- Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 22:43
- Published on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 22:43
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At a meeting Monday District 3 Supervisor Lynn Brownley confirmed O’Gara’s plans to purchase the county’s industrial shell building and surrounding 25 acres are still on track, but the closing will not occur until late March or early April.
“The O’Gara and Industrial Development Authority (IDA) contract has lapsed,” Brownly told citizens attending the Jan. 11 Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“There has been no closing. According to my information, the company is still interested in purchasing [the shell building and industrial park] property on similar terms. There should be a new contract and closing following the March 29 and 30 court date.”
New this week are appeals in Circuit Court that would challenge Westmoreland County Board of Zoning Appeals findings in concurrence with Zoning Administrator Robert Fink’s O’Gara site plan approvals. It is anticipated that questions associated with the site plan approvals will be included in the March 29 and 30 court proceedings.
The Virginia Supreme Court appointed Judge Jay T. Swett, retired Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Judge, to hear the case private citizens brought against the county government after judges from the jurisdiction’s own Fifteenth Judicial Circuit all recused themselves from hearing the arguments.
O’Gara has local government approval to utilize property bought from Bryan Chandler to train combat personnel for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. O’Gara Group’s training division provides DynCorp with the private soldiers that the major federal contractor deploys in major combat zones. The O’Gara facility that is situated on the outskirts of Montross includes a complex of shooting ranges, offices and classrooms.
One year ago the O’Gara neighbors in Westmoreland were surprised to learn that their local government had contracted to sell O’Gara Group the county’s industrial shell building and surrounding property. The legality of the initial sales agreement between the county and O’Gara subsequently became a subject of the Circuit Court proceeding scheduled for hearing later this year.
Part of the question in front of Judge Swett concerns O’Gara’s ability to locate its training establishment on the former Chandler property. The county’s official interpretation of the establishment’s relationship with existing zoning regulations is that the facility is a school that can locate on the Agricultural, A-1 land O’Gara bought from Chandler as a matter of right. No public hearings were necessary, the local government asserts.
Many O’Gara neighbors disagree that the O’Gara establishment should be construed as a school that can locate as a matter of right in any or all of the county’s zoning districts. It has been asserted by many private citizens that O’Gara selected Westmoreland County because it could not establish a facility in any other Virginia jurisdiction without having to be subjected to advertised public hearings and public scrutiny. O’Gara efforts to locate in several other Virginia localities were abandoned when prospective neighbors made their opposition known.
Soon after contracting to buy the shell building and industrial property, O’Gara Group attempted to raise money by selling public shares. The effort failed when the Securities and Exchange Commission advised the sales could not be offered due to O’Gara’s pending public contract with Westmoreland. One year later it is being widely supposed that the June 20, 2009 sales agreement between Westmoreland County and O’Gara was allowed to expire at the end of 2009 in order to give O’Gara Group the opportunity it needs to raise additional money by proceeding with its sale of public company shares.
O’Gara Group has all the county government approvals it needs to begin training the personnel DynCorp is expected to utilize. DynCorp appears poised to inherit many of the federal government contracts previously held by the federal government contractor that was previously known as Blackwater. Blackwater got in trouble after some of its employees were accused of engaging in criminal behavior in Iraq and Afghanistan.