Sale of property in limbo
There could be a hitch in an agreement to sell an unused portion of a city of Bowling Green-owned landfill in Butler County to a Bowling Green business if the city of Morgantown decides to exercise its option to purchase the property.
Members of the Morgantown City Council voted Thursday evening to postpone a decision on whether to release their option to purchase 67 acres of unused property at the landfill in Butler County. The option to purchase was included in documents for original sale of the property in the 1970s to Bowling Green.
Butler County also has the option to purchase the property, and will consider the matter at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Judge-Executive David Fields said.
A small committee of council members was appointed Thursday to speak with Bowling Green and Owl’s Head Alloys Inc. – which is set to purchase the property – to gather more information and possibly set up a town hall meeting to share information with the public.
Concerns raised during the meeting included the potential economic impact that the new landfill would have and its potential impact on property values for those living near the currently unused landfill property.
The Bowling Green City Commission on Tuesday approved a municipal order declaring the 67 acres surplus and approving an agreement to sell the property to Owl’s Head Alloys for $167,500.
Owl’s Head Alloys plans to use the property as a landfill to dispose of salt slag, according to the municipal order.
At the time, Bowling Green City Manager Kevin DeFebbo said the city of Morgantown had been given the option of first refusal on the property and chose not to exercise that option to purchase the property.
Bowling Green City Attorney Gene Harmon said the city’s discussions about the property have been solely with Owl’s Head Alloys and not the city of Morgantown or Butler County.
“When we did this, we were under the impression that Butler County and Morgantown were OK with it,” he said.
A number of buyer contingencies were written into the agreement to sell the property, including the release of the option to purchase from both Morgantown and Butler County, Harmon said.
“This sale will not close until this contingency is satisfied,” Harmon said.
Morgantown Mayor Linda Keown said before the council meeting Thursday that she attended a meeting at least two months ago that included a representative from Owl’s Head Alloys and the county judge-executive to discuss the landfill property.
The Morgantown City Council also discussed the issue in a work session, but never came to a decision, she said.
Morgantown Councilwoman Dionne Merritt said after the meeting Thursday that the city needs to learn more about the impact that Owl’s Head Alloys buying the unused landfill property might have.
“The city needs to further study what Owl’s Head wants to do with this property,” she said.
A business called Aleris already has a landfill near the property in question, and Merritt said she’s concerned that the new landfill could jeopardize existing jobs at Aleris.
Morgantown Councilman Terrell House said after the meeting that, while the council wants more industry in Morgantown and Butler County, they need more information before making a decision about the property.
“We could purchase it if the need was there,” he said.
During the meeting, House discussed the possibility of Morgantown purchasing the unused landfill property and then selling it to property owners in the city that already own adjacent land.
David Bradford, president of Owl’s Head Alloys, said that in a meeting with Keown and Fields, he was told they probably weren’t interested in purchasing the property.
However, he said he’s willing to sit down with Morgantown city leadership to discuss his intended use for the property.
“It’s all brand new to them,” Bradford said.
He dismissed the idea that an Owl’s Head Alloys landfill near the existing Aleris landfill, where the same type of material is dumped, could have a negative impact on the number of jobs in the area.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Bradford said.
Fields said Thursday that the county probably won’t be interested in purchasing the property, but the environmental impact and potential liability if the county were to purchase the property are a concern.
“I think it’s just probably somebody jumped the gun a little bit,” Fields said.
* * *
Story by KATIE BRANDENBURG
The Daily News, Bowling Green
Kentucky Press News Service