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Granite Shoals approves long-debated land sale

Portion of Lot 51 in Granite Shoals

The land on the far side of the water is technically within Lot 51, which is designated as Timberhill Park in Granite Shoals. The city approved an ordinance that would allow adjacent property owners to buy the land, which is in their backyard. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

After a year-long, often contentious debate, Granite Shoals city councilors finally approved an ordinance allowing for the sale of portions of lots 51 and 56 to property owners who have the city-owned land in their backyard. The city has consistently battled over the ethics, legality, and history of this land sale because some considered it parkland and another city ordinance prohibits the sale of parkland. State law requires a public vote to sell parkland.

The new ordinance designates certain portions of city-owned lots 51 and 56 as fill and not parkland, which allows for the sale. 

The land in question was considered part of nearby Timberhill Park but is separated from the main park by a canal. The only way for the public to access the land is by boat or across private property. The 0.14 acres of land was created with fill dirt after the park was deeded to the city, according to research conducted by city officials. The decision was made during the City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The issue originally came before the council in March 2022.

The 6,236-square-foot portion of Lot 51 behind the home of Yvett and Corby Daughtrey on Cedarhill Drive will be offered to them for about $35,000. This value was calculated by Interim City Manager Peggy Smith, who took the average square-foot price of 15 portions of fill area land along the shores of Lake LBJ in Granite Shoals to reach a value of $5.62 per square-foot.

“I think it seems like a fair price,” Corby Daughtrey told DailyTrib.com after the decision.

“We’ve never gone into this to do anything other than to be fair,” Yvett Daughtrey said.

The Daughtreys have been working with the city since February 2022 to acquire the land behind their home, but fears over the sale of city parkland derailed negotiations.

“These areas that we’re talking about selling are fill areas, based on research we’ve done,” City Attorney Joshua Katz said. “We don’t believe they actually existed in 1973 at the time those lots were conveyed to the city.” 

Katz found in his research that local government codes allowed for the sale of city land to adjacent property owners without going through public auction or a bidding process, especially in cases like lots 51 and 56. These portions of land are inaccessible except by neighboring landowners, have no public road access, and are oddly shaped. All of the aforementioned conditions make them eligible for a straightforward sale.

“I don’t think anyone will be able to point to this and be able to sell any parks,” Katz said, assuring that future councils could not use this particular ordinance to sell parkland.

“We’ve been talking about this thing for well over a year, and I am so glad to put it to bed,” said Place 1 Councilor Ron Munos to a round of applause. 

The vote to sell was unanimous.

Even vehement parks advocate Shirley King offered her full support of the ordinance.

“It’s been a long journey, but we’re here now,” she said.

dakota@thepicayune.com