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Web letter by Richard A. McGuire: Full telling of Huntertown land sale reveals some interesting facts

A commentary on the sale of the land on Johnson Road by the Huntertown Town Council (The week ahead, Nov. 5) included a veiled insinuation there was something sinister in the Salomon family’s “interestingly” being the prospective buyers of the land.

The Salomon family had owned and farmed this property for more than 30 years and had no intention to sell. Huntertown approached them with an offer to buy it for a future water treatment plant site. The sale was based on test wells being drilled and showing capabilities of producing an adequate supply of water for the intended purpose. This was accomplished, a price of $504,000 was agreed upon and the sale was finalized.

There was no appraisal.

Subsequently, Huntertown Town Council changed its plans and decided it also wanted a sewage treatment plant. The Johnson Road property no longer suited the town’s needs, and they decided to auction it off.

The land was then appraised at $296,000, which was established as the minimum selling price by State law. At auction Mr. Salomon was the high bidder at $225,000. The next-highest bid, which was a combination of bids for tracts 1 and 2, was $205,000. Although the auctioneer, Jerry Ehle, earnestly tried to get the bids raised, there were no takers. The auction was then closed.

Since you don’t raise your own bid at auction, Salomon was willing to let the events unfold and proceed from that point. At that time, Ehle approached Salomon and asked him whether he would consider buying the ground at the appraised price.

Salomon asked for a few minutes to discuss the issue with a family member present. After the consultation, Salomon told Ehle he would meet that price and the deal was completed.

Interestingly, if Salomon had wanted to, he could have just walked away and Huntertown still would own some land they could not use.

It is also interesting to note that the state requires an appraisal before a town or city can sell property but not before it buys property. But that is another chapter.