Property Sale 2014.11.26

Morenci city council members voted 4-0 Monday to reject a bid for the sale of city-owned land on Union Street near the former Parker Chemical Company property.

Morenci mayor Bill Foster offered the city $15,999 to acquire the property for a parking lot that would be used in conjunction with his proposal to construct a motor sports park in the adjacent land to the west. 

Councilor Brenda Spiess, speaking on behalf of an ad hoc committee appointed to discuss the issue, invited Foster to make another offer if he were able to clear all zoning issues related to the proposal.

City administrator/clerk Michael Sessions said Foster would have to follow a long, circuitous route to make it work. The planning commission would have to create a new zoning classification that would allow the park, then he would have to change the zoning of his property. 

The process would result in three votes by city council and that didn't sound promising at the committee meeting. All three committee members—Spiess, Rebecca Berger and Sean Seger—said they heard considerable opposition to the proposal from citizens and they were convinced that a motor sports park didn't belong inside the city.

Council member Ron Agper, who has voiced support for the project, was absent from the meeting Monday. Pearl Phelps cast the other affirmative vote to reject Foster's offer and Foster abstained.

Jeff Bell also abstained from the vote because he recently offered to buy the property, also, although he offered to pay only a dollar.

Committee members said they heard opposition to Bell's offer for two reasons: the City would be left to pay a fee to the realtor and also people weren't pleased with the idea of the modular building that would house Bell's tax service.

Bell withdrew his offer, but told Sessions that if council wants to discuss it further in the future, he would be willing to consider the purchase again. Spiess said that Bell should consider covering all of the City's costs and look for a modular design that has a resemblance to a stick-built building.

She also suggested that only one of the five lots that make up the property could be sold to Bell and the City could retain the other four for a later sale to a developer.