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Dominion officially is renting county land in Lusby to contribute to an offsite location for its proposed liquefied natural gas export project.

After receiving no public comment, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved to close the public record and approve signing a lease with Dominion Cove Point for land adjacent to the Appeal Landfill in Lusby.

The four-year lease, which begins when all the signatures are collected, is for 79.4 acres of land in Lusby known as the former Waterford subdivision and the former Rawlings Property at the annual cost of $120,253.99. Up to 24 separate, successive extension terms of one month each are permitted.

Dominion has proposed to obtain a total of 179.1 acres — 79.4 acres leased from the county and 100 acres purchased from its current landowner across from Cove Point Road along Route 2/4. About 96.9 acres of that will be cleared and graded for use as construction worker parking, contractor staging for equipment and supplies and equipment assembly areas. A temporary access road extending from the existing Cove Point Road to this offsite area also is proposed.

It plans to donate the parcel it is purchasing to Calvert County after the project’s use of the site ends, according to Dominion.

The Calvert County Department of Public Works commissioned an appraisal that reported the value of a five-year land lease to be $7,623 per year per acre, according to a staff memo; applying that value yields an annual rental value of more than $120,000.

The lease states that Dominion will pay all costs of the ownership, operation and use of the premise during the term. The company also is permitted to construct, use, operate, manage and maintain improvements on the property for any lawful purpose without the need for additional or separate approval or consent from the county.

Any improvements Dominion makes on the land are Dominion’s property, and upon the lease termination, Dominion “shall remove any Improvements remaining on and restore the Premises as required by any of [Dominion’s] permits, approvals or authorizations. In the event [Dominion] is not obligated to remove any Improvements from or restore the Premises, [the county] shall be entitled to purchase from [Dominion] at nominal cost any Improvements remaining upon termination of this Lease, further provided that [the county] has then obtained all permits, approvals and authorizations required for it to take ownership and continue to use such Improvements.”

Dominion can, according to the lease, sublet the improvements to one or more subtenants for any lawful use.

The lease additionally states that the county shall not be construed as a partner or associate of Dominion in the conduct of Dominion’s business.

Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) questioned why a clause in the lease states, “[The county] shall use its best efforts to consummate a commercially reasonable sale of the Premises and Improvements as soon as practicable, not to exceed One Hundred Eighty (180) days from re-entry, and shall pay to [Dominion] the net proceeds of the sale.”

County Attorney John Norris said he believes it is an explanation of the county’s rights should there be a failure of rental payments. At the termination of the lease, the property shall be returned to the county, he assured.

“And that’s why it’s a lease ... and not a sale, because we will be getting the property back with the improvements on it,” Shaw said. “I just wanted to make sure that at that point in time we could — whoever is sitting as commissioners — could make their best judgment about the best use of the property.”

Norris concurred, adding, “And what we understood, though it has the least dollar value, it has the most significant impact and positive effect on the community and that is the construction of a parking lot for workers to park offsite and not have to travel down Cove Point Road to get to the work site.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Unanimously approved a $136,048 budget adjustment for fiscal 2014 for costs related to a new circuit judge and related items; and

• Unanimously approved a $34,000 budget adjustment for fiscal 2014 for County Services Plaza renovations to accommodate the county’s purchasing department and benefits and risk management office.

ascott@somdnews.com