doug_wilder.jpgFREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ A Fredericksburg judge on Monday delayed a hearing that could clear the way for the city to auction the National Slavery Museum property. The museum owes more than $300,000 in real estate taxes to the city.

Circuit Court Judge Gordon Willis was scheduled to hear a motion by attorneys for the city to appoint them as special commissioners for the sale of 38 acres gifted to the museum in 2002. Instead, he rescheduled the hearing for May 28, the Free Lance-Star ( reports.

The museum's attorney, Del. Joe Morrissey, requested the delay because he recently started representing the museum.

Founded by former Gov. Doug Wilder, the museum filed for bankruptcy last year to stop the city from selling the land. Wilder refused to comment to reporters on Monday, referring all questions to Morrissey.

Morrissey said attorneys are trying to resolve the matter. He said Wilder  "has taken the high road'' amid criticism over the project's many delays and unpaid taxes and said he won't be "kicked around'' anymore.

Morrissey said the city's attempts to sell the land are "unconscionable'' considering what he has called the "grossly inflated'' assessed value of the land.

The property was assessed at $7.63 million, but a recent appraisal undertaken by the city valued it at $1.72 million due in large part to a restriction that allows the land to be used only for an African-American heritage museum or some other charitable, educational or public purpose.

Jeff Scharf, an attorney for the city, said the museum is entitled to challenge the assessment, but he called it "another delaying tactic.''

*Pictured above is former Virginia governor Doug Wilder.