The Columbia City Council made its way through the listed agenda items at this month’s regular meeting, Monday, Feb. 7, in less than 15 minutes. The rest of the almost hour-long affair was spent discussing an issue on the border of city and private property, with no resolution being reached.
Joe and Dana Brown, speaking in the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting, explained that they owned property that borders the city, with an old, 12-feet long outbuilding right on the line, seven feet of which sets on city property. The Browns said that they—along with the previous property owners—believed that the entire structure sat on their property when they purchased the plot. They did not conduct a land survey when they bought the property.
Joe Brown said that he would like to tear down the building, which is in disrepair, but doesn’t have enough room for a new building, especially since the city forbids placing a new structure within 15 feet of the city’s property. He said that ideally, he’d like to buy enough land to go back an additional 25 feet, stretching the length of his property, estimated at over 100 feet, so he could replace the dilapidated building with a new structure.
Unfortunately for Brown and his wife, the city cannot simply sell them the land. City Attorney Derrick Helm said that to sell the property, the city would have to declare the plot surplus and accept bids, selling the land to the highest bidder. A stipulation could be added that the council does not have to accept a bid. Of course, this solution leaves open the possibility of another buyer acquiring the land, which would not solve the Browns’ problem. This scenario is unlikely considering the plot would be small and landlocked.
More than a week after the meeting, Columbia Mayor Pam Hoots says she’s still not sure what course of action will be taken.
“That will have to be addressed at the next council meeting,” Hoots says. “A lot of it will depend on what [Dana and Joe Brown] want us to do, and what we’re allowed to do. I expect it to be discussed again.”
All councilors were present for the meeting.