Local News

Rocky Mount Program Leases Land For $1 A Year

Posted August 9, 2001

— Property values keep going up as more people move to North Carolina, so you will not believe the cheap land some homeowners are getting in Rocky Mount: a year-long lease for just a dollar. The plan would keep hundreds of flooded lots clean, and save taxpayers thousands.

Ruby Phillips is thinking about leasing the lot next door to her house for some big-time reunions.

"If you want to have a family reunion, a lot of times you have to use your own space. With this deal, you get plenty of room, and you can invite as many people as you'd like," said Phillips.

The lot flooded during Hurricane Floyd, so the former owner moved out and sold it -- house and all -- to the government. The city will tear down the house.

The city will have to maintain the land, unless someone else agrees to do it, and that is where Phillips comes in. To exercise this deal, she has to keep the lot clean and mowed. The offer is primarily intended for people who live near these empty lots.

"If you get someone who lives across town, they don't necessarily have to see it, and we thought that the ones that have to get up every morning and see it would have more of an interest in making sure the yard is maintained," said Assistant City Manager Charles Penny.

And how about this for an incentive? Because the city maintains ownership of the land, the person leasing it does not even have to pay property taxes. One dollar a year, not a penny more, no matter how large the lot.

The same deal could apply to hundreds of flooded lots -- saving Rocky Mount taxpayers up to $200,000 a year in upkeep. Supporters say it is a sweet deal, no matter which side of the fence you are on.

In addition to keeping the land clean, the people who lease the flooded lots have to promise not to build on them. Nash County and Pitt County also have similar plans.

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