was an interesting thought relative to the proposed local employment benefits. When I worked for CCA in the inmate Mental Health unit at the Valdosta Correctional Institute we were always warned that keeping pictures of our families or anything personal on our desks was possibly dangerous and therefore not recommended. I loved my job there because being inside the prison meant we had to form close working relationships with each other and I love teamwork on the job and it was never boring. We had almost constant training hours warning us about the dangers of being in close contact with inmates and all the rules about interacting. Forheight=”1 instance we had one inmate who was a brilliant artist. He like to gift us with his artwork, which we were allowed to accept as a non-personal gift to be placed on the office walls. He was a very well behaved prisoner especially to females, but his beautiful artwork always consisted of some form of predator watching prey such as a cat watching a bird. We loved the artwork, but took note of the inuendos.

Prisoners were always given strict instructions that

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Sweetheart deal for private prison site?

CCA has a contract to buy the private prison site from a private landowner. But who did that landowner get the site from? The Industrial Authority! And the sale prices involved are rather interesting: the landowner gets almost 100% profit in five years. One person I showed them to immediately said, “sweetheart deal.” What do you think?

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) bought the site back in 1998 for $1,243,200, and sold it to the landowner in 2007 for 1,463,512, which is an increase of about 18% in almost 10 years or about 2% per year. CCA can buy it from the landowner in 2012 for $2,907,000, for an increase of 99% in about five years or almost 20% per year. Which is far more than the 20% in five years or about 4% per year shown by the assessed value. And this remarkable surge in the price of that land is during the worst real estate market since the Great Depression.

Does this look like a sweetheart deal to you?

DatePrice$ Increase% Increase% /yearFromTo
2012? $2,907,000 $1,443,488 99% 20% N.L. Bassford JrCCA
2012 $1,756,320 $   292,808 20%   4% Assessed Value
2007 $1,463,512 $   220,312 18%   2% VLCIAN.L. Bassford Jr
1998 $1,243,200 Camellia Investment Co. VLCIA
Prices in this table are taken directly from the legal documents.
All percentages are rounded and approximate.
Images of the deeds and plats are on the LAKE website.

Here is a petition for VLCIA to reject the private prison.

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Did they know it would be considered for a private prison at that time? —Barbara Stratton

Received today on News about CCA’s private prison Project Excel expected at Thursday’s VLCIA board meeting. -jsq
Do you know why the county sold this property for less than the assessed price to the current owner in 2007 minus the wetlands that interject? Did they know it would be considered for a private prison at that time? Now the current owner will make the million dollar profit instead of the county. Since this is considered industrial park acerage owned by the county why would the county sell it if an industry/business was not promised at that time? What is the 100 acres the development agreement says the owner will be given? Is that the 119 acres of wetlands? If the county decides not to allow the private prison what happens to the earnest money that has been deposited to date since that would not be an action by the buyer or the seller?

-Barbara Stratton

According to the online information from the Lowndes County Tax Assessors Office, parcel number 0156D 005 on W/S Perimeter Road was sold by “VALDOSTA-LOWNDES COUNTY” to “BASSFORD N L JR” on 14 November 2007 for $1,463,512 as fair market value :

Sale Information
Sale DateDeed BookPlat PagePriceReasonGrantorGrantee
11-14-2007 3967 072 PC A 3852 $ 1,463,512 Fair Market – Vacant VALDOSTA-LOWNDES COUNTY BASSFORD N L JR
02-13-1998 1514 0327 $ 0 Non-Market VALDOSTA-LOWNDES COUNTY

The seller was not the Lowndes County Commission, which would start with “LOWNDES COUNTY”, and it’s not the City of Valdosta, which wouldn’t be hyphenated with the county name like that. Could it be the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority?

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An Industrial Authority agenda with content! Including VSEB and land acreage!

Yesterday Andrea Schruijer promised to get an agenda for tomorrow’s 2PM Thursday 23 February 2012 Industrial Authority board meeting (101 N. Ashley Street) online. It’s there, and it has content! What it does not have is any mention of anything about Project Excel, or CCA, or the private prison, even though Ms. Schruijer told me yesterday to expect the board to say something about that. You can still express your opinion to them before then. And since this agenda says **TENTATIVE** maybe that item will get added before tomorrow afternoon.

Also missing is any item for the Strategic Planning RFP, even though that RFP says the board will review any responses received by their February board meeting.

What this agenda does have is numerous specific items under the usual broad headers such as Existing Industry/Project Report. So instead of listening to Col. Ricketts and trying to figure out what he’s talking about, you can see such things as “e-Snychronist® Existing Industry Retention and Expansion business information system (BIS)” in writing. You still don’t see names of the “five (5) Prospects” or the “three (3) companies that are developing expansion plans”. Maybe I buy the competitive information argument for the prospects, but I’m not so sure about the three expanding companies, especially if they’re already local. And considering the things VLCIA has tried to sneak in under cover of not mentioning competitive information, such as biomass and a private prison, I’m not sure I buy that argument at all.

Also on the plus side, the agenda includes an actual schedule for bids Continue reading

Who are the “local leadership” who approved CCA’s private prison?

They’re even quieter about it than the Industrial Authority, but the Valdosta City and Lowndes County governments are in the private prison deal just as deep.

Jay Hollis, CCA’s Manager of Site Acquisition, in his Valdosta-Lowndes County, GA / CCA Partnership: Prepared Remarks of August 2010, wrote:

Our Valdosta/Lowndes County site quickly became our primary due to its local and regional workforce, collaboration of local leadership, site characteristics, proximity to necessary services and infrastructure, and accessibility to name a few.
So who is this local leadership?
We look forward to working closely with Valdosta/Lowndes leadership as we move forward in the months to come.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a few folks that have been essential to the project:

Continue reading

Why did CCA pick Lowndes County for a private prison?

Apparently CCA picked Lowndes County for a private prison for reasons that were not what VLCIA’s consultant seemed to think would influence the selection.

According to Valdosta-Lowndes County, GA / CCA Partnership: Talking Points (undated, but it refers to “The agreement formalized by the Industrial Authority on 8/17”),

The Valdosta/Lowndes site became the primary due to the local and regional workforce, collaboration of local leadership, site characteristics, proximity to necessary services and infrastructure, accessibility, etc.
Nothing in there about low poverty or high wages. One could even read that the other way around, as in a low-wage population looking for jobs.

Looks to me like our Industrial Authority didn’t do much due diligence about private prisons.

Also note that the contract of 17 August 2010 between VLCIA and CCA was signed after the announcement in July 2010 that CCA had selected Decatur County. More about that in another post.

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