Property sales in East Carbon may take more time to complete in order to follow the book and sell the properties correctly.
The city council has been discussing the purchase of property in the city for the past few months. However, with questions from both the purchasers and the city council on how the entire process is supposed to be, purchasing property is still an ongoing topic of discussion.
Jeff and Ricki Palmer have been attending city council and planning and zoning meetings over the last few months in their quest to purchase property from the city. The Palmers have previously discussed putting storage units on the land they are looking to acquire.
However the city council said that the purchase of the land cannot move forward without a survey and appraisal of the property. One problem that the city is facing is that there is no one locally who will do an appraisal of the property. Liz Marquez, East Carbon city recorder, said that the city will need to have someone from up north come down and do an appraisal on the property. Mayor Orlando LaFontaine is working on having the property surveyed, Marquez said.
If the city cannot find an appraiser that will appraise the property, a statute allows for other professional publications and evaluation services, according to Jeremy Humes, East Carbon City attorney.
One of the questions posed by the Palmers was the appraisal of the property near the one they are looking to purchase. That property, owned by Chuck and Carolyn Abeyta, was appraised for $900 per acre. Councilman Andy Urbanik said that Vital Energy purchased the land, which includes the Abeyta's property within it, and the appraisal price was part of the purchasing agreement between them and the city of East Carbon. Currently Carbon County states that surplus land goes for $1,000 or less.
Urbanik said there are three ways the city could approach the sale of property: sell the property and ask for an appraisal, put the property up for public auction or put the property up for private bid. He also said that the city is interested in selling the property but is working on trying to find a fair and just price for the city.
"We have to know what we are dealing with in order to have it appraised and how to appraise them (properties), and we have no clue what we are dealing with," Urbanik said.
The process has not been without its problems. Councilman Darrell Valdez, serving as mayor pro-tem, said the city council has been not kept up to date on the sale of the property and is one of the reasons for the confusion. He and other council members visited the property, as was requested by the Palmers, to look at any issues regarding a possible road through the properties.
"We were left in the dark," Valdez said. "To tell you the truth we got thrown under the bus in the last few meetings. We are not being told as far as the city council, as to what is going on in the community. Everything seems to be hush, hush."
Mayor LaFontaine was out of town and was not present at the meeting.
Valdez said that he was under the impression that LaFontaine was taking care of the appraisal and the survey of the property. Urbanik said this has caused problems with communication between the city council and the mayor in knowing exactly what is going on with the sale of the property.
"We're not being communicated with from the mayor. So we're left in the dark and we're guessing at what is going on and we're going by rumors," Urbanik said.
While the process has taken longer to complete, Palmer said he was fine with the process but wanted to see some accomplishment on the sale. The Palmers have been looking into purchasing the property for over five years and became interested after seeing the price of the land.
"If you want to do it right, let's do it right. But let's do it," Palmer said noting he would like to see some accomplishment other than squabbling and indecision.
Councilman David Avery said he wasn't fond of the appraisal process. He said that the city may have set a precedence with the land that has been sold before and an appraiser may look at that when evaluating the property.
"I'm not sure what this (appraisal) is going to accomplish in the end except proving a fact," he said.
Avery also said he was concerned about what would happen after the property was purchased because of what Terry Young said at a previous council meeting about what he may do with property he is looking to purchase. Young said he would look into subdividing the property by possibly having a truck wash, car wash and a cemetery.
With the possibility of subdividing a property in that area, Avery said the road will become a big issue in the next few weeks. Palmer said that he is not looking into subdividing anything on the property he is looking to purchase. Despite what may be done with the properties, Urbanik said that everything being built on the properties would need to follow and be built according to city ordinances.
Following the book with the property sale is what Councilman James Wayman said he wants to see the city council follow.
"This is where we are all getting in trouble as a city council and the past city councils, is we haven't been going by the book all of the time. We're doing what we want and that's where we are getting into trouble," Wayman said. "It will take a little more time to get things done, but by going by the book it will work out better."
No date has been given on the survey and the appraisal. Valdez said he would look into getting a time frame for the appraisal on the property to get the process moving along.