Friday, December 19, 2014

The troubled excess city property sales program in Astoria is seeing stiffening public opposition.  At last night's Astoria City Council meeting many of the seats in the audience were taken by those in opposition to the process. Resident Doris Quener told the council that her group is out gathering signatures in an effort to stop the sales.

During the public hearing regarding the sale of one of those properties in Alderbrook deemed excess by the council resident Shel Kantor asked several questions related to the process which prompted City Manager Paul Benoit to clarify several points including the actual number of properties that are under consideration for sale.

Benoit said the term "excess" may have been miss-used since only the council can deem city property as excess to the city's needs.  He said that the buildable lands inventory was used by staff to determine the total number of city owned parcels which was placed at 1300.  He said that at a previous meeting that number was probably confused with the actual number of properties city staff was recommending to the council for possible sale. That number was considerably lower placed at about 150.

Benoit said the current group of potential sale properties is actually 30 at this time.

Properties sold so far have gone to adjacent property owners who have been given first right of refusal to purchase those properties which in many cases are odd shapes and sizes with limitations on the actual buildable space.  Only about a half dozen sales have been approved so far and in several cases neighbors are working out agreements between them selves to buy the additional land between them.

Concern comes over some larger parcels. Kanter asked how many more homes might be built as a result of these sales and Mayor Van Dusen said he did not know.  Councilor Karen Mellin pointed out that the properties would be subject to the same permit requirements so "It wouldn't be like condos suddenly appearing".

The single piece of property under discussion in the public hearing Tuesday has a price of $14,000.  The offer was for $12,000.  The person making the offer did not appear last night.  The Mayor stated he would vote against the sale because no one testified in favor.

The sale was declined by the council on a split vote.

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