BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Jeff Earp, president of Brunswick Forest, has a new project in the works — but this time, it’s being planned north of Highway 17.
In a $1 proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Earp agrees to trade submitting a voluntary annexation petition to Leland in exchange for Leland installing adequate sewer infrastructure that would serve his 287-acre Old Town Creed Road property.
Once Earp submits a voluntary annexation petition to the town, Leland has 18 months to install sewer infrastructure. If Earp withdraws his petition, he agrees to cover all of Leland’s costs spent
In recent years, developer’s or property owner’s decisions to submit a voluntary annexation petition into Leland town limits has happened quietly, or at least, without prior written agreements. Leland and Earp’s MOU represents an explicit exchange of obligations in order to secure annexation. MOUs are not necessarily legally binding.
About the property
No plans for the 287-acre tract are available at this point. Earp plans to develop the 287-acre tract into a residential development with single-family homes, according to a town description of the MOU.
Jeff Earp is the only registered manager of J-Earp LLC. According to Secretary of State records, the state has flagged J-Earp LLC for administrative delinquencies in 2006, 2010, and 2012 for failing to file annual reports on time.
As president of Brunswick Forest and manager of Funston Land and Timber, Earp estimated in May Brunswick Forest has added nearly $1 billion to Leland’s tax base. With 3,361 current residential units to date, the master-planned community is about 26 percent built out.
Earp purchased the 287-acre parcel in 2017 from Mississippi-owned Seven States Timberlands LLC. Seven States Timberlands sold the parcel for $800,000, according to Brunswick County property record, at approximately $2,787 an acre.
The release of the Earp MOU makes sense of wastewater plans Leland initiated last summer.
In June 2018, Leland paid the engineering firm WithersRavenel $303,500 to design two lift stations and a sewer force main near Hazels Branch Road and Old Town Creek Road. Funds to pay WithersRavenel were pulled from the town’s Public Utility Enterprise Fund.
At the time, the town did not have sewer customers in this area (the Stoney Creek area is served by Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO). The originally stated intent of the project was to “provide access to sewer service for areas within the Town not currently served by sewer, and areas that may wish to be annexed into the Town limits in the future,” the June 2018 budget amendment states.
The first part of the town’s Highway 17 wastewater plans includes constructing a new lift station in Brunswick Forest and a new force main to extend toward and Highway 17.
The second part of Leland’s wastewater project (which the town is trading for the Earp tract’s annexation) including extending the force main from Bishops Ridge to Old Town Creek Road.
In total, the 3-mile line would cross under Highway 17 to reach Earp’s Old Town Creek Road property. Though it wasn’t explicit at the time, it now appears the town’s June 2018 plans — which drop off at the exact narrow tract’s connection to Old Town Creek Road — were designed to accommodate Earp’s future development plans for the property.
Along the way, the new wastewater line will also serve newly-annexed developments Bishops Ridge and Hawthorne Waterside. If annexed, the Earp tract would function as satellite town limits. The next-nearest municipal properties are located in Grayson Park or the Stoney Creek/Snee Farm subdivisions, each their own satellite districts.
Phase two of the sewer project will be financed by Leland, per the MOU. Phase one could be financed “by others,” according to WithersRavenel plans, but it is not clear exactly which entity will fund this project. Cost estimates for both phases are not available.
A town spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions related to this topic.
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