By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
The City of Davis filed a motion to condemn 12 lots and a private roadway in the Riverwalk housing development. As a result of the filing, the sale of the 12 lots has been put on hold due to titling issues associated with the filing by the City. One of the homeowners affected is 29 year old West Virginia native Colt Holbert.
According to Holbert, the Riverwalk property would be a house he could afford. “Believe it or not, this is affordable housing,” Holbert said. “Its a little tiny lot and I am going to build a house that I can actually afford.”
Holbert said affordable home ownership for someone his age is difficult and often expensive. “Its going to be super efficient and I am going to try to get my life started because for people my age, its really hard,” Holbert said. “We have a lot of road bumps and right out of college I couldn’t afford to just buy a house. The mortgage payment is going to be super reasonable. Most people would be able to afford the mortgage on it.”
The project was available to anyone interested, according to Holbert. “I was researching the median household income,” Holbert said. “Even at that, this was available for anybody who wanted. Like if the locals wanted to move in to here, it was available.”
Holbert said that he was attracted to the lot due to the fact that utilities were already on the site making it build ready. “What I like about it is all of the utilities are right there to develop a lot, to put septic, electric, all that, you can have 50 grand in just doing that,” Holbert said. “And that’s all I’m paying for the lot.”
According to Holbert, he purchased the lot for less than what his appraisal of the site was. “When the appraisal came back, the appraisal was higher than what Pete’s charging me,” Holbert said.
Holbert said he is looking forward to small town life in Davis and the convenience the location has to the town’s amenities and shops. Holbert currently lives in Parkersburg and said he expends a lot of gas just running errands. “I’m really looking forward to small town living where I can walk and go get a pizza, go further down and go to the grocery store,” Holbert said. “You burn a lot of gas just cruising around town trying to get groceries and run errands.”
Holbert currently lives with his father. Holbert said the Davis property was his chance to start his own life. “It just never feels like I’m at home,” Holbert said. “It feels like I live out of suitcase. This is going to be my place where I can – my stuff’s been in storage since college. This is my opportunity to get my things out of storage and start my life.”
Holbert’s grandfather was from the Davis area, according to Holbert, and often spoke fondly of his life in the area. “My grandfather is from this area,” Holbert said. “And my great-grandfather immigrated from Poland to work the coal mines. After the industry burned out, my grandpa joined the Navy and just never made it back and he always talked about how much he loved the area and how he loved to live here, but finances were tight and they just never made it back here.”
Holbert said his family brought his grandfather and great-uncles ashes to the Camp 70 area to spread at his grandfather’s favorite fishing spot. “About 10 years ago, his favorite fishing spot is just right up here, we dumped his ashes out right there,” Holbert said. “His brother died around the same time, so we mixed their ashes together and spread them out down the Camp road there. He had a little spot that he liked and that is where he is now.”
Holbert said he looks forward to being just up the road from the site. “It is going to be awesome that I can walk down there or ride my bike down there,” Holbert said. “Its a great fishing spot and every time I’m there I see fish jumping up out of the water and its just really majestic.”
Holbert said with so much state and federal park land nearby, he feels like his little lot is part of something much larger. “It feels like I am going to own 10,000 acres and I’m not going to have to pay taxes on it,” Holbert said.
Land Developer Pete Johnson and his attorney have filed a motion to dismiss the City of Davis’ filing to condemn 12 lots, including Holbert’s, in the Riverwalk project. A court date on the motion has been scheduled for January. For more information on the controversy, please read the companion articles featuring Johnson’s allegations and Davis Mayor Al Tomson’s response. The Parsons Advocate will provide updates on the story as it develops.