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January 5, 2014

City to take on unsold land from commissioners' sale

Study reveals contaminants at former Trelleborg site.

Logansport officials have worked out a deal with Cass County officials to acquire several properties if they’re not sold in the upcoming county commissioners sale Wednesday.

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin said there are 38 properties of the sale’s 122 the city would like to take on if they are not sold. He added the city will not bid on properties at the sale and that the county has agreed to allow the city to take them at no cost other than fees associated with required paperwork.

“Our job is to try to get [the properties] back on the tax rolls,” said Cass County Commissioner Jim Sailors. If the city thinks it can do that, then it should be given the chance, he added.

Franklin said he hopes the city can make the properties it takes on more marketable. Because of the neglectful absentee owners, he said the city is essentially responsible for the properties already through tasks like mowing.

“We have nothing to lose,” Franklin said. “We’re maintaining them anyway.”

Franklin added that a title search on a property costs $95, which is less than it costs the city for one mowing on a neglected property.

But there are many things the city can’t do without owning the properties, Franklin continued — for instance, tearing down a dilapidated shed or clearing dead vegetation.

After acquiring ownership and improving the properties, Franklin said he hopes to promote private ownership through negotiations with future viable owners.

If it turns out the city can’t move a property or if improvements prove too costly, Franklin pointed to a 120-day window in which it can back out of acquiring ownership.

One of the properties on the city’s list is more than just run down and neglected by an absentee owner, however.

The 12-acre site at 1 General St. that Trelleborg formerly operated on and that has accommodated industrial activities for decades was cleared of all its structures and concrete slab in 2012.

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