Supervisors consider sale of unused government property
By Sean Tubbs
Monday, October 11, 2010
Should Albemarle County sell unused government property in order to help pay for other capital improvement projects? The Board of Supervisors last week directed county staff to consider selling some parcels while retaining others for future use.
“To the extent we could sell properties that there’s no planned use for, we may obtain capital to perhaps put into projects that we need,” said Supervisor Dennis Rooker.
The county owns or partially owns about 140 properties assessed at $523 million, according to Bill Letteri, the county’s facilities development director. This does not include property owned by the school system, which is considered a separate owner.
Letteri said 91.7 acres of land valued around $9.76 million were purchased by the county or donated by developers for future public use. One of the biggest pieces of land is 27.48 acres off of Polo Grounds Road that was purchased for use as a future elementary school. It is currently assessed at $1.2 million.
“We felt that it would be prudent to acquire this site, at a good price at the time, and hold on to it,” said county attorney Larry Davis. The land was purchased at below market rate in exchange for a tax credit for the original owner.
County executive Robert Tucker said the land has also been considered as a potential alignment for an extension of the Meadowcreek Parkway that would have connected with Ashwood Boulevard. That idea was discarded after opposition from the Forest Lakes neighborhood.
Rooker questioned if the land could really be used as an elementary school site given the limitations of Polo Grounds Road.
“The railroad bridge and tunnel, which is very unsafe, would cost millions of dollars to widen,” Rooker said. He asked staff to find out from the school system if they had any use for it.
Supervisor Ann Mallek said if the Places29 master plan’s vision of a high density urban ring is realized, the county should hold the land.
“If we had a big population growth there in the next 50 years, this would be an ideal place to have a school,” Mallek said.
Supervisors also reached consensus to consider selling a 4.75 parcel at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Ashwood Boulevard that is worth $1.86 million and has been considered for either a new library or for a grade-separated interchange. One issue for staff to investigate is whether there would be legal complications with selling land been proffered for public use.
Supervisors also directed staff to investigate selling 7 acres on Route 20 near the site of what used to be the Keene landfill on Route 20, as well as a parcel of land adjacent to Agnor-Hurt Elementary School.
Another parcel of land that the county may put up for sale is an 8.56 acre parcel received in the early 1980’s as part of the creation of the Earlysville Forest neighborhood. Once recommended for use as a park, a committee recommended in 1993 that the project not go forward.
Davis said the county has the power to make it developable.
“The county has a lot control over zoning and other issues,” Davis said. “If you wanted to make it a developable parcel, the county may have the power to do that, but it may be an unpopular decision.”
Supervisors agreed to hold on to several dozen acres near Monticello High School and the Monticello Fire Station worth around $5 million. The land could be used in the future as a potential middle school, or for some other government complex. Supervisors dismissed the notion of converting the land to a temporary use, such as athletic fields.
Letteri will return to the board at a future meeting with a report further evaluating land sale opportunities.
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20101006-BOS-Property
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
• 01:00 - Presentation from Bill Letteri
• 05:00 - Discussion of "land-banked properties"
• 06:45 - Discussion of Earlysville Village land
• 13:00 - Discussion of land near Agnor-Hurt
• 13:45 - Discussion of land near Monticello High School
• 16:30 - Discussion moves back to Agnor-Hurt property
• 18:30 - Discussion of Polo Grounds Road property
• 25:30 - Discussion of land on U.S. 29 near Forest Lakes
• 31:00 - Further discussion of land near Monticello High School
• 36:00 - Discussion of Keene property
• 40:00 - Discussion of Old Jail property in Charlottesville
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