Village-owned parcels to be made available for sale

RANTOUL — Nearly 60 vacant properties owned by the village of Rantoul sit idle in residential neighborhoods throughout the community.

The village and other taxing districts receive no real estate tax income from the properties, and village workers must maintain them.

That might soon end — at least for some of the parcels.

The village board is studying a proposal to sell 57 residential lots, with local residents getting first dibs.

Village trustee Sam Hall presented the measure to the village board last week to sell the lots in areas ranging from Briarcliff Drive to Letchworth Avenue; from Garrard Street to Keesler Drive.

Under Hall’s tentative proposal, which was finalized later in the week, neighboring property owners of the lots in question would get first crack at buying them for $100 per parcel plus a recording fee of $108 to the Champaign County register of deeds. If neighbors on both sides of a lot want to buy it, they can split ownership down the middle.

Lots would be available only to homeowners who live in their house.

For properties where no neighbors want to buy, Rantoul residents as a whole would be allowed to buy with minimum bids set at $250.

Unsold properties would then be made available countywide.  

There will be a purchase limit of two parcels.

All three phases would each have a 90-day window for buyers to apply. They would be given 60 days from the application date to finalize the purchase.

The purchaser would also be responsible for any additional property taxes assessed for the extra lot and utility charges such as stormwater fees.

Interested buyers should contact the village.

The program is being offered on a pilot basis.

Hall said the buyers could improve the lots to build homes or other buildings on. Or they could be used for a community garden or any other purpose permitted by zoning regulations.

The prospective buyer must be current on all obligations to the village and the county to qualify.

“My thought is to make it quick,” Hall said of the process.

Liens might have been placed on some of the properties. Village Administrator Rick Snider said when properties are made available for a tax sale, however, all liens disappear.

“It wouldn’t be out of character for us to do that ourselves,” Snider said.

The village’s goal isn’t to make a lot of money on the sale of the parcels but to cut maintenance costs and to realize income through additional property taxes.

“If we can get these back on the tax rolls, it’s going to help all the taxing bodies a lot more than if we just try for a lot of money on the sale itself. Plus the fact that we won’t have to maintain it anymore,” Snider said.

Hall proposed that a buyer could not re-sell the property until five years after purchase.

Resident Wendell Golston said the program might just be the break some people need to build a home.

“We’ve had people who have gone all their life (without being able to build a home), and one of the biggest (obstacles) is not being able to acquire the property first. So let’s try to give them the opportunity to build a home and become productive taxpayers.”

Snider said the program generally wouldn’t affect the village’s setting up of a land bank. He said  land bank properties are generally “very challenging properties.”
“Some of these lots I think have good value in the market,” Snider said. “I don’t think we’re going to have much trouble getting rid of them. The land bank might take on things that we just don’t know how to market. Sometimes you get a building that’s had a specific purpose and the business is gone, and so now you don’t know what to do with it.”

Mayor Chuck Smith said the village has also looked into donating some properties for Habitat for Humanity homes.



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