City Council signs contract to buy land

— The Craig City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to enter into a contract with the Colorado State Land Board to purchase 5.27 acres of property near the Sandrocks north of Craig.

The property is valued at $2,898.50. The city will purchase a property with the same value to exchange for the Sandrocks site. The city has not purchased the property to be exchanged.

The city made a bid on the property to correct a previous land sale. Mary Morris bought approximately two city lots for $1,000 several years ago and it wasn't until the sale was complete that it was discovered the city did not own the property. The city had a perpetual right-of-way on the property that former city staff members mistook for ownership. It is near the site where water storage tanks sit.

The city tried to buy the property back from Morris, offering her purchase price of $1,000 plus interest. Morris asked the city to pay $15,000, what she believed was fair market value of the property plus compensation for improvements she had made. The city refused and threats of litigation were made until negotiations with the State Land Board began in February.

Once the contract is completed and signed by both the State Land Board and the City Council, city administrators will ask the Council to approve an ordinance transferring a portion of it to Morris to make good on the previous sale.

City Manager Jim Ferree said the property will be purchased with money from the city general fund. The city will divide the property and sell the portion with the water tanks to the water department which is a separate fund. Purchasing the property from the general fund as opposed to the water fund will eliminate any risk the city would face in terms of protocol for selling utility property.

The property is too small to be used for any utility purposes now or in the future, Ferree said.

"I'm not real sure this property will have long-term use for any water development," he said.

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