The Chesterton Parks and Recreation Department will not be selling a
lot in the Dunewood Estates subdivision after all, after the man who agreed
to buy it backed out of the deal.
Members voted 5-0 to release Adam Rick from the sale contract.
In a letter to the council—whose contents Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd,
summarized—Rick expressed his appreciation to officials for their “hard
work” but said that “he no longer desires to purchase that property and move
into the neighborhood.”
Rick’s move comes only days after a stormy meeting of the Park Board, when
residents of Dunewood Estates, led by Rick Foor, objected to the sale on
multiple grounds. Of particular moment, Foor argued that the $25,000 selling
price—the average of the two appraisals mandated by state law for the sale
of municipal property—was far below the price which current residents paid
for their lots. That differential, Foor said, would “undercut” the value of
his and his neighbors’ property.
Foor also argued that, because under former Town Code the developer was
required to donate either cash or a lot to the Park Department—with the idea
of that lot’s being made into a community park serving the subdivision—the
developer could only recoup the cost of that donation by increasing the
selling price of all the other lots. In effect, Foor said, the Dunewood
Estates residents were asked to subsidize the cost of a park which was never
built, on a lot which the Park Department subsequently decided to sell to a
private party, at a price which was far lower than the ones they had paid.
The Park Department members, for their part, told Foor that they had opted
to sell the lot because pipeline easements made the development of a park on
the property impractical. The proceeds of the sale, they said, would be put
toward the construction of a sidewalk along 1100N.
Foor, on Monday, told the council that it was “fantastic to hear” that the
deal is dead. But he wanted to know what can be done “to make sure something
like this doesn’t happen again.”
“Something like what?” Trout asked.
Like the Park Board “arbitrarily” selling this lot or any other, Foor
Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said in response that there “was nothing
remotely arbitrary” about the sale. The Park Board discussed the proposed
deal at two of its meetings. It then went before the Town Council, which
scheduled a public hearing on the matter at its next meeting, at which one
Dunewood Estates resident expressed her objection to the sale. And a final
vote was taken in favor of the sale at the next meeting after that.
Lukmann also said that, should the Dunewood Estates residents wish to, they
could form a property owners association and buy the lot themselves, in that
way guaranteeing that it would never be sold to anyone else.
Foor then asked the Park Board, should the matter ever arise again, to take
the time to notify residents, either by writing them or by placing a sign on
the lot indicating that it’s for sale. “Don’t just rely on a little article
in the newspaper.”
In other business, members signed the state-mandated annual “certification
of election official on compliance with municipal nepotism policy.”
That form certifies that members have not violated the state’s contracting
laws by illegally contracting with a relative. Relative is defined as
spouse, parent or step-parent, child or step-child, brother, sister,
step-brother, step-sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, daughter-in-law, or
son-in-law, including half-bloods and adopted children.
Meanwhile, Member Nick Walding, R-3rd, informed department heads that CEDIT
spending is about to be frozen to the end of the year, to ensure that there
is sufficient CEDIT moneys available to cover any last-minute shortfalls in
the 2012 budget.
Department heads must submit all outstanding CEDIT bills to the
Clerk-Treasurer by 12 p.m. Wednesday, Walding said.