By Lonnie Huhman,
The Dexter Township Board recently looked at two foreclosed properties going up for tax sale next month.
One is vacant parcel at 9836 Betty Place, with a minimum bid of $5,953, and the other is a vacant parcel of 25 acres with a minimum bid $7,544. In a tax sale, the state of Michigan has first right of refusal, followed by Dexter Township.
Dexter Township Supervisor Harley Rider said the board approved at its June 18 meeting the purchase of the 25-acre parcel by a 4-1 vote with board trustee Jim Drolett opposing.
Trustees Mike Mesko and Bill Gajewski were not at the meeting.
Rider said the board, “felt that spending $7,544 to take 25 acres out of the possibility of future development was a good idea.”
The board did discuss some potential purchase conditions, including closing it off from the public and determining if it could set a deed on it to restrict future development, but these were both put to the side for future consideration once some research is done.
According to Rider, the 25 acres is land-locked and is bordered on the north by the ITC corridor, on the west by agricultural land, on the south by two properties on Margaret Etta (one vacant, one occupied), and on the east by two parcels on McGuinness (both occupied).
He said the 25 acres was originally part of the Hartman Estate, and then sold in 2005. In 2009, he said it went up for tax sale, was eventually purchased by China Social Innovation Foundation in 2013 for $13,000, but is again up for tax sale.
“Though it is land locked now (and is partially wetland), there is always the possibility that an adjacent land owner could purchase it and use it in the density calculations of a future development,” Rider said. “Ownership by the township takes that off the table. “
Drolett said he is opposed to using tax dollars on land that there is no plan for and his main concern with it is that it is landlocked. He said he thinks that makes any future use of it challenging and it may just become a liability for the township with people potentially using the public land for uses the township did not intend it for, such as hunting.
Trustee Mike Compton and clerk Deb Ceo both favored the purchase of the 25 acres because they said it allows the township to better determine the future use of a big tract of land in the township at a low purchase cost. Compton said buying it could also prevent any more foreclosures on it.
As an example of controlling its future use, Rider said the township could see if it could eventually sell it to a neighbor under a deed restriction that it never be developed.
The board’s meeting report said if Dexter Township wishes to purchase either or both properties, the price is the minimum bid. However, if the township purchases the properties, then later sells them, all “profits” are returned to the Washtenaw County Treasurer “to replenish the tax foreclosure fund.”
Rider said the board did not take the option on the Betty Place property, which is at the corner of Betty Place and Willis Drive. He said he doesn’t have any history of that property. Rider said he will be contacting property owners who are adjacent to that parcel to let them know of the auction date.