Thursday, June 2, 2022

Sale of township owned property is again delayed

The long-discussed process of selling land owned by Sumpter Township was delayed by another two weeks during the regular meeting of the board of trustees April 25.

During the study session preceding the meeting, Supervisor Tim Bowman suggested the township move forward with sending the various properties to auction following a review of the various sites by Trustee Matt Oddy, Deputy Supervisor/Trustee Tim Rush and himself. The review was an effort, Rush said, to ensure that the properties being sold were as close to compliant with township building regulations as possible. To accomplish that, the legal descriptions of some properties were altered, and some properties conjoined to ensure building was possible at the site, he added.

Trustee Don LaPorte, however, questioned the decision to send the properties to auction rather than consult a Realtor. He asked what the reserve asking bid would be on the sites at the auction.

“Do we know what the properties are worth,” he asked. “We always do this dance, should we sell them are we going to sell them. I'm not an attorney or a developer, I don't know how to value the properties.”

Supervisor Tim Bowman explained that the township would place a minimum reserve bid on each of the properties to ensure the best price for the land. He said the value of the properties could be determined by looking up the value and assessments of “comps” or nearby properties in the area. 

Bowman said he wanted to get as much for the property as possible to put the funds back into the township and “rebuild the fairgrounds.”

LaPorte and Trustee Peggy Morgan each suggested that the township should have the property evaluated by a professional Realtor in the area. Morgan told the board members that a local Realtor had given her a tentative estimate on one of the sites that was much higher than the recent evaluation.

Bowman said he favored the auction as it would be more expedient in selling the properties and a more efficient manner of disposing of the various sites.  

LaPorte, however, suggested the board delay the issue for another two weeks until the actual contract with the auctioneer could be negotiated by township attorney Rob Young and the value of the properties investigated to determine the amount of the reserve bid.

During the public comment period of the regular meeting agenda, township resident Cory Blue, who owns property adjacent to one of the sites proposed for sale, adamantly opposed the actions of the board members. 

He dem-anded to know how the value of the properties was being set, “Are you just picking them out of a hat now?” he demanded. He and Bowman entered into a spirited and contentious exchange regarding the viability of one of the lots. Blue insisted the land next to his, which is zoned commercial, was in a residential area and was landlocked. Bowman disputed that contention and said there was an available easement to the site. Blue continued to claim the land was in a residential area and had no access other than through his property which, he said, he would never allow.

The two also argued about the location of a pipeline on the property with Blue claiming that would limit any construction at the site and Bowman insisting that construction on the property was possible. 

“Are you offering to sell the property to adjacent property owners?Where's the transparency? This is not the right thing to do,” Blue, who has appeared to criticize the proposed sale process and zoning of the property at previous meetings, said.   

As the exchange grew more heated, Bowman suggested that Blue be removed from the meeting, although that did not happen. Following Bowman's call for order ending the exchange, the meeting proceeded. 

The board members voted to delay sending the properties to the auctioneer for two weeks pending more information regarding the reserve bids.

The vote was unanimous with Trustee Matt Oddy excused from the meeting.