Couple blames town for hindering sale of property
Grand Lake, CO Colorado
GRAND LAKE – A retired couple who now lives in Kansas City has been unable to sell their lake-view property in Grand Lake for several years now, and they blame the town.
Because the town owns a small piece of their subdivided property, buyers have not wanted to commit to a sale for uncertainty about what the town plans to do with its piece, said their Real Estate Agebt Suzi Maki of Re/Max, Grand Lake.
In 2007, Glenn and Evelyn Coker equally divided their two acres overlooking Grand Lake’s north shore to finance their retirement.
For the privilege of doing this, the town board acquired a small piece of their property instead of accepting $28,000 of “cash in lieu of land” under the town’s land dedication provision. The 1979 law states that the town can decide whether it wants 7 percent of 5,000 square-feet or more of land from a proposed subdivision or take cash instead.
Since the time that law was implemented, the town has collected a sum of $231,000 cash in lieu and has acquired about13.4 total acres.
But out of all the developers that gave land for the privelage of developing, the Coker land dedication was the only one from a private individual, Maki argues.
The Cokers had preferred to pay cash at the time, but town board members voted to acquire .13 acres of land, thus dividing their two acres into three parcels.
The Cokers subsequently sold one of the parcels, but three years later, the now L-shaped lot containing a northeast chunk of town property is still on the market.
Meanwhile, a fine line between real-estate speculation and prudent management of taxpayer property has emerged at town hall.
For the mayor who owns a real-estate agency in town, keeping the chunk of property is a smart use of town assets.
But for a few board trustees, trading the property for a parcel next to the town road and bridge shops – an option Maki recently presented to the town – would be a more practical use of town-owned land.
“We’re not in the land speculation business,” Trustee Elmer Lanzi twice reminded Mayor Judy Burke at the July 27 town board meeting.
But town board members have struggled with knowing the true market value of each of the properties to make a sound decision, since few comparable sales have been recorded in town in recent years.
Based on a steep lot that sold on the south shore of Grand Lake last summer, one appraiser estimated the town’s .13 acre parcel on the north shore is valued at less than $60,000. Whether that value is equal to the lot next to the town shops is still unknown.
The lots neighboring town shops may have more town potential, according to Trustee BJ Johnson, perhaps for the town’s new Pay-As-You-Throw trash program. Therefore, he said, that land may hold more value for the town than the lake lot.
The town still has not defined what the small lot overlooking Grand Lake would be used for.
Maki informed trustees that the Cokers may be willing to offer the town $50,000 to buy the parcel back, an option town officials said would need to be vetted with the town attorney.
One trustee admitted the town’s 2007 decision to acquire the Coker parcel instead of accepting payment had been a mistake.
“It’s probably one of the worst votes I’ve ever had,” said Trustee Kathy Lewis, addressing the Cokers who sat in the meeting room. “I can’t take it back, but I apologize for it.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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