County looks to sell land to OUP

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Can Lawrence County officials sell land it obtained through a floodplain buyout several years ago, or must it lease the land if it wants to make any use of it?

That is the question the Lawrence County Commission will ask the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office regarding approximately six acres of land it owns adjacent to the Ohio University Proctorville Center.

OUS Director of Facilities Management Adam Riehl told the commission at its Tuesday work session that the university is discussing plans for a recreational facility on the lower 12 acres of its property near Proctorville.

The university, he said, is interested in leasing 18 one-third-acre parcels the county owns that is in the floodplain but could still be used for walking tracks, soccer fields and other outdoor activities.

“It would be advantageous,” Riehl said. “What do we have to do to include that six acres?”

The land that was once privately-owned was obtained by the county through an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 1997 flood.

The agreement carried the stipulation that the land not be sold to prevent it ever being used for a permanent structure that could be damaged by flooding in the future.

Commissioner Les Boggs wanted to know why the land could not be sold outright to the university since the university’s plans are for recreational facilities and not for, say, houses.

“I’d like to get an opinion on it,” Boggs said.

Commissioner Jason Stephens said the county leases land in Athalia under a similar situation to Hecla Water and the old locks at Rome Township to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 6878.

Stephens said there have been other inquiries about the land.

Since the county acquired the six acres near the Proctorville Center, officials have fielded inquiries from others wanting to use the property for garden space or to cut hay.

The commission Tuesday held off discussing budget issues because some other officeholders were unable to meet with them.

Last week the auditor’s office released the latest figures on the county’s budget woes.

More than a half a dozen salary line items are projected to run out of money before the end of the year.