SIKESTON - Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority Board members moved a step closer to making visible progress by awarding three bids for required professional services during their special meeting Monday.
The Board first awarded the bid to provide title insurance services over a period of six months on an estimated 75 transactions to the sole bidder, SEMO Title of Sikeston, after agreeing the terms were reasonable.
Next, the bid for surveyor services was awarded to the low bidder, Lambert Engineering and Surveying of Sikeston, which bid the work at $1.65 per parcel. Also bidding was Waters Engineering Inc. which offered a bid of $2.25 per parcel.
The third bid, for appraisal services, was awarded to the apparent low bidder, Mont Mitchell of Sikeston, who bid $135 per residential unit, subject to clarification on the type of appraisal. Also bidding was Hooper Land Company, which offered a price of $300 per residential unit, and Bollinger Real Estate, which bid $200 per residential unit.
With the type of appraisals being bid in question, Board member David Ziegenhorn noted that the LCRA may need "full-blown appraisals" for court proceedings instead of just "drive bys" appraisals with no interior or detailed inspection.
Mike Bohannon, LCRA Board chairman, said the surveyor may not be able to get interior access to all the properties, but "if we go to court we need something that would stand up in court" and that the appraiser should, in that case, "get all we can get on it."
Ziegenhorn also pointed out that to negotiate with owners, a drive-by appraisal may be all that is needed. He also suggested the job might be too much work for any single appraisal firm to complete in the time frame they are aiming for.
In other LCRA business:
* Bohannon recommended researching the possibility of recovering judgments from owners of properties with negative values.
"Some of the houses are in such a deteriorated state they can not be rehabilitated," Bohannon said. "They are only worth what the lot's worth, less the cost of demolition. Therefore, they are not an asset; they are a liability."
He noted the city is able to, after demanding that an owner level a structure determined to be unsafe, uninhabitable or unrepairable, level the structure and assess a lien for the cost.
"Let's see what kind of restitution the LCRA can seek for cleaning up their mess," Bohannon said.
Community Redevelopment Coordinator Trey Hardy also agreed to gather information on what the city has in place and needs to have in place, and agreed "it is imperative the city and LCRA work hand-in-hand on this."
"We are all new at this, so our learning curve is going to be steep," Bohannon said.
* Bohannon asked about the possibility of expanding the LCRA's redevelopment area.
Brian Menz, vice chairman of the LCRA Board, explained the city had originally asked if the entire city could be the designated redevelopment area, but Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets, a St. Louis consulting firm specializing in planning and urban renewal projects, advised the city to set up a smaller target area as it would be more manageable for the LCRA's startup phase.
Hardy noted that by adding just a two-block area on the west end of town, the LCRA could add seven more structures to their target area.
* Tom Bridger, public works director, said the city is almost ready to deed over 41 lots to the LCRA, 39 of which are vacant residential lots and only two having houses on them to be removed.
Bohannon said the LCRA needs to "proceed with haste with our lawncare." There will be, however, no hurry to appraise the properties as their values will not be an issue until redevelopment proposals are entertained, he said.
* David Crader, attorney for the LCRA, said the LCRA's Community Development Block Grant application for funds to demolish the old First Baptist Church and three residences would be submitted "hopefully this week."
* Pictures of the 33 properties currently targeted by the LCRA for action were reviewed.
Viewing a picture of a structure toward the top of the packet that was condemned in 1994, Hardy commented that the Board couldn't have picked a better example of why the city created his position and promised to provide a case history on the property to the LCRA soon.
* Crader said he has sent letters to property owners as listed by tax rolls for 33 properties targeted by the LCRA. Asked about responses, Crader said "every one was different," but said many asked how much the LCRA would be willing to pay for their property.
Bridger said the city has in the past found heirs keeping taxes current for many years on properties listed on tax rolls under the names of deceased owners.
* Councilman Michael Harris, Ward 4 representative, advised the Board that a recently-formed steering committee for his ward would like to meet with the LCRA.
He suggested March 25 as a possible meeting date.