Warren sells first batch of $1 lots

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published October 1, 2014

 Aric Dunn, Alex Dunn, 5, and Karen Dunn stand on the property next door that they recently moved to acquire for $1.

Aric Dunn, Alex Dunn, 5, and Karen Dunn stand on the property next door that they recently moved to acquire for $1.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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WARREN — What does $1 buy these days?

For one family on Mary Ann Drive south of Chicago Road and east of Ryan, the answer was a 30-foot lot next to their home.

It was one of seven city-owned lots recently approved for sale to adjacent property owners after a push that began last year. Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the city still has around 130 lots that administrators would like to let go of for just a buck.

“Anybody is welcome to apply, as long as they live adjacent to it,” Fouts said. “It’s a good situation. These are residential properties that are costing the city money with maintenance, grass cutting and snow removal. This saves the city money, and the homeowner has more property.”

Warren officials said the lot on Mary Ann was purchased by Aric Dunn and his family. They live next door and have used the lot as their own since they moved in a few years ago, as Dunn’s grandfather did when he owned the home.

Dunn said he learned the lot wasn’t already part of his property when he contacted the city to inquire about a larger piece of city-owned land next to it. He said the city made it easy to extend the width of his yard by 30 feet.

“All I did was just called and asked if it was available,” Dunn said. “For $1. Really, who wouldn’t buy the lot next door for $1?”

Sean Clark, an administrative supervisor with the city’s Public Service Department, which is overseeing the program, said the majority of the available lots are too small to build on and costly for the city to maintain.        
“It’s a great program. It’s a good chance for people to extend their yards, put up a privacy fence, things like that,” Clark told members of the Warren City Council in September. “We’d much rather have the residents own these properties. It’s better for the community, better for the neighborhoods and better for the appearance.”

Council members unanimously voted to sell the seven lots for $1 each.

Fouts said the city would also waive fees through the Building Department for Dunn, who plans to build a shed. He said the city’s Assessing Department would allow the new owners to apply for a principal residence exemption for the lot on their property taxes.

“It’s a win-win for the city,” Fouts said. “Everybody’s happy.”

Property owners wishing to purchase vacant, city-owned lots adjacent to or behind their own homes must be current on their taxes in order to buy them. 

Officials said while the real estate transactions are relatively easy, legally joining or transferring properties is a little “messy.”

Clark said that’s why the city is trying to avoid splitting a vacant lot between two interested neighbors.

To inquire about purchasing a vacant city-owned lot, call (586) 574-4646.

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