A proposed land donation of approximately 124 acres from EIDP, Inc., formerly known as E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, to Henry County was approved at the October 24 Board of Supervisors’ meeting.
Several county facilities – including Henry County Department of Public Safety, the Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy and a storage building – are located on the property, Henry County Administrator Dale Wagoner said, and added that the county had been leasing the land from DuPont for several years.
“In years past, it was not practical for DuPont to sell that property or to donate it because of the environmental constraints that they had with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), so they were only able to lease that to us in the past,” he said.
Wagoner said all the environmental issues have been mitigated and there’s now clearance for DuPont to now transfer ownership of that property to the county.
“The county already owned the buildings that were sitting on the property, but technically we didn’t own the land that the buildings were sitting on,” he said. “So, in this case with the donation of the land coming to us now, the county will own the land that the buildings are sitting on.”
Wagoner said the land donation doesn’t cost the county anything, but it also won’t save any money either because the county’s lease payment to use the land was equivalent to the amount of taxes owed on the land.
“So, now they won’t be paying taxes, but we won’t be paying lease either. It’s still a net zero anyway you look at it,” he said.
Wagoner said the current plan for the land is to continue the county’s operations currently housed on the site.
Because the agreement includes areas like the parking lot, Wagoner said the county is provided more opportunities for fire and EMS training and law enforcement training.
“We’ve also had some interest from the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) about using some of the parking lot for driver training for CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) drivers,” he said.
County officials also stressed that there are a few steps that need to happen before the proposed land donation is finalized.
While there is no definitive long-term plan for any of the other property that is essentially in use by Public Safety, Wagoner said there was some discussion in the Board of Supervisors’ planning meetings about eventually locating all public safety functions in that complex.
This would include the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Henry County Animal Shelter.
“Right now, we don’t have a financial plan to get to that point,” he said.
Wagoner said DuPont still owns other land in the area.
“DuPont will still maintain ownership of several hundred acres of land on the backside of the property, and anywhere there’s still ongoing environmental litigation matters,” he said.