06/05/06 — Property owner gets land in city for just a dollar

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Property owner gets land in city for just a dollar

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on June 5, 2006 1:49 PM

Andre Best didn't have to haggle for a better price when the city of Goldsboro offered him a plot of land on Whitfield Drive for a dollar.

Best, of Raleigh, owns substandard property in town, which is adjacent to another substandard lot city officials considered to be surplus property.

Goldsboro City Council member Don Chatman said it used to be difficult to sell substandard lots, which are tracts of property that do not meet the requirements of the zone in which they are located. For example, property in some zones must have a certain amount of easement between houses. Substandard lots do not meet these requirements, which makes the land difficult to sell.

Developers do not want to buy the land because they can't build anything on the property. Local residents also did not want the land because they saw no purpose in building a house on substandard property.

So, the council lobbied state legislators to draft special legislation allowing the city of Goldsboro to sell the unwanted property to an adjacent owner who also owned substandard property.

According to state law, if the city has surplus substandard property, the planning department can find and contact any contiguous property owners.

If one adjacent owner is interested in buying the property, the city can hand over the property's title for a dollar. If there is more than one adjacent owner interested in the property, the land can be divided or given to the owner with a "greater degree of a substandard condition."

In Best's case, Goldsboro Finance Director Richard Durham said Best was the only landowner adjacent to the lot. Since Best's property is also substandard, he qualified to buy the land from the city.

The city is able to sell the land for such a low price because it would be difficult to find a buyer willing to pay the property's value -- $3,110.

So, for one dollar, Best owns twice as much land as he did before.

After the transaction, which was taken before City Council on May 15, Durham said the two substandard lots would become a standard lot, which gives Best more options with the land. For example, Best could submit a zoning change to build a store or a house on the property.

The biggest benefit of the special legislation, Durham said, is that the land once again becomes taxable property, which creates more revenue for the city.

Previously, the city would contact nearby landowners and ask if they were interested in buying the property. Any interested buyers would enter into a bid process, Durham said. Now, it takes less time to sell the land and the city receives taxes on the property within the next year.

And, the city still gets a dollar out of the deal, he added.