Confusion over a disputed property in Le Center has finally come to an end after a local organization agreed to take over the lot from the city.
The Le Center City Council passed a resolution at its Oct. 12 meeting to pass ownership of a strip of city-owned land to the Alano Society of Le Sueur County.
Members of the society, a nonprofit organization that serves as an Alcoholics Anonymous for county residents, first brought up the disputed property issue last November, asking for a re-calculation of its 2006 street project assessment.
The society was assessed $3,408 for the north side of the property and $6,245 for the lot. According to Le Sueur County records, the society paid taxes in full, including the assessments on both lots, through 2015.
However, society members learned in January of 2015 that a portion of the corner lot, a .03 acre parcel located directly east of the Alano Society’s building along Ottawa Street, was actually owned by the city of Le Center.
Issues were traced back to the 1970s, when train tracks owned by the federal government were located in the area. It’s possible that when the tracks were removed, the federal government released the land to the wrong owner.
The city spent time last spring re-surveying the property to clear up any discrepancies while continuing to offer the Alano Society ownership of the lot.
The Alano Society Board decided Oct. 4 to take control of the property, provided there was no cost. The City Council agreed to the terms at its meeting. The society will continue to pay assessments on the lot.
The City Council followed the recommendation of Le Center’s Economic Development Authority by accepting a $20,000 offer from Miller Homes on the final city-owned lot in Le Center’s industrial park.
Miller Homes plans to use the lot, 1.53 acres in size, to build rentable mini-storage units. Peter Miller told the council the company would start out with 10 to 30 units, but could build more if there is a demand.
The estimated market value of the lot is $29,000, but during last week’s meeting with the EDA, Miller pointed out pointed out the last lot the city sold in the industrial park, to Maud Borup in June 2015, went for $14,000.
City Attorney Jason Moran pointed out that the sale benefits the city in a number of ways.
“This relieves us of any legal liability on the property, and I don’t have to mention that (the offer) is a decent price,” Moran said.
There was some confusion as to whether or not Miller Homes would have to blacktop the entire property or just up to the doors of the storage units. Miller plans to meet with Planning and Zoning to make sure there are no conflicting ordinances, and also to have the storage unit design approved.
Depending on the weather, Miller said construction on the storage units could start before the end of the year.