WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council and the Worthington Economic Development Authority — which comprise the same members — voted Monday following requests to allow the sale of two parcels of land to private entities.

Grace Community Church has requested to purchase a stretch of land to the northwest of the church property, centered between various residential and institutional property lines. The parcel has no street frontage, making it out of conformity with zoning requirements. City code and the city's property disposal policy allow any land that does not conform to zoning requirements to be sold to an abutting property owner without holding a public sale.

The approximate location of the land Grace Community Church requested to purchase is locked in the middle of residential properties.
The approximate location of the land Grace Community Church requested to purchase is locked in the middle of residential properties.

Council members agreed not to contact the other abutting property owners to establish their interest in the parcel, saying that if anyone else had wanted to buy the land, they would have inquired about it already. They voted to sell the land to Grace, pending price negotiations.

"How do you come up with a price on a piece of land like that?" wondered Mayor Mike Kuhle, as it was acknowledged that the parcel is oddly situated. City staff will work to establish a reasonable price to quote to the church.

Another private organization has inquired about a parcel located west of U.S. 59 and south of 27th Street, which is owned by the Economic Development Authority (EDAu). A portion of the property was sold last year to allow construction of a Frito-Lay warehouse.

The land in question is near the corner of 27th Street and North Humiston Avenue.
The land in question is near the corner of 27th Street and North Humiston Avenue.

An unnamed firm is interested in starting business in Worthington and has requested to purchase the 2.21-acre tract to build an agriculture-related retail establishment. They offered $100,000 for the property.

However, the city has invested $126,574.20 in the parcel, and council members did not want to lose taxpayer money. A 2013 appraisal valued the property at $155,953.51, a number the appraisal firm said in 2019 is unlikely to be different six years later.

EDAu members were unanimous that staff should counteroffer at $126,574.20, so the city is at least getting back what it has put into the land. The remaining $29,379.31 would be recouped by the developer's promise that the new business will create two new jobs that pay at least $15 per hour, in accordance with the city's municipal subsidy policy.

Also at city council Monday:

  • A third reading was passed on an ordinance to vacate part of an alley in the Clifton Addition.
  • A third reading was passed on an ordinance to change the zone of a parcel along North Rose Avenue from transitional zone to and general business zone to a one-family detached residential zone.
  • Mike Harmon was elected as the 2020 mayor pro tempore.
  • Council members approved nominating committee recommendations for committee appointments.
  • The Worthington Police Department accepted an additional $500 donation toward its annual Secret Santa program.
  • Council members directed staff to begin looking for a firm to help work on the comprehensive plan update.
  • A contract was awarded to Henning Construction on the 10th Avenue bridge replacement project.