Tazewell, Va. – Settling lawsuits with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s companies will add a lot of trail for ATV riders in Tazewell County.
The board of supervisors held a closed session Nov. 17 to discuss litigation with Justice low seam mining and Black River Coal Company. Following the closed session the board approved several motions designed to eliminate law suits those companies had filed against the treasurer’s office and the commissioner of revenue’s office.
The county will get access to more than 500 acres of land Justice owns in the northern district and will be able to develop ATV trails across the property. Justice will pay the county $298,026.40 which will cover all of the back taxes as well as penalties and interest on real estate and personal property up to 2019.
He will also pay $58,000 a year until the taxes, penalties and interest on his mineral holdings in the county are brought current. The purchase price of the easement for the trails is equal to the amount of taxes he has outstanding through 2018, after the earlier tax sale of his equipment. The purchase is contingent on satisfaction of those taxes by certified funds to be verified by an escrow agent.
Also included in the settlement is Justice's voluntary dismissal of his Justice Low Seam suit against the County seeking a refund of their 2016 Machinery and Tools Taxes and abatement of their 2017 Machinery and Tools Taxes, which has been pending since 2017. Justice further agreed to waive any claims with respect to the County's 2018 seizure and sale of more than $600,000.00 worth of his machinery and tools to satisfy his 2016 taxes. The County agreed to drop its claim for unpaid Machinery and Tools taxes from 2015 on another Justice mine, Black River, also a part of the 2017 litigation. Justice also waived his right to appeal 2017 and 2018 assessments of Machinery and Tools taxes on his mines which were made after the litigation was filed.
“The litigation was complex for both parties. This resolves the litigation and effectively exchanges a vast area for future ATV trails, to be built with grant funds we already have been awarded, for a disputed outstanding balance on unpaid taxes. The easement also moves the Pocahontas ATV trails significantly closer to Cavitts Creek Park, which is a major recreational priority for the County,’ County Administrator Eric Young said.
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