Forney Mayor Rick Wilson has issued a statement on the recent sale of the 212 South Bois d'Arc building in downtown Forney. His statement, in its entirety, is being published for review by the taxpayers of Forney.
February 8, 2018
Mayor Rick Wilson Statement on Recent Sale of Downtown Property
Recent reports are circulating regarding the Forney Economic Development Corporation’s sale of 212 South Bois d’Arc (the building leased by Crumbzz) to a family trust controlled by the EDC Board President. Like many Forney residents who have expressed concern over the manner in which this transaction transpired, and after inquiring into the sale, I too am deeply troubled over this matter.
Since becoming Mayor of our great community, I have fought to hold our local government to the highest ethical standards and accountability. In my opinion, the reported events fell far short of the level of transparency and fairness that I—and you—should expect from our local government.
To my knowledge, neither I, nor the City Council were afforded the opportunity to provide oversight of this sale. Having now been brought to my attention, I call for an inquiry into this matter by the City Council.
Please send any correspondence to my City email at RWilson@cityofforney.org.
Thank you for supporting accountability in our local government.
Forney EDC Sells Downtown Property to EDC Board President
Forney taxpayers may have reason to pay attention to the management of their Forney Economic Development Corporation, as well as to the minimal oversight that EDC Board Members are receiving from the Forney City Council.
Another very sweet unannounced property sale has transpired and because The Forney Post has a long history of reporting on operations at City Hall, it has been decided that the taxpayers have the right to know about the recent sale of the 212 South Bois d’Arc building.
Located in the downtown district, the historic 212 South Bois d’Arc building was purchased by the EDC in 2013 as part of an estate package that contained four properties owned by longtime Forney resident Howard Blackburn.
The EDC bought the building during the administration of former Mayor Darren Rozell and former EDC Director Kim Buttrum. At a time when the city’s direction was to buy-up downtown properties in order to control their development, while simultaneously assisting in the founding of the Downtown Business Association and the Forney Arts Council.
The purchase of this property was voted on and approved by the City Council, which was comprised of Mayor Darren Rozell and Council Members James Hatley, Darrell Hobbs, Ray Stephens, Andy Parker, Mary Penn and Robbie Powers.
After its purchase the building was extensively renovated and then leased to Crumbuzz Bistro owner, J. Sadler on a five year lease. Initially the Forney Arts Council shared a portion of the leased space and a small share of the rent, as well.
That five year lease has now expired. The council has turned over through election, and the EDC Board has changed direction and decided that its not a good idea for the EDC Director to play landlord to several old buildings.
Over the years, former EDC Director Kim Buttram, current EDC Director Warren Ketteman and EDC Board President Joe Dan McBeth have all addressed the council to request funding for maintenance and upgrades to EDC owned buildings in the downtown area. And always, the Forney City Council approved their requested expenditures.
Now without openly announcing the property for sell, or taking the sale specifics before the City Council for public discussion or approval, the EDC Board of Directors voted 4-0 to the sell the historic building to their longtime Board President, Joe Dan McBeth.
On December 5, 2017 Forney EDC Board Vice-President Scott Burrus signed the finalization documents to sell the property, and three specific details surrounding the deal may not sit well with Forney taxpayers.
#1 EDC President Joe Dan McBeth voted on the purchase of this property, and he voted several times to approve thousands of dollars in upgrades to the building after which he was allowed to purchase the building at market value.
#2 The sale of the property was not made openly available to the residents of Forney. Without doubt there would have been local residents and businesses interested in purchasing the building, which in turn may have increased the purchase price.
Apparently, the Council was initially informed that the Board was negotiating a sale of the property with Crumbuzz owner J. Sadler because as the buildings occupant his lease provided him "first right to purchase".
However, after Sadler twice declined to buy the building neither Director Ketteman nor any member of the EDC Board informed the City Council that Sadler had declined the purchase, or that the property would instead be sold to EDC Board President Joe Dan McBeth.
Reportedly the EDC listed the property for sale with an online Dallas realtor for approximately thirty days without receiving any bids. So according to the official minutes of the September 14, 2017 EDC meeting, the Board decided to provide McBeth with the same purchase price and first right privilege that had been offered the buildings longtime tenant.
Board Members Kym Tayamen, Fred Alexander, Jessica Browning and Amanda Lewis voted 4-0 to accept the $235,000 offer made by McBeth. EDC Vice-president Scott Burris and DeCarlo Coleman were absent from this board meeting, therefore they did not vote on the sale of the 212 Bois d'Arc building.
#3 The taxpayers may find irony in the fact that the City Council voted on the purchase of this property, and voted oversight approval on all the renovations to the building.
However according to City Attorney Jon Thatcher the decision to sell the property, and the manner in which the property sale was conducted, were at the sole discretion of the council appointed EDC Board of Directors.
The minutes to this meeting show that four volunteer appointed board members, not elected officials, were advised by EDC Director Ketteman and City Attorney Jon Thatcher that all they needed to do was "make a motion to cancel the sale of the property at 212 Bois d'Arc from Mr. Sadler, and allow Mr. McBeth to purchase".
When questioned about why the property sale was not brought before the City Council for approval, an email response received from attorney Thatcher stated, “Since the property belonged to the EDC, no approval was required by the city council.”
Joe Dan McBeth, owner of the State Farm Insurance office located on Main Street in downtown Forney, was appointed to the EDC Board of Directors in 2012.
The closing documents for the property sale reveal that the McBeth Family Trust purchased the building for $235,000.00, plus associated closing costs.
The attached “Special Warranty Deed with Vendor’s Lein” from American Natioanl Bank in Forney assumes the morgage the EDC had on the property, and a check in the amount of $73,900.75 completes the sale.
Longtime readers of The Forney Post will remember that this is not the first time the Forney EDC has facilitated a sweet deal for a collegue.
As the official minutes for the March 5, 2013 City Council meeting attest, the Council approved the sale of EDC owned property located at 127 Main Street to local realtor Matthew Malone for $35,000 and then approved an additional $40,000. EDC Incentive Agreement which provided funds for the renovation of the small dowtown property.
Written by: Denise Bell