Marlin: Council puts brakes on sale of last struck off properties

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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) Marlin city leaders have put the brakes on the sale of the last of the city’s struck off properties.

(Photo by Brodie Putz)

On Tuesday night, the city council voted to table an investor’s offer to purchase 102 properties for $104.

“Having an investor that wants to come in and possibly cleanup the properties could possibly be a great thing, I just think there’s some concerns as to how do we control what gets done on the properties to make sure that it's best for the city and the citizens,” said Marlin Mayor John Keefer.

Some Marlin residents were against the purchase, saying the price of about a dollar per property was unfair and citizens should be able to have the opportunity to buy them at such a low price.

“It needs to be made available to everybody to bid on,” said one resident.

“I’m not saying I don’t want Marlin to grow, I am saying every citizen in Marlin needs to have an opportunity,” said another. “I think this is an opportunity for some of our citizens who wouldn’t be able to buy property to get property.”

However, city leaders said there are many hidden costs associated with the lots, some of which have been burdening the city since 1979.

“It’s really not a dollar, it can be into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Keefer said of the costs future owners could be responsible for. “They’re overgrown, there is a lot of issues with them.”

The potential buyer, Jack Corley of Sulphur Springs, said he’s allocated $300,000 for the cleanup and expects all of it to be used.

“We didn’t come here just to make money, we came here to spend it,” said Corley.

The former dairy farmer and trucker turned property fixer and flipper, said he’s tied to a hedge fund with investors in Dallas, New York, and Canada.

“We have money available,” said Corley who was already building a truck stop in the area.

Corley said his plan is to build affordable housing throughout the city, including some section 8 homes.

“I’m not sure where I’m going from here but I’m not leaving ‘cuz there’s too much opportunity.”

He said the council’s decision not to move forward with the purchase was pushing back progress in a city that desperately needs it.

However, city leaders said they needed to get more information on the buyer’s intentions and form a policy on the sale of struck off properties.

“They can purchase a property and do what they choose without any restrictions, and that’s been part of our concern is we’d like to be able to have some say of what they do with the property,” said Keefer.

Keefer said they just want to make sure Marlin is protected before handing over the properties and will revisit the issue in two to four weeks.

“The council at that point will make a determination of what’s best for the city,” said Keefer.

“I don’t have an issue necessarily with the price, what I have an issue with is a city watching out for its citizens to make sure we have control, at least some say, and some guarantees from the buyer to make sure they are going to do what’s best for Marlin,” he said.