By DAVID GREEN
Morenci city council members might have thought they were finished with the land sale to SBA Towers, but the issue returned to council Monday for what should be the final time.
“We were under the impression that everything was in order the last time we passed this,” explained Keith Pennington of council’s Legal and Finance committee.
On Jan. 13, councilors approved the sale of .24 acres of land in the city’s industrial park to SBA Towers for $69,000, minus credit for a lease payment. The property is enclosed by the fence surrounding the tower.
That pact was also approved by an official for SBA, Pennington said, but when the deal worked its way up higher through the company’s hierarchy, SBA wanted an extension of about 20 feet to the east, for a total of .31 acres.
This was requested in case the addition of antennae in the future required the construction of a structure on the ground to support an antenna’s function.
Pennington amended his previous motion to include the additional ground and noted the sale price was now at $65,775 due to the arrival of another lease payment. Councilors approved the motion unanimously.
An audience member asked why the price didn’t increase for more property. Pennington explained that the small parcel was not worth $65,000. The price should be considered buying out of the lease agreement rather than a property purchase.
Another audience member asked if it would be in the city’s best interest to remain tied in with lease payment.
Mayor Doug Erskin said the issue was thoroughly investigated last year, with spreadsheets created to compare the two options.
“With technology changing,” Erskin said, “we don’t know how long they’ll need cell towers.”
No one could answer a question about whether the property would revert to the city if abandoned, but city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said the SBA is required to remove the antenna if the company chose to abandon the property.
The road leading from Skyline Industrial Drive to the tower remains owned by the city, with SBA granted an easement to use the road.