City sells 11 Mile Road property after adjusting sale policy

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published September 25, 2013

ROYAL OAK — Minutes after rescinding a city policy that required two public hearings and a bidding process before land is sold, the City Commission approved the selling of a parcel along 11 Mile Road Sept. 16.

The commission rescinded a portion of the property-sale policy, which it approved in 2008, with a 6-0 vote. Mayor Jim Ellison was absent from the meeting.

The former city policy required two public hearings and a public bidding process, but City Attorney David Gillam said it had proved to be “troublesome” on the city staff and held up prospective sales, because the administration had to come to the commission each time an offer was made.

“It’s our position that an across-the-board policy is not needed,” Gillam said during the meeting.

He said in a subsequent phone interview that the commission commonly waived the use of the now-defunct policy, allowing the city administration to act as a “gatekeeper” for offers prior to them coming to the commission for approval. The new policy makes that process standard.

He admitted that transparency under the new policy could potentially take a hit, but the commission must still approve the sale at a public meeting. Once in front of the commission, the administration must back its reasoning for approving a prospective buyer over another, Gillam said.

“You have to be able to justify what you did in front of the City Commission,” he said.

City Manager Don Johnson said during the meeting that the commission, under the new policy, could still choose to do a public hearing.

“During initial discussion, if you felt a public hearing was appropriate, you could call a public hearing,” Johnson said.

The city sold property at 1207 and 1211 E. Eleven Mile Road to Karen Barr, of KL Barr Properties LLC, for $151,000 cash, according to city records.

The city acquired the site in 2007 using a Community Development Block Grant to demolish the site and prepare it for sale, according to a memo to the City Commission.

Barr, along with her husband, Chris Barr, said she was still working out details and renderings for what she planned to do with the land, but she planned to turn it into a mixed-use structure. She also said they were looking into purchasing an adjacent property and that its purchase would dictate what kind of building they construct.