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Rayonier says city agent deceived it about property’s use

Lewyn Boyette is the central figure in a legal battle pitting the City of Macclenny against corporate giant Rayonier over a land dispute. The Jacksonville-based conglomerate contends the Macclenny real estate agent fraudulently convinced it to sell him 114 acres that he secretly planned to sell to the city for a sewage sludge disposal site off Steel Bridge Road.

The outcome in the lawsuit, filed by the city against Rayonier on January 15 at the Baker County courthouse, could boil down to a case of “he said — she said.”

Rayonier officials accuse Mr. Boyette of lying last June to induce the company to sell him 114 acres of timberland that he immediately agreed to sell to the city, which needs a new site to get rid of up to 50,000 gallons a week of treated sewage sludge to meet new state disposal standards, for $479,000.

While he did not disclose his plan to turn around and sell the property to the city, Mr. Boyette said he never lied to any Rayonier representatives in his conversations leading up to the property transaction, which called for Mr. Boyette to pay $399,000 for the land.

“They never did go into detail about what I was going to use the property for,” Mr. Boyette said in an interview with The Baker County Press on February 1. “They just said they didn’t want it used for sand mining.”

That’s not how the initial conversation was remembered by Kathy Terwilliger, manager of Rayonier’s real estate subsidiary Terra Pointe Services, which handled the purchase and sale agreement with Mr. Boyette.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Boyette on July 9, 2012, and which has become part of the growing court file in the case, Ms. Terwilliger notified him of the company’s refusal to go through with the sale “because of certain misrepresentations you made to induce Rayonier to sell the property.”

“Specifically, you contacted me to express interest in the property, which was not for sale at the time, and stated that you desired to purchase the land for a homestead and recreational opportunities for your family,” Ms. Terwilliger said in the letter.

“I relayed your representations regarding the use to Rayonier when I presented your unsolicited offer to purchase the land for Rayonier’s consideration,” she further said.

“Subsequently, Rayonier and I learned that you intend to sell the property to the city of Macclenny as a waste water sludge disposal site. Had we known this, Rayonier would not have approved this sale nor would it have executed the Purchase and Sale Agreement for this tract.”

Mr. Boyette flatly denies the allegation.

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