COLUMBIA CITY — Umesh Patel wants to own a piece of land that runs down the middle of his property. The question is, who’s land is it?
The Columbia City property owner asked the city to vacate the property at 405 E. Swihart St., however, the city’s attorney says it is not clear who actually owns the property.
Patel owns property on either side of the piece of land, that’s about 80 feet wide, and wants to own the land in the middle, making his property continuous. He contacted the city council, asking it to vacate the property, but city attorney Marcia McNagny says it might not be the city’s land to give.
It appears the property is a non-developed right-of-way, containing city electric utilities, but the land has not been parceled.
No permanent structures can be built on the property, and if Patel does obtain the land, he would be required to pay taxes on it — a benefit to the city.
“Nobody is paying taxes on it now,” Councilman Dan Weigold said. “It’s not used by anyone.”
Legally, however, the city may not be able to give Patel the land.
“If we don’t own it, is it ours to give?” Councilwoman Jennifer Romano asked. “I am a little uncomfortable with giving away land.”
McNagny suggested that Patel hire his own attorney and figure out his own plan of action.
“We can give notice, but it is up to him to do it on his own,” McNagny said. “I think he wants legal advice and we’re not here to give legal advice.”
Patel was not in attendance of the meeting.
Also at the meeting:
The city found out it did not receive a grant to extend the city’s trail to the new Columbia City High School property, south of the city on S.R. 9.
“There was $10 million to give and there were $100 million in requests,” Mayor Ryan Daniel said. Local officials are meeting to improve the application to try again for the next round.
A marketing company will be in the city June 5, 6, and 7 to film a promotional video for Columbia City.