City’s offer of $237,550 to purchase home in slide area ‘too low’

Santa Clara City is offering to purchase this home on Cinnamon Circle as part of a landslide stabilization project, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 15, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – The Santa Clara City Council lowered power impact fees, approved funds for an environmental assessment and heard an appeal from homeowners affected by the Truman Drive landslide at a regular meeting Wednesday.

Scott and Judy Larsen appeared at the City Council meeting to appeal an offer made by the city to purchase their home for $237,550.

This home on Cinnamon Circle has been condemned because of the Truman Drive landslide. It is one of several homes that will be torn down as part of an effort to stabilize the hillside, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 15, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
This home on Cinnamon Circle has been condemned because of the Truman Drive landslide. It is one of several homes that will be torn down as part of an effort to stabilize the hillside, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 15, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The Larsen home is located at 1656 Cinnamon Circle and is one of three properties affected by the slide that the city is offering to buy as part of a hillside stabilization project.

The hillside near Truman Drive on the edge of Santa Clara Heights has been sliding for decades.

One home on Cinnamon Circle, next door to the Larsens, has been condemned and purchased by the city.

Several other properties are affected and more are at risk if the slide is not stopped.

A $1.2 million federal grant and $351,00 loan were approved in July; the funds will be used to stabilize the hillside and, hopefully, stop the slide permanently.

Read more: Santa Clara wins FEMA grant for blue clay slide

The Larsens are one of three homes Santa Clara City officials are offering to buy. The other two homeowners have accepted offers made by the city.

Read more: City offers to purchase 3 homes affected by landslide

The Larsens, however, feel the city’s offer of $237,550 was too low and spoke at length to the City Council Wednesday about their home’s worth and asked for a higher offer.

The Larsen home sits on a half-acre and was completely remodeled after the couple purchased the home in 2002, Scott Larsen said. The home is over 4,000 square-feet and has a pickleball, basketball and volleyball court and is fully landscaped.

The Larsens are in their 70s, on fixed income and are concerned about being able to get a loan for a “comfortable” new home, Scott Larsen told the council.

The city’s offers were based on an appraisal which calculated a hypothetical value of $350,000, assuming the landslide never happened, and an as-is value of $52,500, city attorney Matt Ence said.

To get the final offer of $237,550, the city took the high appraised value of $350,000 and averaged it with the 2016 Washington County assessed value.

The offers for all three properties were about 66 percent of the high appraisal value, Rosenberg said.

City officials were sympathetic to the Larsens’ plight but said finding more money for them would be difficult. The federal loan and grant are capped and there is not a large contingency fund built into the project.

Officials discussed a number of options for finding more money which include using city workers and equipment to do more of the project work than is currently planned. This would likely delay other needed city projects, however.

Another option is to take money out of the city’s general fund, which would require a public hearing to reopen the budget.

In the end, the matter was postponed until January while the city rechecks their appraisal numbers and the Larsens decide whether or not to get their own appraisal.

Officials expressed concern about the Larsens’ safety during the delay over the purchase price.

The Larsens are monitoring movement in their home, and it hasn’t moved much recently, Scott Larsen said.

However, that is typical during a long dry spell and could change quickly, Rosenberg said.

“Be vigilant,” he said. “Don’t ignore anything.”

“Feel free to move out of the home,” Ence said.

Impact fees

After a public hearing, the City Council lowered power impact fees for most residential properties by nearly $1,000 and adjusted fees for other types of properties upward.

“Our impact fees went down,” councilman Herb Basso said. “Everybody says Santa Clara’s the highest, we’ve never been the highest and now we’re actually giving back  … ”

Residential 200-amp fees – which include about 99 percent of new homes – was changed from $4,739 to $3,798, public works director Jack Taylor said.

Impact fees for homes over 200 amps are higher under the new rate structure, as are fees for commercial buildings.

Outdoor sports park

Concept plan for new outdoor sports park planned in the South Hills area of Santa Clara | Image courtesy of Santa Clara City, St. George News
Initial concept plan for new outdoor sports park in the South Hills area of Santa Clara | Image courtesy of Santa Clara City, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The City Council approved $23,000 for an environmental assessment of a 52-acre parcel in the South Hills which is currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

It is hoped that the land will be transferred to the city at no cost under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act; the environmental assessment is required for that process to proceed.

The new park is planned for an area south of Gates Lane and Clary Hills Drive, near the city water tanks and Cove Wash Trailhead.

The location offers access to several existing mountain biking trails, and more trails are planned for the area by the BLM. The park is being designed to host mountain biking and trail-running events such as the True Grit race.

Read more: Biking, running, pump track; Santa Clara reveals plan for outdoor sports park

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • comments December 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    They should try their luck with the free market then because the city buying the property is blatantly socialism. They can either sell it on the market or live in it til it sinks into oblivion. Seems more than a fair offer for a property that is likely close to worthless in its current state.

  • Sapphire December 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    So stupid people build homes and buy homes on the edges of cliffs and then the city (taxpayers) have to pay for it and these entitled brats think the free money is too low for them? Hope they lose their house. By the way where was the city inspector when this house was permitted? Dumb all the way around.

    • mrsmith December 16, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      The home was built in 1984. I’m sure they let them get away with just about anything permit wise. It’s a bad situation all around and people should learn their lesson about building/buying on the edge of a cliff. There’s a brand new house on Foremaster that is literally hanging over the cliff. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  • old school December 15, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Larsen’s are probably lucky the city is offering anything, don’t mean to sound cold hearted but, have seen homes condemned in slide areas all over northern Utah, city/county/state washed their hands of it and the homeowner got nothing. Unfortunately, the land is basically worthless and should be thankful the city’s offering them a quarter million for it, hopefully there isn’t much of a loan involved

  • Mike December 15, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I think it’s way to low should go at least 75.00 a sq. ft.

  • [email protected] December 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Utah has plenty of examples where city/county administrators have approved subdivisions on land that was scientifically found to be a geologic hazard. The Wasatch Front has plenty of homes stretching from Morgan County down to Utah County that are at risk. The University of Utah has done some serious research to characterize these risks. It has only been in the past ten years that our city/county administrators have implemented geologic hazard assessments prior to approving new developments. As negligent as this may appear, they have no legal liability for all the homeowners who are already at risk.

    Bottom Line: The Larsens, and other property owners living along that ledge in SC, are lucky that the city is offering any help, since they have no legal liability.

    • comments December 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      exactly. I know a couple who bought a house here in stg. The house developed severe settling issues and was built on a lot that should never have been approved. Their insurance didn’t cover any of the settling and they’ve spent about 40,000 in repairs so far. Bottom line: the folks in this article are damn lucky to be getting a dime, and without this federal grant I doubt they would. Like I said this is blatantly socialism.

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