Land exchange meeting receives little input


HURON – A land swap that, in part, will mean the state will own rather than lease the former Huron University practice football field and the south half of the former cement plant property in a residential neighborhood will head to the governor for his signature after the paperwork is finished.
Commissioner of School and Public Lands Ryan Brunner held required hearings in Miller, Redfield and Huron on Wednesday. One individual submitted written comments, but there was no other public input.
The land exchange includes state-owned acres in Hand and Spink counties and two privately owned parcels in southwest Huron that have been leased by the state.
The deal will swap 58.5 acres of public lands owned by the state in rural Hand and Spink counties for 7.5 acres of private property that was listed for sale in Huron not far from the state fairgrounds.
The owner of the two properties in Huron is Azkota Investments Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. The commissioner’s office acquired a purchase option from the owner. The state Department of Agriculture has been leasing the property for $2,500 per year so that livestock and carnival trailers can be parked there during events on the fairgrounds.
The two parcels had been listed for sale for a total of $104,900. About $1,500 in property taxes are paid to the county each year.
State-owned pasture lands in the deal are 50 acres in Hand County and 8.5 acres in Spink County, valued at a total of $117,366.
Donald and Gwen Gross will own the 8.5 acres, which is unleased abandoned railroad right of way that they thought they had bought when they purchased land to the north. A title insurance company discovered the fact that it was actually owned by the state.
Dale and Susan Hargens will own the 50 acres in Hand County, which they have been leasing.
He submitted written remarks at the Miller hearing.
“I think the land trade is a good deal for all involved,” he wrote. “The ag land in Hand County is very remote with poor access and the State Fair will benefit from the lots near the fairgrounds.”
Brunner has said the land trade makes sense in that it will give the State Fair a long-term lease so it can continue to have a close location to park trailers, and the land in Hand and Spink counties has been generating limited income. It had leased for $612 a year compared with the $2,500 lease payment per year the state Department of Agriculture will pay School and Public Lands once the deal is completed.
“So the end result is trading 58.5 acres of pasture land for 7.5 acres of commercial property plus $12,466 cash based on appraisals to make the transaction equal,” Brunner said.
The trade involves the south half of the former cement plant property. The north half is also leased by the state Department of Agriculture, but has a different owner and is not listed for sale.
The last time the state did a similar land exchange was in 2004.

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