Ritchie County Economic Development Authority Awarded $ 900,000 for Unlawful Trespassing by Developer | News, Sports, Jobs
HARRISVILLE – The Ritchie County Economic Development Authority last month received over $ 900,000 in damages against a Clarksburg developer for unlawful trespassing.
In July 2002, Ron Lane, president and owner of Ronald Lane Inc., requested EDA’s help in securing a grant for a water and sewer extension on his property along US Highway 50 near of Ellenboro, according to a press release from Windom Law Offices. LLC, Harrisville.
Lane also asked EDA members to help him get approval from the West Virginia Department of Transportation for “An interruption in the controlled access to Route 50 and the installation of a turning lane along the westbound lane of the highway on his property”, the statement said.
In return for the help, Lane claimed he would develop “Several commercial attractions” on the property consisting of a hotel, swimming pool, restaurant, convenience store, gas station, fast-food restaurant, car wash, mall and tractor equipment store, the statement said.
In January 2008, Lane entered into an agreement with Ritchie EDA Executive Director Kent R. Spellman in which he agreed to cede a 10.8 acre parcel to EDA as part of a separate park site. Ritchie County industrialist, the statement said.
The property was used as collateral for government funding. Lane received $ 1.1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and a loan of $ 261,000 was taken on behalf of the Ellenboro Lamberton Civil Service District and the EDA, the statement said.
While the water and sewer works were in progress, Lane signed the deed of ownership of the land to the EDA in October 2008 and, as expected, the EDA pledged that the land as collateral “in a trust deed to secure the repayment of the government’s infrastructure loan to the Ohio Valley Regional Council”, who helped raise funds, the statement said. Loan payments were to be made with the revenue from water and sewerage charges to the proposed Ritchie Center.
“This (the project) never became the shopping center we were told it would be” Harrisville Mayor Alan Haught said.
In 2011, the disruption of the controlled access to Route 50 and the construction of a turning lane were approved.
“Immediately thereafter, witnesses testified that RLI is focused on Marcellus Shale’s highly profitable natural gas boom,” the statement said. “Instead of the proposed commercial retail project, RLI transformed the Ritchie Center site into a pipeline tank farm which was leased to Dominion Energy.”
From 2011 to 2016, RLI used the site for hydraulic fracturing and leased it for oil and gas industry purposes, the statement said. RLI received $ 3,000 per acre per month for a three-year term, for a total of over $ 2.4 million, of which $ 1.166 million was paid to lease the 10.8 acres owned by EDA .
“Lane did not advise RCEDA of the rental agreement or of the payment”, the statement said. “He testified that he needed the prepayment to pay for the $ 3 million in development costs needed to make the Ritchie County Industrial Park site property usable by the tenant, Columbia Gas.”
The statement said Lane said his company had carried out site development work on the leased property and “RLI did not produce the paid invoices to justify such expenses.”
In February 2017, Lane and his son came to an EDA board meeting and requested the transfer of the 10.8-acre parcel of land, which Haught said was still being used as collateral for the loan intended for the water supply and sewerage project, the release said.
Lane claimed the 10.8 acres were ‘returned’ to him because RCEDA did not secure additional government funding from WVDOH for a separate access road to adjacent Ritchie County industrial property, which was vacant. at the time. “ the statement said.
The agreement between RLI and the EDA did not include any condition under which the land could be reconciled.
“Nonetheless, Lane warned the RCEDA board of directors that unless he returned the 10.8 acres to his business, he would ‘bring in the big dog lawyers’ and take them back,” he said. -he adds. the statement said.
Lawyers from two law firms contacted the EDA lawyer to demand the return of the land to RLI and after attempts to negotiate a declaratory judgment was filed on behalf of RCEDA against RLI in July 2018.
“It’s just a case where Ron Lane wants to eat his cake and have it too” Rod Windom of Windom Law Offices, PLLC in Harrisville, said.
The lawsuit demanded proof of the deed transfer for the 10.8 acres of RLI to the EDA “And to award him damages plus interest for the sums of the lease which were unduly paid to RLI”, the statement said.
Lane appeared before Third Circuit Court Judge Timothy Sweeney and a six-person jury last month.
“The RCED has filed a post-trial motion for the award of pre-judgment interest on the amount of the jury’s verdict from 2017 to verdict” Scott A. Windom, said lead counsel for EDA. “This was the length of time that RLI enjoyed the use and benefits of RCEDA money and those dollars should be returned to the claimant.” If granted, this interest will bring the total amount to over $ 1.2 million.
Candice Black can be contacted at email@example.com.