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Council mulls vacant lot sale procedure

by Tia Lyons | March 29, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.

The El Dorado City Council approved earlier this month a request to purchase three city-owned properties, several days after City Attorney Henry Kinslow drafted a policy by which such properties are sold.

On March 18, the council passed a resolution to sell three vacant lots to a local resident for $250 each.

Antonio Taylor has asked to purchase properties at 711 Louisiana, 721 School and 1309 E. Cook and had submitted a payment for the purchases, which required council approval.

City officials initially discussed the request on March 4 and a motion to table the matter was defeated following a debate about previous conversations to formalize the process by which city-owned lots are sold.

Council Member Dianne Hammond issued a reminder that during meetings in late 2020, the council agreed to advertise the properties to allow prospective buyers to bid on the lots and that council members would be presented with a list of available properties, including legal descriptions, for review when such requests are made.

Hammond then asked if the process had been followed with trio of lots that Taylor had been looking to purchase.

Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer said the council had engaged in extensive discussion about the matter and questioned the benefits of advertising the properties.

Smith-Creer noted that council members said they wanted to extend first dibs to local residents, particularly adjacent property owners, who are interested in buying the lots and are more likely to maintain the lots than an absentee owner.

She also said the council had considered incorporating a proposal that was previously submitted by Robert Edmonds, director of public works, into a draft resolution to formalize the sale process but that council members had not resolved the issue.

City officials subsequently agreed to move forward with the sale to Taylor and Council Member Vance Williamson asked that Kinslow draft a policy by which city-owned lots are sold.

Kinslow followed up days later with a proposed procedure that would require the city to:

• Place a “For Sale” sign on the lot, along with a phone number for a potential buyer to call and obtain additional information.

• Notify the public that the lot is for sale by placing an advertisement in the Public Notice section of the newspaper and provide the date for when bids will be opened. Bids should be placed with the Department of Public Works in City Hall.

The ad would also include the minimum bid and a notification that the city reserves the right to refuse any and all bids.

• Follow standard operations for the city’s bid-opening procedures.

Kinslow called for any changes or additions to the draft policy.

The council voted March 18 to sell the properties to Taylor by approving a resolution to that effect and authorizing a quitclaim deed. Council members did not take any formal action on the proposed policy that was submitted by Kinslow.

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