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Attorney General sues over controversial land deal

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The Delaware Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit to amend the length of an agreement for a liquor distributor who received a 66-year term for leasing valuable state-owned land in Milford.

The term of the 2006 lease with NKS Distributors and the Delaware Department of Transportation was to be five years, followed by two optional five-year extensions.

Attorney General Beau Biden, in a statement, said “no one should be able to benefit from a mistake at the expense of the citizens, especially in a public lease.”

NKS Distributors went to the state in 2004 to look for land for its new distribution warehouse.  DelDOT located a ten-acre parcel along Route One, with the intent of eventually resuming control over all or part of the property for a proposed highway interchange.  Written communications at the time indicate the lease would have an initial term of five years.  A 2006 appraisal conducted by DelDOT assumed a five-year lease, with the possibility of two extensions.

Christopher Tigani, a friend of former Governor Ruth Ann Minner, conducted the negotiations for NKS.  Critics described it as a “sweetheart deal.”

The Justice Department recently asked NKS to provide information which could explain the discrepancy between DelDOT’s expressed lease term intentions or support a claim to an initial 66-year term with unlimited potential five-year extensions.

NKS has not provided any such evidence, according to Biden’s office.

The suit to amend the terms of the lease was filed in the Court of Chancery.

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