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Worthington considers buying land to expand residential neighborhood

WORTHINGTON — The city is exploring the possibility of buying more than 50 acres of land located directly to the west of Glenwood Heights and grooming it to create more than 100 lots for new homes.

The Worthington City Council on Monday approved a conditional purchase agreement for the lot at a total price of $815,145, which the council can either accept or reject on or before Dec. 31.

The land has long been considered an avenue for residential expansion, but has never been transformed into lots. The proposed project is part of a joint housing development program between the city and Worthington Public Utilities (WPU) in which both entities have invested $1.5 million. The aim of the program is to address the shortage of single-family lots.

In order to learn if the idea could work, the joint committee will pay between $30,000 and 40,000 for a professional feasibility study. Council members will vote on it at a later meeting once bids are solicited.

City Administrator Steve Robinson said the land would likely create a little over 100 lots at two lots per acre. The feasibility study will give more details and provide the city with various options.

“We could look at any number of options to get it as appealing as possible, but it still is staying within that market range,” Robinson said. “We’re hoping the lots don’t exceed $40,000 per lot, which would include land plus all of the infrastructure and assessments.”

The council will get input from experts on specifics such as the preferred lot size. Councilman Chad Cummings said the lots should be a decent size “so you don’t have to smell what’s for dinner in the neighbor’s house.”

Under this scenario, the city would own the lots and put them up for sale. Private builders would then purchase lots and build on them. More details will come once the study is completed.

Councilman Larry Janssen was the lone vote against the motion.