Caswell County Board of Commissioners
17 May 2010
Caswell County Historical Association
Ms. Karen Oestreicher, President, Caswell County Historical Association, came before the Board to request renewal of the Caswell County Historic Jail Lease between the County and the Historical Association. Ms. Oestreicher requested that the terms of the renewal lease remain as they are currently, which consists of a 25-year lease for the sum of one dollar. Ms. Oestreicher added that the Historical Association has met the terms of the lease by using it as an educational tool for tours, etc. Ms. Oestreicher also requested that the Caswell County Historical Association be allowed to obtain a key to the Historic Courthouse in order to conduct tours on weekends. Ms. Oestreicher noted that sometimes they are not aware of weekend tours until the groups arrive. Mr. Michael Ferrell, County Attorney, requested that the Board allow him a moment to research the legal issues surrounding the Board of Commissioners granting a 25 year lease. The Board was agreeable to this. Chairman Ward noted that the Board would return to this issue.
Mr. Michael Ferrell, County Attorney, reported that after further research, he has learned that a lease for more than 10 years is treated by North Carolina General Statutes as a sale of real property and requires that it be done with all of the formalities of a sale, including, even in the case of dealing with a non-profit agency performing a public function, prior public notice before making the lease.
Mr. Ferrell added, however, that the County could grant the group a license to use the property for a period of time such as 25 years without going through the formalities of a sale of property.
Mr. Ferrell informed the Board that they have two options which are: 1) lease the property for the requested term by following the formal requirements for the sale of property including publishing a notice before taking the action; or 2) grant a license which does not require those formalities. Mr. Ferrell informed the Board that the license agreement may provide that the licensee be given advance notice before it is terminated, but the licensor, in this case, the County, has the absolute right to terminate the agreement. Upon questioning from Ms. Oestreicher as to what would be grounds for revocation of the license, Mr. Ferrell answered that there does not have to be grounds for revocation. Mr. Ferrell recommended that since the Historical Association is performing a public service for the County that a license would be sufficient. After further discussion, Commissioner Travis moved, seconded by Commissioner Carter to grant a 25 year license to the Caswell County Historical Association for the Caswell County Historic Jail, to contain the terms of the current lease. Commissioner Battle questioned why the Board would not wait until its next meeting in order to have the license in writing to review before voting on it. Commissioner Hall stated that he would be more favorable towards a nine year lease rather than a 25 year license at this point.
Commissioner Battle moved, seconded by Commissioner Hall to table the issue of the Caswell County Historic Jail until a document can be prepared for the Board’s review, and that the Board review both options as presented by the County Attorney to determine what is in the best interest of the County. The motion failed by a vote of four to three with Commissioners Travis, Carter, Jefferies, and Satterfield voting no. Upon a vote of the original motion, the motion carried by a vote of six to one with Commissioner Battle voting no. Mr. Michael Ferrell, County Attorney, stated that he would prepare a document for consideration by the Board of Commissioners and Caswell County Historical Association. Commissioner Jefferies moved, seconded by Commissioner Travis that the Caswell County Historical Association be given a key to the Historic Courthouse in order to conduct tours. The motion carried unanimously. Commissioner Hall stated that he thought it would be good for the record if the County Manager and Ms. Oestreicher met and put in writing what is expected to happen for future purposes.