Krista Corner Havre Daily News email@example.com
And the verdict is no sale. The Havre City Council voted Monday to decline developer Joel Hewson’s offer to purchase 30 acres of land adjacent to the current U.S. Border Patrol station and south and east of the Havre Ice Dome. Hewson wanted the land in his bid to build a new Border Patrol facility. He originally made a $300,000 offer back in April allowing for $240,000 in cash payments or in-kind services for improvements to the softball fields south of town, but withdrew the offer after Council members expressed their wish to have the authority to decide what to do with the $300,000. Hewson revised the offer and resubmitted it, offering the city a straight $300,000. Council member Terry Schend made a motion to “proceed with the sale of land in the best interest of the city.” Council member Pam Hillery seconded the motion, “for discussion purposes,” she said. Council member Jack Brandon asked public works director Dave Peterson if the property could potentially be used for anything else. “Any property the city has you could use ” Peterson said. “At one time the property was considered for a golf course. Right now I can’t think of a reason we would use that property, but things always come up.” Council member Emily Mayer Lossing said she would be concerned about the citizens living within range of the proposed Border Patrol station. “My number one concern is that the people living in the area have not been given a chance to come before this governing body,” she said. Mayor Bob Rice disagreed with her by saying the people in the community affected by the sale have given him numerous calls, and any time the proposal was on the agenda, the residents could have attended a meeting and given their reasons for concern. At least one resident was present at last night’s meeting, he pointed out.
Mayer Lossing then said she was concerned the council was considering the sale without holding a public hearing first. Mayer Lossing also cited concern for a potential loss in property taxes and the fact there are other pieces of property being considered. Hillery questioned whether or not there had ever been an appraisal on any property similar in size. “Is this a good offer?” Hillery asked. “I have no idea what property is worth.” “We have no idea what the property is worth,” Rice told Hillery. Schend said the offer wasn’t substantial enough when weighing in the costs attached the sale of the property. “Looking at the value of the property relocating the flying club and the softball field it could easily cost that much do relocate them and not retain any value,” he told the council. “ProfitIs a nasty word, but it needs to be looked at.” Council member Allen “Woody” Woodwick agreed with Schend on the costs of relocation of the two clubs the proposal would affect. “I think it’s a great idea to have the Homeland Security base here, but not at that location,” Woodwick said. “We should have an appraisal and look at what it would take to relocate the softball fields and the flying club.” Hillery thought the appraisal of the land would probably be contingent upon what the property would be used for. “This is an odd thing to appraise,” she said. Rice suggested the Council needed to put the land up for bids if anyone is going to offer a proposal. Schend withdrew his motion citing a few concerns. He thought that if a parcel of city land were to be put up for sale, the bidding process must be drafted and drawn up by the city attorney. He also said the council had a duty to protect the citizens it represented and the council needed to have input from people affected by the proposed sale. Hillery thought the council should decline Hewson’s offer and made the motion to do so. The measure passed unanimously.