EAST LANSING, Mich. — The City of East Lansing recently purchased 27 acres of vacant land off of West Road to protect a special assessment that is owed to the City. City officials plan to seek voter approval to sell the land for future redevelopment in the hopes to recover all costs.
The previous owner of the land was in tax foreclosure for several years due to unpaid property taxes, including up to $1,225,000 owed to the City for special assessments, property taxes and related interest. As is standard in these types of cases, Clinton County began making the annual payments that were owed to the City when each year’s property tax bill on this land went delinquent. Once the foreclosure was finalized, the County put the land up for sale. If the land were to have been sold to a third party for less than what the County had paid in special assessment costs and taxes to the City over the years, the City would have been required to pay the County back the difference. With that in mind, East Lansing City Council authorized City officials to bid on the property.
The City won the land auction and purchased the property in November 2018 for $444,777.98. The City is also expecting to be required to pay approximately $570,000 back to the County for outstanding taxes and special assessments, resulting in a total investment of approximately $1,015,000. If the City had not purchased the land, the County could have charged back up to $1,225,000, depending on the winning bid for the property, and the City would not have the property.
“By purchasing the property, we have the option of selling the land in the future with a vote of the people, which will allow us to recover the full amount, if not more, that we are owed,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. “If we did not step in and purchase the property, the special assessment that we are owed would need to be paid back to the County and there would be no future option for recouping our costs.”
City officials are expected to place a proposal on the November 5, 2019 General Election ballot seeking voter authorization of this land sale. The purchased land is bounded by Coleman Road to the north, West Road to the east, US Highway 127 to the west and the north perimeter of the Greenstone Farm Credit Services property to the south.