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AVCSD to put parcel up for sale despite protests

Two property owners, adjacent landowners and others protested the American Valley Community Services District’s resolution to sell surplus property on Industrial Way.

The original resolution was passed at the August meeting, but Director Kathy Felker requested it be placed again on the Thursday, Sept. 12, regular agenda.

“I don’t remember deciding for sure to sell the property,” Felker said about 4.2 acres of property owned by AVCSD, which neighbors Sierra Park.

Felker said that she did miss a meeting in April and maybe the decision was made then.

“The reason I voted no (was) I thought we needed to have a little more discussion on it,” Felker said about her previous vote on the resolution to sell the property.

Felker said at the August meeting that she was concerned about the people living in the Sierra Park subdivision. She is still concerned about them and thought they needed to be included in the discussion.

Felker reasoned that there is no need for the district to sell the land. She outlined one reason explaining that the property was originally purchased for $18,000 in 2002. Since then she said it has been rented to High Sierra Music Festival for motorhome space. Originally the rent was $2,500 for approximately a week. This year the rent increased to $6,000 for the time.

Since the property was purchased, Felker figured the district had made roughly $42,500 for land that doesn’t cost AVCSD any money to own.

As AVCSD gears up to offer the Industrial Way parcel for sale, regulations stipulate that it must be offered to governmental agencies first. According to AVCSD attorney Josh Nelson, the option is open for 60 days. If no one comes forward with an offer during that time, then the board can offer it for sale to the highest bidder.

“I’m very troubled over the road department,” Felker said in part. Plumas County’s Public Works Department is seeking land to relocate what is known as the sandhouse. This is land between the existing Plumas County Sheriff’s Correctional Center, Mill Creek and the Public Works yard.

Public Works has to vacate that land to make way for the new jail. And the department has been seeking a suitable location.

“I’m not sure what it entails,”  Felker said about the new sandhouse location. She knows what it looks like along Highway 70 as she drives by.

Besides a total change of scenery for Sierra Park residents, those residents would be subjected to the sound of trucks coming and going as well as the beeping as they back up, especially during the winter, Felker described.

Felker went on to say she’s seen the board act to satisfy neighbor issues when problems have occurred with HSMF renters.

Now she thinks the board needs to continue to address those needs and concerns if they sell the land.

Adjoining property owner Judy Lambert said that her husband researched the property deed. On the original deed there was an easement for the development of a community well and underground utilities.

Local rancher Phil Bresciani could also use the property for grazing his cattle, Lambert said.

Lambert added that at some point AVCSD (then probably under East Quincy Services District) declared these easements null and void.

At the August meeting there was some discussion about easements on the property, which include one for AVCSD. It was also believed the property is zoned light industrial.

Lambert said that she went to the planning department and the land is zoned agriculture with a scenic preserve. It is also part of the American Valley’s floodplain and is to provide habitat for Canada geese.

Although no one is certain that Public Works would make an offer on the AVCSD property, Director Kim Kraul pointed out there are other properties zoned light industrial for sale in the area.

Kraul also questioned Lambert’s findings in the planning department. Lambert said that Assistant Planner Tim Evans assisted her in looking up the parcel. He even wrote down the parcel number, zoning and signed it, she said.

Kraul then asked how the new information affected the Industrial Way property.

Nelson said it didn’t affect the property or what the board does with it. No discussions have occurred with the county or anyone else at this time and if an offer is made once the property is made available, the offer comes back to AVCSD’s board of directors for discussion and approval or rejection.

Director John Kolb said that it is really up to any buyer to do the research on the property. And any buyer could go for a zoning change. That process would take a special use permit from planning, he explained.

“We can’t turn it down based on what we think they’re going to put on it,” said Director Mike Beatty about potential offers.

Nelson said that the board does have some flexibility, but it’s the district’s responsibility to get maximum money from the sale of the land.

Kolb said he’s tired of dealing with the property. Director Bill Martin said that it is surplus property and the land isn’t doing anything for the district. He added that they also have an obligation to ratepayers.

President of the board Denny Church pointed out that AVCSD is looking at building a state required $40 million treatment plant, and the possible purchase of land on Radio Hill for a water tank to increase fire protection. He said they needed to look at the greater good for the community and ratepayers.

Lisa Peard, also an adjacent landowner, said that the sale of the property wouldn’t hurt her business (Peard Trucking) that backs up to it. Her mother however lives in the Sierra Park development and it would impact her view.

Peard questioned how and where new property owners would access the parcel.

She added that she didn’t like it when it was rented to HSMF. She said they’ve found crack pipes, drugs, garbage and other things left behind from the week’s users.

What Peard would like to see is that the land be opened up for horses.

With that Lambert said there are currently three people who would like to buy the property and they would keep it as it is.

At this point Director Darrel Brown asked if people were saying that they didn’t want anyone else to change anything?

“Our business was already there,” Peard responded. Housing would be just fine, she added about a possibly acceptable use.

“I don’t know that,” Brown said. The property can’t be sold based upon what someone might or might not do, he added.

Nelson suggested an option to the board. Although they are required by law to offer it to public agencies first, what they might consider is asking private parties what they would be willing to pay for the parcel. This would help establish fair market value. If a public entity couldn’t afford that, then the board could move on to offering it for sale to others.

Martin asked if anyone knew how many public agencies might be interested. Business Manager Katie Nunn said there are 10 possibilities, but no one knew how many might want property.

Kraul suggested that those from Sierra Park or that have land nearby the parcel could organize.

Sierra Park property owner Jeff Soucek said he, like others in the development, bought their lot because they were promised the view. He was also concerned that property values in Sierra Park could drop depending on the nature of the parcel use.

The Rev. Matt Warren said he is a Sierra Park homeowner and was at the meeting representing five other homeowners. He said he understands the board’s responsibility to ratepayers and that every little bit helps, but the sale of this parcel isn’t the “lynch pin” to make funding possible for the new treatment plant.

Churchill said that although he knows the district has to offer the parcel to public entities first, he personally didn’t want to see another parcel go to a non-tax paying entity. “Do we stand by the resolution we passed last month?” he asked, moving the discussion along to another vote.

“I don’t see the reason why it has to be sold,” Felker said again. The land might be needed in the future and she repeated that it doesn’t cost the district to keep it.

Martin said it was time to move forward with the prior resolution.

“I’ll die on the sword for this one,” Felker stated. “I feel that strongly about it.”

“We don’t know what will go in there,” Brown said. “It might be another development similar to Sierra Park.”

Martin said that he couldn’t justify the district holding “a dead asset” without revenue.

“I don’t consider it a dead asset,” Felker answered back. “In the future the district might find they wish they still had it.”

At this point Churchill explained that a yes vote on the motion would mean the director was in favor of keeping the land and against the existing resolution.

Felker’s was the only yes vote among the seven directors present.

Following the vote, Lambert asked directors if their easement to the site is recorded? She said that a man named Roy Carter actually owns the land the easement passes through. If directors don’t have a recorded easement they might be creating a landlocked parcel.

Brown said he wasn’t sure about an approved easement; that would have to be researched. If it wasn’t recorded the parcel might not be a viable property for anyone.

“Except me,” Lambert responded.

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