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Originally published: 2013-05-07 13:17:13
Last modified: 2013-05-07 19:36:02

UPDATE: Templeton plans to withdraw offer

In a last-minute turn of events, Templeton Properties did not seek an extension on the former Watauga High School property deal from commissioners Tuesday.


Instead, Phil Templeton restated his intention to withdraw his $18.9 million offer at the end of the original due diligence period May 12 due to changes in Boone's multi-family housing regulations.


The Board of Commissioners is now considering relisting the property for sale as early as next week.


County Manager Deron Geouque said he received a letter from Templeton just before 5 p.m. Monday notifying him of the change of plans. Neither Templeton nor his attorney, Allen Moseley, spoke at Tuesday's meeting.


In an April 17 letter, Moseley requested that the county grant Templeton Properties a 60-day extension in the due diligence period, moving the end date from May 12 to July 11. The board was set to consider the request at its regular meeting Tuesday.


In his new letter Monday, Templeton said he plans to withdraw his offer at 5 p.m. Sunday.


"The (Boone) Town Council's recent adoption of the discriminatory, anti-multi-family housing regulations proposed by the 'Affordable Housing Taskforce' was the primary determining factor in arriving at this decision," Templeton wrote.


Among his chief complaints was that Boone's recent changes to its multi-family housing regulations extended the areas of Boone where no more than two unrelated people may live together. He also said mixed uses were "complicated by these regulations."


Templeton noted that developers must spend thousands for studies and plans before applying for conditional use permits, which may or may not be granted. He raised concerns that the new regulations require a developer seeking a phased project to either complete all of the commercial elements early on or provide a bond or other assurances that the commercial part will be completed in five years, "regardless of the market demand for the space."


He also complained about several town regulations on tree preservation, retaining walls, viewsheds and steep slopes -- regulations that were already in place when he made his offer last fall.


Finally, he said the proposed development would require more water than the Town Council had allocated. The council previously reserved 150,000 gallons per day for the property.


"These misguided regulations should not be blamed on the Boone Planning Board of Planning Director, Bill Bailey, or his staff," Templeton wrote. "They are not the culprits here."


Templeton said his current bid presented "an unacceptable level of risk for the development of the property as I had envisioned."


He concluded with a call for the town -- "under new leadership" -- to reverse its changes.


Commissioners said very little about the letter at the meeting Tuesday.

After returning from closed session to discuss attorney-client matters, Commissioner John Welch asked about the county's ability to put the 74-acre property back up for sale, he said.


County Manager Deron Geouque is still getting interest in the property, he said. Welch said the board took no formal action, but he said he felt the property should be listed at the same amount as the county countered for offers last fall: $20 million.


"I'd like to see that thing, first thing Monday morning, on the market," Welch said.


Chairman Nathan Miller said Tuesday he was disappointed the offer appeared to be crumbling, as he had spent a lot of time and effort on the matter. He disputed claims that he was in collusion with Templeton to offer the developer a lower price on the property.

"There is no grand conspiracy to get a lower price for Mr. Templeton," Miller said. "If nothing, I want to get more."