Four offers, no sale on surplus land in Elkhart County

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners opened bids Monday, Aug. 5, for four properties that were originally purchased for right-of-way for bridge and road projects.

Posted on Aug. 5, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 5, 2013 at 1:39 p.m.

GOSHEN — Offers to buy land fell short of expectations when the Elkhart County commissioners put four properties up for sale that had been purchased for right-of-way for road and bridge projects.

The commissioners opened bids Monday, Aug. 5, for two properties northeast of Elkhart near the Six Span Bridge and another two pieces of land near C.R. 17 southwest of Goshen. The commissioners received offers on three of the properties, but none was immediately accepted.

“Either we were very hopeful or our numbers were too high,” said Gordon Lord, legal counsel for the county commissioners.

The commissioners had the option of selling the properties Monday to the highest bidders with offers that exceeded 90 percent of the land’s appraised value, but none of the bids was high enough.

The only property to receive a competing bid was 22043 C.R. 38 in Goshen, which was appraised for $65,000. John Nunemaker submitted an offer of $18,000 and Emojean Abbott, who owns a neighboring property, bid $45,500.

A couple that have been renting a house at 21833 S.R. 120 in Elkhart for two years offered to buy the property. In a letter to the commissioners, Ronald and Tina Drake said they have been renting the home for $800 monthly and offered to pay $800 per month over the next five years plus another $37,800 after the five-year period is up. The property has been appraised at $160,000.

County commissioner Frank Lucchese, who abstained from voting on the bids, offered to buy a property south of the St. Joseph River at 22053 Sunset Lane in Elkhart for $50,000. An independent appraiser valued the land at $150,000.

Land at 22127 S.R. 119 in Goshen that the county bought for the extension of C.R. 17 did not receive a bid. The property was appraised at $80,000.

The county commissioners asked Elkhart County Highway Department manager Jeff Taylor to review the bids. The county has the option of leaving the sale open for as many as 60 days, but the commissioners do not expect the review to take that long.

“It could be sooner than that, and it is our intention to move these,” county commissioners president Terry Rodino said about the four properties. “We don’t need a surplus, and we could use the money for road repair and some other things.”

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