This is a bit of a rehash of my first post here.
It’s not political either, even though I’m not happy with the new property assessments in my town.
It’s in reply to a comment that appeared on Keith Wiggand’s post on the If Your From Delmar Face Book Page.
The comment: I was wondering if this idea is even possible. If a large landowner has to sell a parcel to offset taxes, and the neighbors don’t want their “viewscape” or green space to go to developers, could they pool their money and buy it from the landowner? Say the parcel would be purchased by a developer for $40,000. If 20 people chipped in $2,000 a piece, they’d each own 1/20th of the land. As owners of the property, they could decide if it would remain unused by people, or if they would allow each other to walk their dogs on it, and their kids to build forts on it. Then they’d have to decide if they’d allow other people to use it. If one owner moved away he could sell his share to one of the other property owners or to a new person.
In my opinion, yes they can, or rather, YES THEY SHOULD, AND they should do it as soon as they think about it, not wait until it’s about to be sold or developed.
Four years ago, there was a petition circulated attempting to block residential and commercial development on this corner. The reason, as I recall, was more or less to preserve it as agricultural land. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yep, grasp at anything when you don’t want to see land developed that you don’t own. Am I being sarcastic? How about this? The petition originated across the road from this parcel! That’s right. Across the road from a fairly new development that had been built……on a corn field!
Now let’s go back 35 years or so ago. Next to where I lived at the time, was 80+ acres of vacant land. 20 or 30 acres had been stopped being hayed, the year before we had moved into our home, in 1969.
Don’t get me wrong, here. I didn’t want to see it developed any more than my neighbors. Maybe, even less, because there was no barrier/buffer between the vacant land and our property. We had to pass through that land to get to our house. The vast majority, in fact none, of the neighbors who wanted to see it remain “green”, had to pass through it to access their homes.
Let me clarify something. By being developed, I mean in a use that was already legal and permitted by town code in effect at the time.
Anyway, I was approached by a couple of the people opposed to development, sporting a petition of around 60 reasons why it should not be developed. They got a little(a lot) agitated with me when I told them that I thought that there were only 2 or 3 legitimate reasons on the petition, and that I wouldn’t sign it.
I also suggested, as does the commenter mentioned above, that they should get together as a group and purchase the land. That way, they could basically do what they wanted(legally) to do with the land, and keep it green. Nope, that wasn’t an option.
What I haven’t mentioned, is that the land was still in the hands of a financial institution, that wanted to unload it for almost any reasonable offer.
What I didn’t tell anyone, was that I had tracked down the institution and visited them, and was told that if I made an offer of X dollars, I could own it. Even for the time, it was a quite reasonable price – substantially under appraised/assessed value! Doing a little more investigating, being direct, but vague, I was told that the town would maintain the assessed value(read – not lower) of a piece of land, even if it was purchased under market value. That was the breaking point of my continuing considering making the purchase.
The parcel sat vacant, going through several purchasers, going through applications for non-conforming zoning code uses, which were rejected. One or two or three more changes before it was finally begun to be developed for residential use, as permitted by the zoning code.
What I’m trying to say is, think BEFORE you try to tell a landowner that they can’t use their land for a legally allowed use, just because you and your neighbors don’t want to see it happen. Also, don’t move someplace and expect the landowner (business) to stop what they’ve been doing for years, because YOU don’t like it – aka, look before you leap.