Mt Pleasant discusses taking back industrial park lots where buyers have failed to develop property
By Doug Lowe
MT. PLEASANT—The newly elected mayor, along with three council members, were sworn in and began their official functions as members of both the Mt. Pleasant City Council and Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA) last week.
First convening as the town’s CDRA at 6 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 14, the mayor and council members heard a report from Executive Director Monte Bona concerning progress on developing the former municipal airport acreage as an industrial park. After reporting that the city was almost out of land to sell, Bona went on to say, “I realize now, that we made a mistake.”
Bona then explained that he now realized it was a mistake to sell off the parcels they did at bargain prices to help the buyers more quickly develop their lots. Experience has taught Bona, and those on the CDRA’s advisory committee, that those lower prices actually hurt the ability of purchasers to obtain construction loans by lowering the going market value of property in the area.
What Bona proposed, pending approval by the directors, was a new two-step process: first, the CDRA would exercise its legal option to reclaim previously sold lots that have not been developed within the contractually-specified time limit; second, those properties would then be offered for sale again at considerably higher prices, with their sale contract providing for the return of a significant percentage of the purchase price to the buyer once development reached a certain stage.
The dual benefits of this new approach, according to Bona, would be increasing the market value of the lots—helping the new owners obtain better construction loan terms—while providing those owners with the “carrot” of some of their purchase price coming back to them in time to help with their loan payments.
The assembled directors were also informed by Bona that on Jan. 28 bids would be opened for work on the walking and biking trail that it is hoped will one day extend all the way from the park to Spring City.
Consideration of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) received by Mt. Pleasant for infrastructure improvement in the aging mobile home park included discussion of the need to possibly revise the city’s Pending Ordinance regulation to give the City Planning Commission even more time to delay approving or denying residential permit applications.
As currently written, that ordinance gives commission power to delay, for up to six months, residential permits if it appears likely that approval of the requested development might run counter to planned changes in the applicable ordinance.
After the CDRA meeting had ended, the City Council meeting began—with the highlight of the night’s business being the swearing in of the new mayor and three new councilmen by the Deputy City Recorder Marilu Zamudio.
With input from the city’s staff, the mayor and city councilmembers considered the need for an undated evaluation of the municipal electrical system in cooperation with UAMP. Last studied in 2009, the system’s renewed evaluation might identify capital improvement projects that could be added to the city’s “wish list.”