Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Town may seek private sector's help in selling unwanted land

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
October 17, 2006

VERNON - For several months, the town has worked to sell a piece of town-owned land on Range Hill Road.

But so far, the town has been unable to come up with any buyers. Now, town officials may call in professionals to help take the land off their hands.

The town has made two attempts to sell the 0.58-acre parcel at 25 Range Hill Road.

The most recent attempt came in June, when the Town Council authorized then-Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer to conduct an auction of the land, using a minimum bid of $68,000. That price was based on a March appraisal, which estimated the value of the land at about $66,000.

The additional $2,000 would have covered advertising expenses associated with the sale, Shaffer told the council at the time.

But that effort to unload the property failed to yield any bidders - and now town officials are left to figure out what to do with the land.

In a memo to Mayor Ellen L. Marmer and council members, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said he believes the town is at a crossroads with the property, and two options are at its disposal.

First, the town could unilaterally drop its asking price and try to attract bidders.

Second, the council could approve the property being marketed to real estate agents, who would in turn market the property potential bidders.

During tonight's council meeting, scheduled for 7:30 in the Senior Center on Park Place, Clark is expected to ask the council for permission to contact real estate agents.

Range Hill Road is a through street between Regan Road and Country Lane. The vacant parcel is in a residential zone.

The town has owned 25 Range Hill Road since December 1959, though it's unclear why the town was interested in acquiring the property at the time.

In his memo, Clark wrote that Town Assessor David Wheeler has told him the March appraisal reflected a fair value and that to sell the property for less would cost the town money it would otherwise be able to obtain.

If the council gives its approval, Clark said, he would use the phone book contact each real estate firm in Vernon. Each firm would be asked to return a market analysis as well as a presentation about its real estate expertise. Potential real estate agents also would be asked to submit their proposed commission.

"This approach has some real merit, in that the town would not incur additional costs for advertising," Clark wrote. "The realtor would, through their commission, incur the costs of advertising and marketing the property."

If this latest option doesn't work, Clark said, the town could employ the first option - dropping the minimum sale price.

©Journal Inquirer 2006