ADOC has last say in sale

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2007

GREENSBORO &8212; &8220;From what I am hearing now, they (the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch) got a call to run the cows up Monday,&8221; Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, said about the timeline for the date of sale of the property. &8220;If they sell the cattle they are selling off a major component of the ranch.&8221;

Howard, who has worked to stop the sale of the property since it was announced at a July 11 press conference, said he hasn&8217;t received an official timeline for the sale from the Department of Corrections (ADOC) or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources&8217; State Lands Division (SLD), which will handle the sale. But Natural Resources Manager with the SLD William H. Brantley said the appraisal process for the ranch and other ADOC properties slatted for sale are already underway.

Brantley said the SLD normally handles the entire process, including appraisals, but said it is not unusual for departments selling land to handle them themselves. He said the ADOC will have to use an appraiser for the properties that is approved by the SLD, so there isn&8217;t much difference in the way they would be handled by the division.

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Brantley said the appraisal process can take as long as six months to complete depending on the size and complexity of the property being sold. For Howard, who is working to set up an audit of the ranch&8217;s income to show that the site is making money, not losing it, and thus negating the ADOC Commissioner Richard Allen and Gov. Bob Riley&8217;s reasoning for the sale, this provides more time to save the ranch.

Howard said he is sending a letter to state Attorney General Troy King as well to investigate the situation. He said he has asked that the ranch sale be put on hold until after the audit with the ADOC is complete.

Brantley said once the appraisal process is complete, though, the SLD can begin to move closer toward the sale.

Brantley said the SLD will look at the bids and forward the highest on to the head of the department requesting the sale, in this case Allen. He said it will then be up to Allen to accept the bid, negotiate a higher price with the bidder or reject it.

If rejected, the sale can again be advertised for bid again within a year without another appraisal, as they typically last a year, or the ADOC can retain the property and try again at a later date, said Brantley. He said there is no real way at this time to know how long the process will take.