Selling the lots

City looks to sell odd bits of land with little municipal use

BIG RAPIDS — The City of Big Rapids provides a lot of different services to residents. Sweep the streets, repair broken street lights, police the area – but managing real estate is not on the list.

Over the past few years, Big Rapids acquired a number of properties throughout town, such as  the Department of Natural Resources right-of-way parcels from the railroad that used to run though town or the former Hanchett Manufacturing site purchased by the city to be able to realign Baldwin Street.

Every parcel the city owns is one less piece of property on the tax rolls. for that reason, the city has developed a process to assess odd bits of land it owns and look for potential uses or buyers.

“Most of the parcels the city currently owns have been acquired from deals that go way back,” said Mark Sweppenheiser, Department of Neighborhood Services director.

During the April 20 Big Rapids City Commission meeting, the commissioners accepted the Big Rapids Planning Commission’s proposal to declare the city-owned property at 514 Bjornson St. as surplus. The .16 acre-parcel was given to the city by the DNR when the railroad was removed.

“The DNR property on Bjornson Street wasn’t being taxed or used for anything, so we looked at what we could do with the property,” Sweppenheiser said.

According to Sweppenheiser, the planning commission looks at potential uses for each piece of property before determining whether or not to mark it as surplus.

“The planning commission looks at the parcel and sees if there is an immediate or future use the city has for the parcel, be it for a park or for utilities,” Sweppenheiser said. “After the process is complete, the planning commission determines if the city has no use for the property. Then the planning commission recommends the property be declared surplus.”

Once the property has been classified as surplus, the city has the option to sell the land by accepting bids from the public.

“We are dealing with parcels the city doesn’t know what to do with,” Sweppenheiser said. “Some of the properties have easements for utilities, making them unbuildable, so what is the purpose for the city to have it?”

Sweppenheiser said it’s the city’s wish to sell pieces of property that have no municipal use.

“If these properties are purchased by an adjacent property owner who can make use of them, that’s for the best,” Sweppenheiser said. “It’s a cost saver for us, since we no longer have to maintain the property and the city can collect property tax revenues from the parcels when someone owns them.”

 

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