Council looks at changing requirement when buying property owned by city of Little Falls

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

When an individual or entity buys a piece of property in a residential area owned by the city of Little Falls, they have 18 months to complete building on it.

Spurred by a September 2012 discussion with Habitat for Humanity, the Council is looking at changing that requirement.

The Council has the option to continue the policy, amend it or rescind it.

Habitat for Humanity had approached the Council about buying Block 30 of Searles Addition, Blocks 1 – 8, on the west side, at a cost of $46,000. Eight homes could be built on the property. However, Habitat for Humanity would not build eight homes in 18 months.

The Council is currently in the process of identifying building lots it owns and will determine a fair market value on each piece of property. In addition, the intended use of each piece of property will be considered, so property that may be needed by the city in the future will not be sold.

Council members would like to see property not needed by the city returned to the tax rolls.

City Administrator Dan Vogt said that while the city has followed the policy to require those purchasing land to build on it in 18 months for years, he discovered it was an unwritten policy before 2002.

At its March 4 meeting, the Council will set a date for a closed session to discuss and/or set fair market value prices on city property, beginning with property owned on the west side. Most of these properties are in a residential setting.

City Administrator Dan Vogt said the city had Block 30 of Searles Addition appraised recently. That information will be used to establish fair market values for similar pieces of property, for the city and its taxpayers, he said.

“As it was said at the meeting, we’re not giving this property away,” he said.