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By Amber Marra - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- The town will purchase 7 acres of land for $100,000 to connect two of its main subdivisions.
At a Town Council meeting Tuesday night, the panel voted 5-3 to go ahead with the purchase, with Councilmen Don Le Vine, Justin Ritenour and Richard Orndorff Jr. in opposition.
Before the vote occurred, there was some question as to whether a closed session should be held to discuss the specifics of the acquisition.
Councilman Bob Baker pointed out that because much of the negotiations regarding the contract were complete it would be a Freedom of Information Act violation to discuss buying the property further in closed session. After Town Attorney Jay Neal read the portion of the act pertaining to discussing the purchase of property twice, and Town Manager Judson Rex answered a few questions about what needed to be discussed within the closed session, the council as a whole voted to move on in public among curious murmurs from the audience.
The property in question is 7 acres between the Crystal Hill and Madison Heights subdivisions that never got the final approval to be constructed, most likely because of the negative turn in the economy, Rex said. The subdivision would have been planned around a road, but because it was never completed, the road was never built to connect the other two subdivisions.
Rex also pointed out that purchasing the land for $100,000 right now would most likely be significantly cheaper than waiting because another interested property owner could potentially buy it. That would prevent Strasburg from connecting its two main subdivisions, which would be "a very important connection for the town's community plan," Rex said. He also added that the original price was $139,000.
The final price still did not sit well with Le Vine.
"It will probably be available in the future, and $100,000 is a lot in this day and age when every dollar is precious and given what we are asking of our citizens in regard to fees and taxes," he said.
There was also concern among the council members in favor of buying the property that throwing away the option to buy it now would only harm the potential to connect Strasburg in the future.
"I don't know why you want to stab that in the heart," said Councilman Scott Terndrup. "This is an excellent opportunity for the town to move forward and I fully support it."
Aside from building a road to connect the two subdivisions, there is also the possibility of placing a park in that area or eventually a water storage tank. Though he voted in favor of purchasing the property, Baker felt that the funding to do so should come strictly from the town's general fund and should only come from the water fund if the water tank plan comes to fruition.
The contract to purchase the 7 acres should be closed by the end of the month, Rex said.