On December 4th 2018, the city council voted 3 to 2 to deny a petition to purchase trails and land from the city in the Wimbleton subdivision. Since I cast the tie breaking vote I would like to summarize the reasons for my no vote
The meeting also included an action item covering establishing the fair market value of orphan parcels of land the city owns. Councilman Kurt Ostler has been doing research this year on the matter as he has not felt that the $1.40/sq.ft. established by the council in 2014 represents fair market value for orphan property. The city is obligated by state statute to obtain fair market value for any property it surpluses.
Kurt looked at 3 different methods for determining fair market value.
- Person to person sales of small parcels within Highland: 3 parcels priced at $1.85/sq.ft.(2004), $1.60/sq.ft.(2013), and $2.73/sq.ft. (2015)
- 2018 Utah County assessed value of several orphan parcels previously sold by Highland City to residents in Beacon Hills and Canterbury Circle: $2.76/sq. ft., $2.78/sq.ft., $2.76/sq. ft., $2.72/sq. ft.$2.78/sq. ft. and $2.75/sq. ft.
- An update to a 2014 appraisal by Denbow appraising for orphan parcels in Beacon Hills and Canterbury Circle. The 2014 appraisal was $1.00/sq. ft. The Dec 2018 appraisal was $3.00/sq. ft. Note, Denbow Appraising was the firm that the petitioners had intended to use to do the appraisal if an update was going to be required. According to Susan Denbow, the appraiser, orphan lots are currently valued at 25% to 30% of current lot values.
Councilman Ostler moved that the council approve a FMV (fair market value) for orphan parcel of 25% of the county appraised price of adjacent regular lots, to be adjusted November 1st of each year, with the caveat that if petitioners for the purchase of land believe extenuating circumstances exist they could provide documentation of such (including appraisal) to the council for its consideration.
The motion passed 4 to 1 after about 2 hours of discussion which included resident comments.
There were criticisms of the council for considering the prior to voting on the disposal of land in the Wimbleton subdivision and I can understand why those. However, given that a formal appraisal had been received and the council had prior access to the other information provided by Councilman Ostler that indicated the pricing under consideration was considerably undervalued in my view it would have been irresponsible not to discuss this prior to selling land.
Relative to disposing of Open Space land and trails here are the reasons for my no vote. They are not in any particular order of priority and any of them were serious enough to for me to consider a no vote:
- Price of the land was below fair market value based on county appraisal data and a certified appraiser.
- I have long opposed the city providing 0% interest loans to buyers of city property. In this case 2 to 4 year 0% interest loans were part of the motion being voted on.
- 100% of the proceeds from the sale being required to be used on Open Space improvements in Wimbleton rather than any Open Space park or trail.
- One parcel being sold had a sewer main running through it and provided access to 3 sewer manholes.
- Selling land surrounding 2 detention basins. The property owner could then fence the property surrounding the basins which could create long-term issues.
- One of the trails being disposed of appears to be well used and is used by students walking to and from Freedom Elementary School.