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Live in Prince George's: County Land Up for Grabs

The real estate market remains in the gutter, but that hasn't stopped County Executive Jack B. Johnson from seeking to either sell or transfer more than 80 parcels of county land.

At the request of Johnson (D), the County Council has introduced a resolution to designate the land as "surplus," and then to either sell or transfer them.

According to the appraised values listed in the proposal, the combined parcels are worth more than $2 million, although some are valued as low as $170 and as high as $465,422.

Mike Herman, Johnson's chief of staff, said that in many cases, the adjacent landowners requested to purchase them for fair-market value, and the county has no use for the land, which is "undevelopable." In one case, a parcel valued at $465,422 is being transferred to the Stream Valley Park System. In many cases, the names of the proposed buyers are not listed.

Johnson's spokesman, John Erzen, said the sale of surplus land is routine, and that given the recession, the extra money will help the county.

"There isn't anything out of the ordinary about it," Erzen said. "Obviously, at a time like this, every little bit helps. It's part of something we do every year."

A quick scan of the county's legislative database shows that the surplus land sales and transfers are indeed common, although they have typically involved just a handful of parcels in recent years.

For example, an approved resolution last year involved four parcels, valued at more than $5 million combined. A failed resolution in 2004 dealt with one parcel valued at $3,160. And an approved resolution in September 2002, under the previous county executive, Wayne K. Curry (D), involved two parcels.

Herman said the large number of parcels in the current resolution are the county "playing catch-up," since officials have not unloaded many parcels in recent years.

Prince George's officials are not the only ones unloading land during a downturn. A company in Loudoun County that had planned to develop a massive project recently put more than 4,100 acres up for auction after the property was foreclosed.

The Prince George's County Council will be briefed on the resolution later this afternoon, though Chairwoman Marilynn M. Bland said no action will be taken today.

"There are a lot of properties to be considered," Bland said.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  October 6, 2009; 1:19 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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