Purchase process

City of Negaunee sells land to Negaunee Cable Co.

This is the tract of property the Negaunee City Council voted unanimously to sell to the Negaunee Cable Co. for $6,000. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — The city of Negaunee has made progress toward the goal of selling several parcels of unused city land.

At a special meeting last Thursday, the Negaunee City Council voted unanimously to sell an 8,000-square-foot lot near the city’s water tower to Negaunee Cable Co. for $6,000.

The cable company, which is owned by Councilman Nick Visser, already owned the buildings and equipment on the property, but was leasing the land from the city.

Visser and Mayor Don Gladwell abstained from voting on the issue, citing conflict of interest.

The property value was assessed at $10,000 based on an appraisal completed in August.

Prior to voting on the sale, the council held a public hearing, then voted unanimously to declare the parcel as surplus. There were no residents present at the public hearing.

Council members said the appraisal came in too high because the property was unlikely to be developed in the future due to its location on a rock bluff just off of Pioneer Avenue.

Councilman Jim Kantola said as a real estate appraiser himself, he is familiar with many of the properties in Negaunee, including the parcel purchased by Negaunee Cable.

“I find, me personally, professionally — that land is not worth $10,000. It’s just not,” Kantola said. “(The appraiser) deems that, due to the topography, this would not be an easily developed lot. The only utility up there is electric; there is no gas, there is no sewer. You probably can’t get sewer. It’s probably truly unbuildable.”

Councilman Toby Smith agreed with Kantola.

“One, appraisal prices are a guess at best, and two, it is truly undevelopable,” Smith said. “Just because it is appraised for 10, that doesn’t mean we have to sell it for that.”

Negaunee’s planning commission, parks and recreation commission and city staff agreed that the land should be considered surplus.

According to an agenda supplement for the meeting last Thursday, the planning commission acknowledged the property as surplus “with the condition that it remain open to trail user groups and that if the use of development of the property changes access then the purchaser will work with the planning commission, city and user groups and written confirmation from city staff that the various departments have also signed off/concur with it as surplus.”

Visser purchased the Negaunee Cable Co. for $1,000 from the city in July 2014.

The price took into account nearly $31,000 in subsidies Negaunee Cable provided to the city and its residents in the first year, and an additional more than $35,000 the company will provide in services, fees and lease and rental income to the city in perpetuity, according to the agreement.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.