JEROME, Mo. (March 24, 2010) — Would you like to buy more than 90 acres of heavily wooded land on the north side of Interstate 44 just east of the Pulaski-Phelps County line near Jerome and the BNSF railroad bridge crossing?
If so, Missouri Department of Transportation personnel want to hear from you.
The property is one of 32 parcels MoDOT describes as “prime real estate throughout the state” which will be auctioned off from April 26 to 30 during MoDOT’s second “Realty to Roads” property blitz. The first effort in November of last year realized a net profit of more than $675,000 for road and bridge projects, according to a MoDOT press release.
The Jerome property is the only one in the Fort Leonard Wood area being auctioned and bids for its 93.86 acres will be opened at 10 a.m. on April 29 in the Willow Springs office of MoDOT District 9, but other parcels range from as much as 200 acres down to a quarter-acre in size.
However, there’s a complication to the Jerome property: Due to the relocation of some of the curves of Interstate 44 in what was known as the Arlington Project in 2002, MoDOT had to purchase two different parcels of land that were being “landlocked” with no roadway access.
“The reason we bought those in the first place was we were not going to allow access back into it and we were going to landlock the property,” said Lisa Durnell, a certified appraiser with MoDOT. “We relocated a portion of the interstate at the Arlington Project; when they relocated a few miles of it, it cut off a few properties. The properties on the north were landlocked but the properties on the south can still be accessed off the old highway.”
The Phelps County plat map showing 104 acres is incorrect, Durnell said; the MoDOT acreage is based on a survey done by MoDOT personnel which showed about two acres less land than MoDOT had expected when the property was purchased in 2002.
The property has about a quarter-mile of frontage of Interstate 44 on the southeast but cannot be used for billboards advertising anything other than activities on the same property. It also borders the Mark Twain National Forest on the northeast, several parcels owned by Leo and Rachel Clark on the north, west, and southwest, and a parcel owned by John and Mary Herbig on the northeast.
In the MoDOT announcement of the property sale, Gregory Wood, Realty to Roads Project Director in MoDOT’s Right of Way Division, said selling excess property not only raises money for MoDOT road projects but also “saves us maintenance costs and puts the property back on the tax rolls to the advantage of local communities.”
There’s generally a reason the properties were owned by MoDOT, and those reasons are often due to difficulties in development such as access issues, wetlands, or ponds. MoDOT personnel could not immediately confirm the presence of wetlands on the property, but did note that it is heavily wooded.
Who would want a landlocked property, or one that has undevelopable wetlands?
In some cases, the purchaser is an adjacent property owner; in other cases, the person may want to use the property for reasons having nothing to do with development.
“While wetland properties are protected by law from being developed, they could provide the perfect setting for someone wanting to hunt the land or preserve it for environmental purposes,” according to the MoDOT press release.
The property was also offered for sale in February 2009 through a consultant, but Durnell said there were no bids presented in writing at that time.