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County considers forfeited land plan

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By Chris Sardelli

County Council may soon decide what to do with several seemingly worthless pieces of land.

Three parcels of land on the northern end of Pardue Street and at the back road of the Pardue Apartments have sat unused for years. The land sits in a floodway. During heavy rains, the nearby creek floods the area, making it useless for prospective buyers.

The land has been under control of the Forfeited Land Commission for the last three years, as that organization has tried to sell the parcels. Instead the land has remained in their ownership and accrued $5,215 in taxes.

“The Forfeited Land Commission is supposed to find somebody that can pay the taxes, buy the land and use it,” said County Administrator Steve Willis. “But nobody ever bought it. The land between the road and creek is unbuildable land.”

Council discussed possible uses for the land, including the construction of a playground or park. But Willis ruled that out. He said those uses would only have been possible if the land were in a floodplain, which only suffers minor flooding during heavy rains.

But Willis has a plan to put the land to good use.

“Instead of letting it go through tax sale after tax sale, we can get it out,” Willis said. “If we don’t do anything, this land will sell every year at tax sale.”

Willis recommended that the county buy the land and get it out of the Delinquent Tax Office.

Council could then transfer the land to the Katawba Valley Land Trust, which could preserve the green space along the waterways.

“It benefits the environment. Everyone wins all around,” Willis said.

Council will vote on the issue on Feb 2.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416