City Council discuss property offer before taking a roll call vote.

The offer for the city owned property near Mosswood Golf Course has been nullified. An e-mail to the City was received by See Real Estate Broker, Debbie Kendrick on April 26, less than one week after an offer made on the property had been accepted by the Board of Alderman in a 4-2 vote.

The e-mail stated, “It is with a very saddened heart for our community that as of this morning Mr. and Mrs. Wear have decided that they are going to pull out of the offer for the property west of Mosswood.  As of receipt of this email, please consider the offer nullified. Their reasoning was prompted by many things, not the least being the time and manner the negotiation with the city was handled, and then the icing on the cake being the Facebook post April 23, 2021 8:02 p.m.  I have attached a copy of the post in case some of you didn’t see it, I can assure you the Wear’s saw it and were shocked and appalled by this post.” A copy of the post can be read in today’s edition on page 5 in the From the Desk of Mayor Potterfield. 

The Board of Aldermen met in regular session on April 22, holding two meetings, adjourning from the first meeting to swear-in new council members. After being sworn in, the board reconvened to continue their meeting.

As the meeting opened minutes were approved from April 8, bills payable and then the table was opened to discuss old business. Alderman Ralph Lemongelli expressed his thoughts on the proper way to sell city property concerning the land near Mosswood Golf Course, the Industrial Park and a residential lot. Lemongelli stated, “I believe we need to go out for auction on these properties, I have had several people who are now interested in purchasing the land after learning the City has it for sale.”

Alderman Connie Painter shared her thoughts, stating, “I am okay with auctioning off the property near Mosswood, but believe we would need a counter on the Industrial Park.” Alderman Jeff Botkins was in agreement, saying, “Definitely need a counter offer included, keeping two of the industrial lots for development. Land has increased by 80 percent in the last two years. Just because we take the properties to auction, does not mean we have to accept the offer. It will give us an idea of what we can get. The Industrial lots need to remain industrial.”

Mayor Jerry Potterfield explained, “The purchaser is restrained by the zoning with a long list of what they can do with the land. They have guidelines set in place that have to be followed.” Lemongelli stated, “I believe we can get a fair market value by putting the land up for auction.”

Painter stated, “The land has set there for years with no interest. I would have liked to have seen other individuals who were interested to come to the council meetings to discuss.” Lemongelli replied, “Maybe they haven’t come here because they don’t want their name out there. If we put it up for auction it can be bid on in fairness to all citizens interested.” Alderman Rusty Rothweiler added, “If we put it up for auction then we can entertain things.”

Next, Lemongelli made a motion on the floor to sell all city land located in Mosswood, Industrial and Residential zones at public auction with the right to refuse the bid, Rothweiler seconded. Roll call votes were taken with Painter, Marvin Viloria and Jason Osbourne voting nay and Botkins, Rothweiler and Lemongelli voting yay, giving the Mayor the deciding vote with a tie. Mayor Potterfield voted yay, to sell the surplus real estate at auction.

At this time, the meeting was adjourned to swear-in the new elected officials, with Lemongelli stepping down and Juben Moss taking his new seat on the council.

The second meeting was called to order, opening the floor to Open Forum. Real Estate Broker Debbie Kendrick addressed the council revoking both offers previously presented to the council after hearing their decision to take the land to auction.

Kendrick then presented a new offer to the council concerning the properties near Mosswood, offering $5,000 per acre for approximately 31 acres, which would include the cost of a surveyor and closing costs, under the agreement that the land could not be utilized until October.

Kendrick added, “This buyer has offered to meet with the council in open, closed and during economic development meetings. He is trying to be helpful to the City and do something for the City. I would only hope this council would be welcoming to these people who are trying to do something for this community.”

Mayor Potterfield replied, “The property has never been offered for sale. These people came to us. It is our responsibility in good faith to sell these properties with as much return as possible. The land needs to be offered in a fair and honest way to the public. The land should be sold through public auction. We have a due diligence to this community.”

Mike Wear, who had placed the previous offer in front of the council, asked those in attendance, “Would you like more housing opportunity in this community?” As the majority of the room shook their heads yes, Mayor Potterfield stated, “We don’t know how many people are interested in purchasing the land or how many may come forward if they know the land is for sale. An auction would show us that.”

Next, Osbourne made a motion to accept the offer and sell the land for $5,000 per acre and Viloria seconded. A roll call vote was taken with Painter asking for more time before placing her vote. Viloria, Osbourne and Moss voted yay, while Botkins and Rothweiler voted nay.

As the audience waited for Painter to answer, Kendrick stated, “This man is only trying to help develop our community. We have a housing shortage here.” Wear was then asked if he planned on building houses on the property, where he answered, “No,” explaining his plan was to develop the property into residential lots with all utilities. Painter then gave her yay vote. The motion passed 4-2 to sell the property at Mosswood for $5,000 per acre.