April 23, 2014

City weighs pros, cons of lake property sale

Corbin H. Crable
chcrable@gardnernews.com
The city of Gardner and Gardner Lake residents may soon reach a consensus on what to do with lake property.
Members of the Gardner Lake Committee, along with City Administrator Stewart Fairburn, updated the Gardner City Council on its talks at the governing body’s Aug. 9 work session. Fairburn presented the council with a handout detailing the progress of discussions among the committee members, made up of lake residents, city officials, a council member and County Commissioner Calvin Hayden, among others.
At issue is the legality of certain development on lake property, including installation of fences, decks, retaining walls, seawalls, gazebos and sheds. The city currently owns most of the lake property and has recommended leases for such structures while restricting further development; lake residents, at a meeting last month, asked to purchase the lake property on which their homes are located.
Meetings of the committee, Fairburn said, have produced three options the city may follow: it could sell the land for a nominal fee or on a per-square-foot value and residents could enact a pay plan with the city; it could lease the land to lake residents for a suggested period of 99 years; or it could leave the issue as is and simply ease restrictions on land development and the construction of certain structures by residents.
Fairburn said the ‘sell’ option is by far the most popular among the Gardner Lake Committee’s members and those residents surveyed, while the option to leave the land as it is has been supported by a small minority.
But there are plenty of questions that likely will be raised if the city decides to either sell or lease the land: What if a lot owner does not want to own his or her land? What will be done about the land that has a city-owned road between it and the water’s edge? What structures would be leasable? How would the land be assessed for taxing purposes?

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