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Letter to the editor
Dont rush to buy overpriced land
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County voters passed a $100,000,000 park, rec and green space bond referendum a short while ago. The BOC has committed about $64,000,000 leaving $36,000,000 to be allocated.

The BOC is considering a number of potential purchases. Rumor has it they are considering paying as much as $160,000 per acre. That’s commercial pricing. Does the county need to pay that amount per acre in today’s depression state real estate market? There are a lot of banks and hurting landowners that might be real happy to dispose of their land at much less per acre.

There are lots of opportunities in today’s market that should be investigated by the BOC. What’s the rush? There are not many competing buyers out there, especially cash buyers like the county looking for lands that are less than desirable for development.

The BOC usually negotiates land purchases without public input. They believe that is best to negotiate in private. That may be the case, but what safeguards are in place to prevent political misconduct. For one parcel (the jail site), we’ve seen the county pay more than double what it sold for the year before. That deal still stinks and what’s there to stop that kind of purchase again.

The BOC relies on appraisals to justify the price, but the appraisal profession is like most others. There are good appraisers and bad. Due to the significant amount of money involved here, appraisers from outside the county might be best. The potential purchase price should be consistent with the market value of the county assessor. Any seller or related entity should be required to disclose all political contributions as well as any past, present or contemplated business relationships with potential appraisers, county employees or elected officials.

While the sunshine laws allow property purchase negotiation behind closed doors, the law does not prohibit public input. In order to promote public involvement, which should be encouraged, potential purchases should  be identified to the public and at least the asking price should be made available for discussion.

All negotiations should be postponed until after the new year. A rejected and vindictive lame duck commissioner may not have the best interest of the public at heart.

Gerry Sullivan