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FARMINGTON -- The City Council on June 8 voted to sell Ecology Park and undeveloped lots around it, about 3.4 acres in all, for a high bid of $85,000 to Paul Schmidt with PAS Leasing.

Schmidt offered cash for the purchase. The contract is contingent on the land being rezoned to MF-2, multi-family, which allows duplexes and other multi-family developments. The city will have to ask to rezone the land at a future Farmington Planning Commission meeting.

The land includes Ecology Park off Double Springs Road in the Farmington Creek subdivision. In all, the land is platted as eight undeveloped lots in that subdivision.

The city also received a $77,000 bid for the land from Keith Marrs with Eagle Holdings LLC.

The council agreed to offer the land for sale at its February meeting and authorized Mayor Ernie Penn to advertise the land for sale and accept sealed bids.

At the time, Penn said the discussion to sell the park was precipitated by Schmidt who had purchased duplexes and four-plexes in the area and updated and completely remodeled the units. Schmidt asked the city if it had considered selling the property.

Floyd Shelley, city public works manager, said the park is rarely used and is a maintenance issue for city employees who have to mow and weed-eat the property. At times, the city has had to replace fencing because of damage during heavy rains, Shelley told council members.

In an email to Penn, Schmidt said he was looking forward to working with the city on a housing development and anticipated spending between $3.5-$4 million on the project.

In a memo to council members, Penn said Schmidt is planning to build additional multi-family structures on the land.

This area already has four single family homes, two four-plexes and eight duplexes, Penn said.

"The sale of this property will alleviate the city having to maintain this property and be a cost savings to the City," Penn wrote.

He recommends depositing the $85,000 in the general fund to cover any shortfalls in sales tax revenues that may come because of the effects of covid-19 on the economy.

In other action, the city accepted a low bid of $58,659 from Sweetser Construction Inc., of Fayetteville, for a drainage project on Ash Street. In all, the city received three bids for the project. The high bid was $82,548 from APAC Central.

Shelley last week said the wing walls on the boxed culvert on that street were installed incorrectly and water backs up on the street. On rare occasions, houses have flooded on the street.

The drainage improvement project will help alleviate any flooding during major rain events and will stop water backing up on the street during "super soakers," Shelley said.

The council also approved a request to rezone almost 105 acres on the west side of North Hunter from A-1, agriculture, to R-1 residential single family, as requested by Dynasty Trust #3.

A preliminary plat for a project on part of this land has already been approved by Farmington Planning Commission but city officials did not realize at the time some of the land was still zoned agricultural, not residential.

The rezoning ordinance approved by the council means all of the land is now zoned R-1, which requires lots with a minimum size of 10,000 square feet.

The only comment from the public about this request came from City Council member Sherry Mathews, who lives on North Hunter. Mathews has asked questions at Planning Commission meetings about street improvements along North Hunter that are part of the project planned for the land.

"I have a lot of questions but I have asked them and not received answers," Mathews said. "I've been to Planning Commission meetings so they are aware of my concerns."

Mathews said she realized her questions do not deal with the rezoning request but with construction and she hoped to get answers for those questions.

Vice Mayor Bobby Morgan presided over the June 7 meeting in the absence of Mayor Ernie Penn. Penn recently had bypass surgery and is resting at home on medical leave.

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