Sale of City-owned property debated

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

A current city council member and candidate for city council voiced their opposition to increasing property tax revenue within city limits during what turned into a controversial topic at the Sept. 3 Monticello City Council meeting. 

The city owns property adjacent to the Jaycee and Kleinow ball fields off Diamond Drive. About a month ago, the council sought bids for the sale of that property. The lot is roughly 213 feet wide by 80 feet deep. 

The council received two bids: A combined bid from neighboring property owners Brighton and Zumbach for $30,000. They intend to use the property to enlarge their lots. The second bid from Judy Tuetken for $21,300 to build a single-family home with a walkout basement. Tuetken would also have to pay the costs associated with water, sewer, electric, and gas. 

With these options in hand the council set a public hearing for Monday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. 

City Administrator Doug Herman said just because the council set a hearing doesn’t mean they have to accept any of the offers, or even move forward with selling the property. 

“After the hearing, depending on public input and additional information, you could decide not to sell it, sell to either of (the two bidders), or in theory sell it to someone else,” explained Herman. “The door is really open.” 

Council member Brenda Hanken asked whether this property was ever used for parking for ball games. 

Herman, who spoke with Parks and Rec employees Jacob Oswald and Shannon Poe said the lot was never used for parking. 

Herman did share that Bud Johnson inquired about the sale of the property, knowing how much has been invested in the ball diamond area. 

“His initial reaction was concern because we put a lot of money down there,” Herman said. “But then when I showed him where it was, he said that wouldn’t impact anything.” 

Steve Hanken, who has announced his candidacy for city council, said he looked over the property and feels it’s not suited for construction for a new home. 

“It’s on a hill. The street is pea gravel. If you build a house on there, you’re going to have a driveway that’s going to run all the water onto the gravel,” he said. “And the next thing, you’re going to have to pave the street.” 

Steve said the property owner would also have to deal with drainage problems from the adjacent properties. 

Council member Dave Goedken asked if those were valid reasons to refrain from ever building new homes in town. 

“Any time you build a house, you pour a driveway, you create a little bit of runoff,” Goedken said. “Should we not build houses in town because it’s going to create a water problem?” 

Steve said there were plenty other places in town for Tuetken to build her home. 

“I feel the same,” said Brenda. “Why create a problem that doesn’t have to be?” 

Steve said if they go with the adjacent property owners’ combined bid, the city gets more for the lot anyway. 

“You’ve got $30,000 sitting there. You won’t have to worry about it,” he said. “Otherwise you’ll end up with problems. Rather than create a problem for the city, it’d be easy to take the $30,000 and let it go.” 

Steve also pointed to the city’s sale of property on N. Chestnut Street to Norm Zimmerman, who promised to build a house. Steve said nothing has been done to-date. 

“I keep saying, are you guys developers or are you the city council?” inquired Steve. “Are you working for everybody, or are you just working to get more tax money to fiddle away? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.” 

Council member Tom Yeoman said generating property taxes benefits the city as a whole. 

“Property taxes are not the only thing that drives everything around here,” Steve fired back. 

Furthermore, he said Tuetken’s proposed house would obstruct the views of the adjacent property owners. “I don’t think I’d really care for that much if I were the other two property owners,” said Steve. 

“That’s part of city development,” said Goedken, who was growing frustrated. He said the council’s other option would be to leave the lot as is and pay to mow it all the time. 

“How many houses do we have in this town that ought to be burned down and rebuilt?” questioned Steve. “To build a brand new street (N. Sycamore) that has a lot of houses that ought to be burned down. I can’t imagine.” 

Council member Chris Lux took offense as a resident on N. Sycamore Street. 

Alice Brighton, an adjacent property owner to the lot in question, asked whether the council considered just not selling the property. 

“I questioned that,” admitted Lux. “I’ve gone down there and looked at it. I’m considering we shouldn’t sell it; just leave it as is.” 

“If it doesn’t get sold or put to some other use, it won’t add revenue to the tax rolls,” explained Herman. If you schedule a public hearing, the door is open for what you decide to do. Or if you think it’s too much of headache, you could put it to bed tonight and not do anything.” 

“I think, as a community, we want to build houses,” echoed Goedken. “We want places for people to live so we have people to fill jobs.” 


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