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Letter to the Editor

Rainsford writes to "set the record straight"


web posted January 9, 2009
Dear Editor:
Mr. Brite’s presentation at the County Council Meeting on Tuesday night and your reporting of it leave a distorted picture of the facts of the case. I am writing to set the record straight.

Yes, the water and sewer lines and the road serving Mr. Brite’s house are not yet completed.  Mr. Brite’s house, which is under construction, should be completed in the coming weeks.  So too will the water and sewer service be completed: the lines are entirely installed, the sewer pump stations are in; all that remains are to complete the wiring of these pump stations and to get them started. The lines will then be tested and permits issued by DHEC. As for the road, all storm drains have been completed; curb and gutter has been installed the entire length of the road; the rock base is in place; all that remains is the fine grading and asphalting. We anticipate that the completion of the paving will be accomplished by spring. While we regret that the paving has not been done before now, this will not keep Mr. Brite from moving into his house, and, in a couple of months, the road should be completed as well.

The expansion of Mount Vintage which began in 2006 is a large project consisting of adding nine additional holes to the existing eighteen hole golf course, 274 additional single family lots, and a 51 unit patio home neighborhood called “the Village.” This project has required an investment of over $17 million. To date we have invested $16,656,970 and calculate that we have only $368,113 left to spend.  We are currently 97.84% complete.

Unfortunately, the severe economic conditions caused by the slowdown in the real estate market, the unprecedented financial turmoil, the credit crisis and the recession have all combined to make real estate development projects like ours extremely difficult. We have struggled this past year to meet our obligations and to complete all work associated with this expansion. Since the financial turmoil which began over the weekend of September 14, 2008, we have been unable to secure additional funds from our lenders to allow us to complete the infrastructure work. As I stated in the meeting, the banks have completely closed their doors on real estate loans which are to be repaid from real estate sales.

The mortgage loan which you reported our closing on December 18, 2008 was not new money, but was simply the securing of a loan which was originally made on June 26, 2008 and which we had agreed to collateralize with the property once the appraisal was completed. These loan funds had been expended during the summer for infrastructure work which had been completed earlier.  Despite the unfavorable financial conditions, my partner, Talmadge Knight, and I remain deeply committed to Mount Vintage. We believe that we will soon be able to secure the resources to complete the infrastructure and to continue to operate and develop Mount Vintage into one of the finest communities of its kind in the Nation.

In his presentation Mr. Brite made a major issue over the fact that a bond securing the completion of the project had not been posted when we began the development of the project.  At no time did the County of Edgefield, its Administrator, its Planning Commission, or its Chief Building Official request us, or require us, to provide any performance bond to insure the completion of the infrastructure improvements.  Moreover, at the meeting on Tuesday night, Mr. Guy Muller of the Building and Planning Office was unable to recount any instance where Edgefield County had required any developer to provide a performance bond for any subdivision in Edgefield County. If no other developer had been so required to post such a bond, then why should we?

At all times we have conformed with the requirements of Edgefield County as they were laid out to us.  The subdivision plats for expansion were presented to, and approved by, the Edgefield County Planning Commission on January 12, 2006 and recorded in the office of the Clerk of Court. At every stage the Edgefield County Building and Planning Office was provided with copies of engineering plans and specifications which were all presented to, and approved by, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. We have a long history at Mount Vintage of performing quality work and almost any disinterested observer would agree that what we have created at Mount Vintage ranks among the finest projects of its kind.

Edgefield County citizens may also be interested to learn that this new expansion at Mount Vintage has provided Edgefield County with 2008 tax revenue of $349,148.03. A County Council which spent over fifteen minutes of its meeting discussing the merits of a $9,000 cut in personnel costs in the Tax Assessor’s office should be appreciative of this additional revenue. Moreover, county citizens might also be interested to know that the entire 2008 tax revenue at Mount Vintage was $1,450,041.52, representing 11.41% of the total real estate tax revenue for Edgefield County. But for the investments which we have made at Mount Vintage, the property taxes paid by county property owners would be considerably higher than they are.

Finally I will note that at the conclusion of the discussion on this issue on Tuesday night, Chairman Kneece said to me, “We’ve worked together for quite a few years ....”  Indeed we have, and if in those years he has ever seen me fail to stand by my word, if he has ever seen me take any action adverse to the public interest, if he has ever seen me profit at the expense of the public, I would like to know when that was.  Although we have experienced some difficulties during this past year, I have a well-documented record of more than thirty years in business and that record should mean something to Mr. Kneece.

    Very truly yours,
    Bettis C. Rainsford
    Edgefield 




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