The McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen had its first chance to pull the Blue Building from a list of surplus properties and did not take that action.
An ordinance listing unwanted properties – including the Blue Building – was presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday night. The measure to declare those items as surplus was unanimously approved by Mayor Ryle Chastain, Vice Mayor Everett Brock and Aldermen Zach Sutton, Rachel Kirby, Steve Harvey, Stacey Harvey and Sally Brock.
The Blue Building was used by city government from the 1970s through November 2009. McMinnville Police Department was the last department to relocate. Since that time, the property has been vacant and numerous discussions have been held regarding its fate, which is still unknown.
Being deemed surplus means officials recognize the property is no longer needed for city government purposes. However, officials have yet to determine if the property should be retained, gifted to a nonprofit, or sold by a competitive bid process.
Joining the Blue Building on that list and in the unanimous vote are parcels located on Durham Street, Sunset Point Road, Towles Avenue, South Chancery Street, and four tracts on Bridge Street, as well as safe deposit boxes. Each item was previously deemed surplus by the city Building and Grounds Committee and sent for board consideration.
Board members did pull one piece of property on advice of legal counsel, that being a vacant lot on South Riverside Drive. It is located “straight across the river front Smooth Rapids,” as described by the city’s Public Works Department director Frank Southard. “It is a bluff.”
City attorney Tim Pirtle said he has yet to determine if there is an easement that allows access to the property, an issue also presented in committee. State law prohibits the sale of property that’s land locked and cannot be accessed by the new owner.
“This track, as we discussed in the last meeting, is land locked,” said Pirtle. “It does not have a connection to a public right-of-way, unless this leg, this parallel stem, that goes up to South River Drive, is identified in the legal description happens to be dedicated as an easement or as a part of the track which would bringing it to a public right-of-way. What I’m trying to tell you, in a roundabout way, is until we can trace this track’s origins and find a legal description for it, it is not a marketable track of property. The city cannot transfer it to a third party, because it is a land-locked parcel as far as we currently known.”
Sutton asked if the property could be gifted to an adjacent property owner. Pirtle affirmed that it could, if an easement does not exist.
Being an ordinance, a second pass before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is required. A special called meeting has been set for Aug. 3 at 12:30 p.m. for second and final read. Also on the agenda is to begin the process of transferring the Sunset Point Road property to HOME (Homeless of McMinnville Effort), a nonprofit organization.