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Kannapolis council OKs land sale to western Rowan investors

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó The Kannapolis City Council accepted a $2 million bid Monday for almost 600 acres of city-owned land in western Rowan County.
A partnership involving Tom Smith and Johnny Moore made the offer.
Mayor Robert Misenheimer and all five council members present voted to accept the bid. Councilman Kenneth Geathers was absent.
Smith Moore LLC submitted the only official bid during the process to find a buyer for the property after the recession prevented the LandTrust for Central North Carolina from raising the funds to exercise its option.
The LandTrust has bought other parcels of the rural Kannapolis land for preservation; the Smith Moore LLC partnership intends to do likewise, with minor caveats.
The partners intend to sell a portion of the land for farming purposes to a local farmer who already leases the land.
But City Manager Mike Legg said that, on the chance such a sale would fall through, the buyers wanted a fallback position: the ability to place six single-family homes on the land.
He said that such an option would be a last resort if land couldn’t be sold for farming.
“I think it’s highly unlikely there will ever be any homes built on this property,” Legg said.
The city will be paid in two installments: one at closing and one no later than the end of the current fiscal year, which would be June 30, 2010.
Legg said that although no other bids were received, an area resident who was identified only as “another farmer in Rowan County” asked him to present the council with another option.
Instead of accepting the $2 million bid, he offered a lower, but unspecified sum for sale of the land with no need for any potential housing.
The council heard, but did not seriously consider, that possibility as it would have meant abandoning the current bid process.
Councilman Gene McCombs asked if language in the final sale contract would prohibit subdivision of the land beyond a certain point.
“At some point, the new owners may want to sell off parcels. Now, how is that going to work?” he said. “Maybe they want to sell 50 acres? There’s nothing to stop them from doing that.”
Legg said those limitations would be in place. “We haven’t drafted the language yet,” he said.

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