The Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission has approved entering an option-to-purchase agreement with Whyte’s Foods for a property in Wallaceburg.
The new option to purchase will allow Whyte’s an exclusive right to buy the property until Aug. 14, 2032 – the date that an existing PUC lease with FLT Energy Inc. expires, a staff report stated.
If Whyte’s chooses to exercise the option before this date, the parties would enter into an agreement of purchase and sale on the same purchase price and terms the utility negotiated for a previous – but derailed – agreement.
The land in question – a 3.3-hectare (8.21 acres) plot at 6750 Base Line – was originally approved for sale by the PUC In late 2018 for $100,000 on an as-is, where-is basis.
Logistical challenges, though, made a sale impossible at the time, said David Taylor, the municipality’s manager of legal services, during Thursday’s virtual PUC meeting.
In the process of preparing to close the transaction in 2019, it was discovered that a term of the existing PUC lease with FLT would cause an issue.
That lease covers lands abutting those being sold to Whyte’s. The lease permitted FLT to install a solar power plant on the PUC’s land abutting the property.
The lease stated the PUC could not cause or permit any interference with the solar plant’s isolation and access to sunlight, which the report called a “normal term of a solar lease since access to sunlight is important for the viability of a solar farm.”
Upon the property being transferred to Whyte’s and its planned construction, the building would partially block the sun, so the PUC would be violating the terms of the lease.
Under the new option to purchase, however, FLT will continue to have the sunlight protection it needs, the report added, while Whyte’s will be able to make a decision regarding their building construction needs at a later date and can factor in any impacts of the solar lease at that time.
“I think it was a good result in the end,” Taylor told the commission, noting it keeps both companies relatively satisfied.