Increased buffer needed to comply with new state standards
Graham’s city council met in a special meeting Thursday morning in order to purchase property beside the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is located between East Gilbreath Street (near the Graham Memorial Park cemetery) and NC 54.
The triangle-shaped property is the back 1.7 acres of a 5.88-acre tract of land owned by Kenneth Howard Smith and wife Anita Allison Smith, whose home occupies the front portion of the property.
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During a brief, 5-minute meeting Thursday morning, it was explained that new upgrades and expansion at the plant require a larger buffer between the plant’s equipment and surrounding properties.
Interim city manager Aaron Holland explained that the city had approached the Smiths about purchasing the back portion of their property, a wooded area which adjoins the waste water treatment plant.
He explained that the city’s options, as presented to the Smiths, were “to work with them with a price or condemn” their property in order to obtain the portion that the city needed to comply with new state standards on the plant’s upgrades.
The city’s initial offer was $20,000, the Smiths came back with a higher number which was not specified, and the two parties ultimately agreed on a purchase price of $32,000.
Council member Jennifer Talley questioned whether the city had obtained an appraisal on the property, which Holland said it had not. He added, however, that he felt the price arrived at was “pretty good in today’s market.”
Talley, who had opposed a recent purchase of property for a new fire station agreed that at least the price was less than the city offered for the fire department parcel, which was about the same size or slightly smaller. The council voted 3-2 in May to buy that property, between Moore Street and Rogers Road, for $225,000.
Holland added that the Smith property does not include any road footage, unlike the fire department property, which faces two streets.
The council’s vote was 5-0 to authorize the purchase. The special meeting was designed to expedite closing on the property, Holland explained, with the hope that the city can complete the transaction by June 30 to be within the current fiscal year’s budget.
While there was no money in the budget explicitly for the land purchase, the city will be able to use funds already designated for equipment at the waste water treatment plant, but which was back-ordered, Holland explained.