Let’s hope sale of Village goes as purchasers say

Published 10:10 am Thursday, May 30, 2019

County commissioners were caught by surprise last month when representatives from Montage Living came to visit at their regular monthly meeting. They needed an official approval from a local elected body – that would be the Davie County Board of Commissioners or the Bermuda Run Town Council – in order to obtain special tax-exempt financing to buy Bermuda Village.

Montage chose Davie County. Why? Commissioners asked, and didn’t get a straight answer. According to a Montage attorney who spoke that night, the company thought it would be better to go to the commissioners. “Someone had been instructed by the purchaser (Montage) that we should come here.” He went on to say they looked at meeting calendars and chose to come to the county.

Commissioners balked. And rightly so.

The sale of Bermuda Village is a big deal. The sale of Bermuda Village to a non-profit is an even bigger deal. There are property tax implications. Many of the residents own their homes. There are services available to the residents, and agreements between the residents and country club.

Our board of commissioners said such a decision should fall into the hands of the Bermuda Run board, and they were right. They weren’t just passing the buck on what could be a controversial decision, they were putting it into the hands of a more local government. Bermuda Village is in the town limits of Bermuda Run. Town council members are more likely to know people in Bermuda Village, and are more likely to be accessible to those residents with concerns.

It makes you wonder why Montage went to the county in the first place. And why the company was in such a hurry and hadn’t notified residents or the Bermuda Run board any earlier.

After the county sent the matter to the town, Montage started meeting with residents. They say the tax implications for the town and county will be minimal. The low or moderate income units that must be maintained will be few, and it will not affect those who own their villas or condos.

In fact, they say very little will change other than the ownership.

We hope they’re right.

But history tells us that a developer will say just about anything to get what they want – whether on purpose or on just wishful thinking.

Oak Valley used to be a dairy farm and remote woodlands. Those developers needed rezoning – or permission from the county – to build the development. At the time, Davie commissioners were worried about housing developments because of the added pressure on county services, especially schools.

Oak Valley developers had an answer for that. The impact on the schools would be minimal, they said, because the houses in Oak Valley would be on the higher price range and not affordable to young families with school-age children. They convinced county commissioners that it would pretty much be a community of retirees.

Well, whether the developers believed that or not, it didn’t turn out that way. Oak Valley – a wonderful neighborhood and great addition to Davie County – could just about support its own school.

Yes, Bermuda Village is being sold to a non-profit, nothing can be done to stop that. We can only hope that the developers are telling us the truth, and not just what they want us to think will happen.

– Mike Barnhardt