Plans to develop a 6.2-acre neighborhood park off LaVista Road are being delayed while county officials decide whether the $1.96 million price tag for the property is palatable.
The property, located at 2886 LaVista Road in unincorporated DeKalb County, is one of the few large, intact, undeveloped spaces in the area.
“There’s a great deal, I think, of support for this greenspace purchase and for other greenspace purchases in central DeKalb because it is the part of the county with the least greenspace per capita of every area of the county,” said county Commissioner Jeff Rader, in whose district the property lies.
But during a June 28 DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Stan Watson garnered enough support from the board to delay the purchase of the property so that the county could “make sure this is the very best price” for the land.
“That’s a lot of money,” said Watson, who agreed that greenspace is needed in Rader’s district.
The land, which is currently owned by developer Rich Porter, has a county tax assessment of $393,000, while independent property appraisals have come in at between $1.7 million and $2.3 million.
The proposed purchase price was negotiated entirely by county staff and is supported by two appraisals, Rader said. If approved, the purchase would be made with revenue from a 2006 parks bond.
“People are paying for this greenspace every year in their tax debt,” Rader said. “They’re paying for something they’re not yet receiving.”
Commissioner Kathie Gannon objected to delaying the land purchase, saying “The due diligence on this has been taking place for well over two years.`
“This is in an area that is paying bond money and has very little greenspace to show for it,” Gannon said. “The least amount of countywide money has been spent in this area.”
Zoned in 2006 for 33 townhomes, “the land was bought in 2008 before the economy tanked in the worst recession since the Great Depression,” said Don Broussard, a former planning commission member.
The purchase price at the time was $1.4 million.
“Who in this room seriously believes that this land is worth … more than a half million dollars more than it was in 2008?” Broussard asked during a June 28 county commission meeting.
“This land should be greenspace, but we need to pay the right amount for it,” Broussard said.
Because of the board’s vote to delay the property’s purchase for two weeks, the option to buy, which ended June 30, will have to be renegotiated, Rader said.