State no longer pursuing $449K from Mooresville developer

State highway officials acknowledged this week that because no contract had ever been signed, they are no longer trying to collect $449,000 from the original developer of LangTree Lake Norman for road work performed at the $1 billion development.

As late as last year, a state highway engineer had sent letters to Mooresville developer Rick Howard demanding he pay the money for improvements the state made in 2011 to Langtree Road near the development, then known as Langtree at the Lake.

The improvements included a roundabout at Langtree and Alcove roads, at Interstate 77 Exit 31 in southern Iredell County. The interchange leads in one direction to LangTree Lake Norman and in the other direction to the Lowe’s international headquarters.

The road improvements were made before Howard’s development company sold the tract on which LangTree Lake Norman now stands to Ohio-based developer R.L. West.

Howard’s Alcove Langtree Properties LLC also is the developer of the planned Alcove Commons mixed-use community north of LangTree Lake Norman on Alcove Road at Foundation Court. The 25-acre project calls for a 108-room hotel, 61 townhouses, 58,519 square feet of commercial space and 33,788 square feet of office space.

A public hearing on his rezoning request is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at Mooresville Town Hall.

When an Observer reporter asked Howard during a break at the Jan. 5 Mooresville Board of Commissioners meeting whether he’d paid the money the state said he owed, Howard said he never agreed to pay anything for the road improvements.

“I never signed a contract,” Howard said. He referred further questions to the state Department of Transportation.

Bobby Lewis, DOT’s chief of staff, confirmed this week that no agreement had been executed between DOT and Howard, even though the state had sent him demands for payment.

Reuben Chandler, the DOT engineer over the highway division that includes Iredell County, wrote the letters to Howard, as first reported last year by the Mooresville Tribune.

Chandler referred questions last week to Lewis and DOT legal staff in Raleigh, saying they had been looking into the matter.

In an email reply to the Observer, Lewis said: “NCDOT does a lot of agreements with developers for transportation improvements. We require signed agreements to be in place prior to execution of design and construction activities.

“In this particular case, agreements had not been executed,” he said. “Therefore, the department will not actively seek reimbursement.”