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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

City prepares to sell former DOT storage site

Monday, July 9, 2012

Several old storage buildings still stand on the former Iowa Department of Transportation site now owned by the city of Le Mars. The city is planning to sell the property in northern Le Mars in September, and bids must be in by Aug. 28.
There are interested buyers for land owned by the city of Le Mars along the northern end of Business Highway 75, but some details have to be finalized before it can be sold.

The property, formerly used as an Iowa Department of Transportation site, is about one-half block north of Sixth Street Northwest, bordered on the north by the recreation trail and on the west by Business Highway 75.

The city has used the buildings on the land for police and wastewater department storage and most recently public works department storage, according to city staff.

With a new public works building slated to be complete next year, city planners are seeking to sell the property.

Last week, the Le Mars City Council was given three offers for the property, but no decision will be made on a sale until at least this fall.

The council set a public hearing at noon on Sept. 4 to consider the offers to buy the land.

Offers must be submitted to the city by 1:30 p.m. Aug. 28 to be considered.

Lance Sitzmann, the realtor handling the offers on the property, said there had been quite a bit of interest on it already.

"All the buyers are going to use it mainly for farm storage or storage, and one would use it for his business," Sitzmann said. "They're kind of all equal there. It isn't like I have one of these coming in maybe with a business with 50 employees."

Some would like to use the property as a place for people to pay to store campers, he said.

Sitzmann said he told all the interested buyers that city planners want to ensure the property will look nice.

He also indicated most of the buyers were interested in putting up a fence around the property.

City Administrator Scott Langel said he believed the land was zoned B-2, in which outside storage is permitted.

B-2 zoning is for general business use.

Before the land is sold, city officials will have to decide several things, including whether to tear down some of the buildings on the property.

According to city maps, the two smaller buildings are built right above a sanitary sewer line, which is against city code because crews might need to dig down to the sewer line for repairs or replacement.

"It's in the five-year plan to remove and replace that line," Langel said.

The city council members also indicated last week that they wanted the city to keep ownership of about 30 feet between the recreation trail and the edge of the property sold.

That 30-foot strip would remain under city ownership so city workers could access the recreation trail to maintain it.

Some buyers had indicated interest in receiving a tax rebate on the property, but the council agreed that would not be part of the sale.

One question buyers had was whether the property could be split and part of it sold to another buyer.

Langel said it could not be split and sold in pieces because some pieces would not have access to a main road, which is against code.

Another factor to be determined is how much of the land is in the flood plain and how much is in the floodway, according to Langel.

No buildings can be constructed in a floodway, he explained.

These designations will be determined through a professional survey.

"As we receive information -- say the survey showing exactly where the flood plain is -- that will be passed on to Sitzmann so that it can be conveyed to all the potential buyers," Councilwoman Delana Ihrke said. "We aren't just going to sit on it for two months. We'll be active on getting some of these other things lined up."

Mayor Dick Kirchoff shared a similar view.

"We need to get our ducks in a row so we know what we're selling," he said.

Ihrke suggested that the three interested buyers so far can revise their offers as new information becomes available.

Final bids on the property are due by 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.

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