Board delays Williams Wharf decision

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 29, 2012 - 04:07 PM

The Mathews Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to delay making a decision on abandoning the road and public landing at Williams Wharf.

The decision came after a motion by supervisor Neena Putt to approve abandonment of the road failed on a 2-3 vote, with only supervisor O.J. Cole in support. A subsequent motion to delay by supervisor Charles Ingram passed with the support of chair Janine Burns and supervisor Edwina Casey.

The decision came after a 2½-hour public hearing that included a presentation by the Mathews Land Conservancy, which has requested the abandonment, and passionate arguments both for and against the request. Around 75 people attended the meeting.

County Attorney Richard Harfst told the board that Mathews had taken ownership of the property because he had suggested it. The county was serving as fiscal agent for over $1 million in federal grants as well as guarantor of the project, he said, so Mathews would be responsible if something went wrong and the funds were misused. Now, he said, "The county’s role as fiscal agent and guarantor has ended, and the time has come for the county to convey the property to the land conservancy."