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Helper City Council agrees to land swap with town residents

By CLAUDETTE LANGLEY
Sun Advocate reporter


The Steele property in Helper.

After several trips in front of the Helper City Council to discuss a piece of property on 1st West Street, Ben and Melanie Steele finally left the chambers Thursday night reportedly satisfied with the outcome.

The couple were told that they would be able to perform a land swap and pay $1,200 to equalize the transaction and the slice of land would become theirs.

"We would like to do a straight up land swap," said Ben Steele. "But we are more than willing to pay fair market value if there are differences in value."

The Steele's began approaching the council with a proposal to buy a small wedge-shaped piece of land that borders their newly acquired property near the Price River.

At present a historical snowplow owned by the Western Mining and Railroad Museum occupies the area in question.

Planning on tearing down the two small houses on the property and building a new home, the couple needed the extra land to ensure adequate setback, Melanie Steele explained at the Dec. 6 Helper City Council meeting. At that meeting she was looking for some kind of indicator of whether the council would consider selling the piece of land to her family.

The atmosphere at that meeting did not seem overly promising, the council seemed to be on the fence as to whether it would even be feasible for the city to sell the property. The final decision on Dec. 6 was that the couple needed to have the land surveyed and then come back.

The Steele's seemed reticent to move ahead with the costly survey without some strong sense the property would actually be considered for sale by the city. In the end they left with the recommendation to just get the survey done.

Thursday night they appeared with official property lines determined and a much stronger bargaining chip. As it turned out both the city and Steele's own overlapping pieces of property on the parcel.

The revelation that each party had something the other wanted prompted a negotiation.

Councilmembers weren't sure what would be needed to move ahead.

"I think you should bring this back as written proposal," said Councilmember Chuck Buchanan.

The council also weighed getting their own survey done was necessary to be confident that they were making the right decision and having the properties appraised by the county assessor's office to be sure of the value.

Councilmember John Jones, however, was ready to get it done and let the Steele's move forward, he questioned adding any extra measures.

"Why are we backing up?" said Jones. "This is what we have, let's just accept their offer have, let's just accept their offer and move on."

Helper City Attorney Gene Strate told the council that it would be legally secure if the officials decided to move on the item at Thursday's public meeting.

"You can make a threshold decision on this because it is so unique," said Strate.

Mayor Mike Dalpiaz concluded that moving forward required two motions.

"First, we have to agree that property is of no other good purpose that for the museum's or the Steeles' use," pointed out Dalpiaz.

Following the mayor's comments, Johnson was ready to get on with it.

"I'll make that motion, " he said.

The second motion was to approve the land swap with the additional $1,200 payment from the Steeles, to cover the extra 1,825 square feet the couple would be acquiring in the deal as well as a legal description and the registered survey document.

Both motions passed unanimously and the couple exited the chambers.

Outside the meeting, the Steeles gave a brief description of the home they are planning on building on the spot.

"It will look like an older home like from 1910 or so," said Ben Steele. "And it will have rock, brick and wood so it blends in with Helper."






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