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Wake School Board's Land Purchase Process Up for Debate

Posted July 17, 2007

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— The protocol for land purchases will be debated when the Wake County school board meets Tuesday.

A 32-acre spread in Apex recently caused a stir. The school board agreed to pay $8 million for the land but then backed out last month after it appraised for half that amount.

"(It) raises some questions in my mind, not because it's my dollars. Because it's the taxpayers' dollars," said school board member Ron Margiotta.

Now, the school board wants to buy 20 acres in Cary and 46 acres in Rolesville. However, those purchases are on hold for at least a month.

Before approving any more land sales, the Wake County Board of Commissioners is requiring a checklist that includes ownership history and appraisals.

"We've given the county commissioners all the information that they've asked for. I'm aware of no information that they've requested that they've not received."

Commission Chair Tony Gurley said he believes the county should take over responsibility for buying land and building schools.

"If we're accountable, we need to be in control, and that's not the situation right now," he said.

School officials said they are concerned, too, and want to evaluate their process. One area under consideration is the use of real estate firms to scout land.

"This is a good time to see if this is effective. We need to see if we're getting the most bang for our buck if you will," said assistant superintendent Don Haydon.

School board members are trying to finalize those land deals in Cary and Apex. The deadline to get those pieces of land at the current asking price is July 31.The board is talking with the sellers about extending that deadline.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the school system's Administration Building, located at 3600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.

30 Comments

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  • Joe Jul 17, 2007

    This might be a bit absurd to suggest but here goes.

    I think Walt Disney had many people buy parcels of land in the Orlando area during a five-year period in the 1960s. This helped Disney from paying an arm and a leg for the land as the buyers posed as individuals and none was the wiser they were working for Disney. Now, of course, Walt Disney World occupies that land.

    Could the school system do something similar, not list the land in question, and hire a firm to buy parcels at a time? That way, the land might not be jacked up in price as the owners wouldn't realize that the schools would be buying it. Just a thought.

  • tmedlin Jul 17, 2007

    there's land currently listed for 30K an acre in Apex. If the board was doing due diligence, then they would have someone scouting land, contacted landowners that may NOT have their land already listed, to see what kind of deals they could work out. that's alot ofleg work, but how I would expect my tax dollars to be used...

  • lolly Jul 17, 2007

    tmedlin - I have heard that the owner of Capstone Realty sits on the internal WCPSS committee that approves purchases. However, this is an UNCONFIRMED rumor.

  • tmedlin Jul 17, 2007

    you can go to Wake county website and look at the properties owns by the Wake county Board of Education, but all schools are not listed- none in Fuquay - will investigate further

  • tmedlin Jul 17, 2007

    all fees earned MUST be disclosed - I looked up some info, but it's going to take a little more digging - If someone can tell me the names of schools built in that area since 2005, it will be a little easier to come up with the info online. Sales prices before 2005 are not online, from the spot-checking I just did. There are a couple of new schools in Holly Springs, but those comps wouldn't be good for land in the Apex area...

  • RIP- Yogi Bear Jul 17, 2007

    I'd like to know what kickbacks folks got on this scam. Vacations in the Caribbean? This is totally unacceptable! I'm glad to see my tax $$$ going to someone that makes these excellent decisions.

  • Nobody but Carolina Jul 17, 2007

    Having read the N&O article linked, it makes me question Parker and her handling of this. One would think that she would use both what she uses as well as appraisals to get the best assessment of the value of the land that's being looked at for schools....any schools. I also wonder if she is paid a fee for closing on a sale as any "real estate agent" would be even though she is employed by the school system.

  • tmedlin Jul 17, 2007

    The DOT said the cost of the southern part of 540 has tripled because ofthe appriased values going up in Apex for land. Here's the deal, you don't pay the same amount per acre for a 50 acre tract, that you would pay for a lot to build a home on. you MUST compare apples to apples 50 acre tract - 50 acre tract (plus or minus a few acres is OK, you just make adjustments for size) 80K per acre may include the value of having water/sewer on-site - don't need that for a highway - somebody needs to check into that, while they are checking on the schools - which I will be doing in a few short minutes

  • tmedlin Jul 17, 2007

    80K an acre! If you are building a home in a million dollar home community 80K MIGHT be the price for an acre lot.Maybe they were thinking that the price for a small building lot being 20K for a quarter-acre...I'll bet there was an un-disclosed connection between the peron making the purchase and the seller... I would certainly investigate that.In standard rela estate contracts, you agree to a price, but have an appraisal contingency which is part of the financing contingency, and if there's no financing contingency, there's a place, already pre-printed on the standard forms, where you indicated that the offer is continggent of the appraised value being equal to or greater than the purchase price. Value also depends on current zoning of the parcel.Farmland is not asvaluable as commercial or industrial. I'll check to see what they paid for other tracts for schools. could be a REAL scandal - will post what I find.

  • lolly Jul 17, 2007

    www.newsobserver.com/news/education/wake/story/639639.html

    arrrgh posting URL s is tricky

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