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Council to discuss land offer

By Staff | May 2, 2013

A waterfront restaurant’s interested in buying 5.3 acres of land from the city is expected to be discussed by staff and city council Monday.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail brought up the discussion item, saying he was a little displeased by the way the restaurant made its offer.

“We actually have a policy as to how the city sells land and that begins with the City Council declaring the land excess and putting it out to bid,” McGrail said. “Having Miceli’s put out the bid and do it on the 6 o’clock news is not the process.”

But with council saying the city is facing a budget shortfall and so is looking for new revenue, Miceli’s says it’s the best time to put an offer on the table.

“Basically, in a nut shell, we decided it was the best time to present an offer to the city,” manager Vincenzo Miceli Jr. said in a telephone interview. “There’s a shortfall of money and the new (public service) tax the city is looking at.

“What better way to show we’re part of the community than to make an offer now?” he asked, adding it might offset some of the need.

The business has enjoyed success since opening four years ago and wants to expand its parking, he said, adding that their offer of $1.5 million is a “legitimate, real offer” from an existing business, not an investor.

He also said they have been requesting the city consider declaring the property “excess” without success.

McGrail sent a memo to staff asking it to research LandQwest’s offer for the land owned by the city, which it bought as part of the 492-parcel, $13 million land purchase it made last year.

Council can consider the offer and direct the city manager to “follow the protocol regarding the sale of a property,” according to city spokesperson Connie Barron.

That would involve the real estate staff to get the appraisals and do the due diligence required before making any recommendation to council, Barron said.

Also on the agenda are the first quasi-judicial public hearings on nine ordinances to change the zoning of areas in the north part of town from residential to marketplace residential and commercial.

The properties had its land-use designation changes in 2010. The same areas now need the zoning changes to match up.

McGrail said the city was concerned about Amendment 4, a referendum on the 2010 ballot that would have required land-use changes to be brought up for referendum vote.

The city changed the land usage on numerous city properties in advance of the vote. Of the 26 the city made, 22 were in the north, much of it virtually uninhabited.

“It would have frozen us in time, and we didn’t have enough commercial property. We carved out areas in the north,” McGrail said. “They had the large, unencumbered parcels.”

McGrail said much of the area is still uninhabited, and he said it’s never too early to prepare.

“We tried to carve out those properties for future use for commercial enterprises that will be there 20 or 30 years in the future,” McGrail said. “Rather than let the neighborhood get established then put a gas station in, by reserving properties it allowed us to pre-plan for a change.”

Most of the properties will be rezoned marketplace residential and commercial activity center because all the lands require the (PDP) Planned Development Process, so surrounding neighborhoods will know what’s going in there before the council votes.

The final hearing on these ordinances will be May 20.