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Thread: Cities owning "real" property outside city limits...examples, please

  1. #1

    Cities owning "real" property outside city limits...examples, please

    Here in Buffalo, NY city officials built a "TB" hospital 40 miles to the south in Perrysburg, NY 90 years ago. Today some city officials are "blocking" the transfer of this abandoned property claiming the city has certain "reversonary rights" and perhaps a long term interest in some of the parcels.

    I've written extensively about this deal over here....http://tinyurl.com/7kewr if you want to learn more about this specific case.

    I'd like to know if there are other examples that come to mind of cities owning real property outside their respective "city limits." If so, what are the taxing rules and regs for the property. I know full well that city owned property with in city limits is not taxed. Yet what happens when the property is outside the city limits.

    Thanks in advance...

    David

    http://fixbuffalo.blogspot.com

  2. #2

    O'Hare in Chicago

    O'Hare International Airport in Chicago is located outside the general perimeter of the city, yet it is still "in the city of Chicago." I think there is some sort of municipal pseudopod reaching out and surrounding it. I don't know how that managed to happen, but Mayor Daley seems very possessive of O'Hare.

    I doubt that it is a similar case in terms of taxation, as O'Hare is somehow technically within the city limits, and airports tend to be under mixed control of more than just the municipal or even state governments.

  3. #3
    Member DRJ's avatar
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    The City of Atlanta and New York City have purchased considerable property along rivers oputside of their city limits to preserve water quality. NYC purchased considerable property along the upper Hudson River and Atlana has purchased considerable property in Cobb County along the Chatahoochee River. It is a fairly common occurance.

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    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Manchester (NH) Airport is located 70% in the Town of Londonderry, NH but owns all of the property.

    Fairly common for NH municipalities to own land in other communities for water supply or sewerage treatment.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Village of Blackville, NB well is outside the village limits on property they own.

    Moncton and Saint John have reservoirs outside their limits.

    Toronto has a few reservoirs outside its limits.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    The City of Detroit has numerous properties outside of the City limits. Many of there are being sold off to developers who are turning old prisons into luxury housing (yes they are bulldosing the whole prison, to call a loft made of a former prison cell luxury is quite the stretch). The City also owns a zoo and runs a municipal golf course outside of the City Limits.

    The City of Dearborn (al large Detroit inner-ring suburb) also owns land outside its boundaries which is used as a private park for Dearborn residents for camping and golfing.

    If I am not mistaken, the City of Chicago owns the rail lines that connect O'Hare with the City proper; giving it a contigous element to to real city limit.

  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    to clarify: O'Hare is fully within the Chicago city limits. The airport is connected to the rest of the city by a narrow isthmus of land straddling I-90.

    Annexation laws here in Illinios allow munis to annex land a a rather haphazard and seemingly unstructured manner. Bascially the land just has to be contiguous to be annexable.

    The City of Ann Arbor, MI recently approved a tax increase to fund the purchase of a greenbelt around the City.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    nyc owns land upstate that includes a water resevoir

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have found that it is not uncommon for cities to own property outside of their limits. Parks people buy it for open space preservation. Water utilities buy it to preserve water quality. Sewage treatment plants buy farmland for sludge spreading. Economic development organizations buy it for future development. No, not uncommon at all.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    to clarify: O'Hare is fully within the Chicago city limits. The airport is connected to the rest of the city by a narrow isthmus of land straddling I-90.

    Annexation laws here in Illinios allow munis to annex land a a rather haphazard and seemingly unstructured manner. Bascially the land just has to be contiguous to be annexable.

    The City of Ann Arbor, MI recently approved a tax increase to fund the purchase of a greenbelt around the City.
    The City of Appleton's new waterworks is in the City of Menasha, WI.

    Also, Wisconsin law does allow a city or village to annex unincorporated land that it owns, even though it may not actually be contiguous to the city or village. Appleton has two city-owned parcels that are officially inside the city limits, even though they are islands of non-contiguous land. One is a closed city landfill and the other is the intake pumping station (on the Lake Winnebago lakeshore) for the city's water system.

    Mike

    Mike

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    to clarify: O'Hare is fully within the Chicago city limits. The airport is connected to the rest of the city by a narrow isthmus of land straddling I-90.

    Annexation laws here in Illinios allow munis to annex land a a rather haphazard and seemingly unstructured manner. Bascially the land just has to be contiguous to be annexable.
    I kind of knew that already (an isthmus being somehow related to a pseudopod). I sort of just wanted to complain about it because it's fairly ridiculous.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    property

    The City of Akron, Ohio owns several reservoirs that are outside the city limits. A continuing controversy is who owns the water rights to the (upper) Cuyahoga River which is empounded by one of the reservoirs.
    WALSTIB

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    nyc owns land upstate that includes a water resevoir
    I was just going to say that because I remember doing a reading on how the water reservoir system developed for the city of New York sometimes during university...

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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    The City of Dearborn (al large Detroit inner-ring suburb) also owns land outside its boundaries which is used as a private park for Dearborn residents for camping and golfing.
    I remember hearing that the City of Dearborn once owned property in Florida. Apparently they were so flush with tax revenue from Ford that the city was able to buy a beach resort exclusively of Dearborn residents. Is this true, or just an urban legend?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is outside the city limits of Atlanta. I don't know what the tax situation is though...

    Atlanta also owns a big chunk of land in north Georgia that was to be used for a second airport. The locals are actually opposed to Atlanta (who they normally hate for the crime of existing) selling the land since they get it use it as a free recreation area.
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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    I remember hearing that the City of Dearborn once owned property in Florida. Apparently they were so flush with tax revenue from Ford that the city was able to buy a beach resort exclusively of Dearborn residents. Is this true, or just an urban legend?

    Yes you are quite right. They own a senior living center down there for the snowbirds. Good catch Pete! From the City of Dearborn's public housing home page:

    Dearborn Towers, 813.446.2020, Clearwater, Florida

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    My fair city owns 3 parks/fields, used for soccer, outside the city limits.
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    NYC and Syracuse

    The City of Syracuse owns Hancock International Airport, and pays taxes under a PILOT agreement with the Town of DeWitt, where it sits.

    NYC pays taxes on its Catskill Watershed properties that it owns.

    Like the Dearborn public housing in Florida..

  19. #19
    Here in little Sandusky, OH, our city owns several parcels outside the City, including a landfill, police shooting range and a cemetary. These things are often times better situated outside City limits.
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  20. #20
    This is from the Boston Globe a while back:
    WOBURN
    220-acre land gift presents dilemma
    Fate of parcel lies with Boston
    By Alexander Reid, Globe Staff | September 15, 2005

    In 1930, widow Mary P. Cummings donated to Boston about 220 acres of land on the Burlington-Woburn border, hoping the city would find a way to create a ''public pleasure ground" for Boston residents.
    A good 20 miles from Boston, it is too far from the city to make its use as a public park practical, Boston officials say. Burlington and Woburn would gladly take the land and build sorely needed baseball or soccer fields, but it's not theirs to use.
    Now Boston has opened talks with Burlington officials about selling the property to a developer. The parcel is said to be worth more than $22 million, according to an appraisal done several years ago. The money would be funneled into a fund that would pay for maintenance costs for the Rose Kennedy Greenway and other new parks being created in or near the path of the old Central Artery.
    Boston officials say they want a solution that is acceptable to all the communities since there is some question about what the Cummings's deed allows the city to do with the property, and they don't want Burlington and Woburn to challenge any sale.
    Jeffrey Conley, executive director of the Boston Finance Commission, said the idea of selling the property to a developer seems the best solution. Boston officials lament the fact that the valuable parcel is not benefiting the city.
    ''The city has had this land in trust for 75 years now," said Conley. ''That's a long time. The city gets no use out of it today. We think the location might be suitable for something like a golf course and perhaps a hotel facility. Right now, though, we're just talking" with Burlington.
    the talks so far have involved Burlington officials because most of the land, about 180 acres, lies in Burlington off Blanchard Road. Burlington Town Administrator Robert Mercier said the town has been receptive to Boston's overtures but has not committed to anything.
    ''The property is a big dilemma," said Mercier. ''It's a wonderful parcel of open space. There would be many uses that could benefit Burlington, but it's not our land. But whatever Boston decides to do with the land is of major interest to us since it would have an obvious impact on Burlington."
    Burlington recreation officials approached Boston about using a portion of the property for ball fields in 2003.
    ''Our offer was to lease space, on a short-term basis for five years, for ball fields," said Kevin Sullivan, chairman of the town's Recreation Commission. ''It's a great site. Open space that was accessible. It's hard to find property like that, but Boston didn't sign on to any agreement so the idea didn't move forward."
    Woburn Mayor John C. Curran said his city also has a stake in the fate of the Cummings property, though only 40 acres of the parcel are within its borders. He said Woburn would be opposed to any major development, particularly residential or commercial, that would increase density in the area. He said he didn't want to comment on the possibility of a golf course and hotel until he sees a proposal.
    Curran said the land is adjacent to Cambridge Road (Route 3), which already suffers from high traffic volume generated by a shopping mall and an office park. A development company, Archstone Communities, has proposed building a 420-unit apartment complex on an adjacent 75-acre parcel on Cambridge Road, near Bedford Road. The developers want to designate 20 percent of the units as affordable under the state's Chapter 40B law.
    ''The prospect of any development on the Cummings Trust property would raise concerns in Woburn," said Curran. ''We already have traffic problems, which are related to aggressive development in that area of the city. We don't want to see anything that would make things worse."
    Boston officials concede it is unclear whether Cummings's will allows the city to sell the land since the intent of the trust was that it be used as a recreational asset for city residents.
    ''It's not a black or white thing," said Conley. ''As things stand now, there is no practical way to use the land to benefit the City of Boston, so there is no way to fulfill the intent of the trust. In a situation like this, you look for viable alternatives."
    Conley said the golf course/hotel alternative would bring tax revenue to Burlington and Woburn without the problems associated with residential or commercial development.
    ''We're hoping for a solution that would benefit all three communities," he said.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Salt Lake City owns a lot of land outside city boundaries. it is primarily in the mountains and was purchased to protect water quality, but they also own land for a secondary airport and to preserve open space in the foothills.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I think it's fairly normal for a City to own land outside of their limits.

    As far as taxing, here anyway, any governemental agency is exempt from paying taxes on real property regardless of where it is located, providing it is for a public use.. If the City owns it and it is now sitting vacant, it would seem that they have to pay taxes as it is serving no public use.

    In Michigan, annexation laws require that annexed land has to be contigous. However, under a 425 Conditional Land Transfer (which is essentially a 'lease' for up to 50 years) that meets approval of both the city and township (or surrounding entity) the property doesn't have to be contigous.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    As far as taxing, here anyway, any governemental agency is exempt from paying taxes on real property regardless of where it is located, providing it is for a public use.. If the City owns it and it is now sitting vacant, it would seem that they have to pay taxes as it is serving no public use.
    A word of caution: vacant City-owned land outside the corporate limits can serve a significant public purpose. Think watershed protection for public water supplies, such as New York City owned lands in the eastern Southern Tier region of the state.
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    220-acre land gift presents dilemma
    Fate of parcel lies with Boston

    Hello, found this website after googling for the cummings trust and burlington. I can tell you from a few months of investigation that Massachusetts has an ammendment to the State Constitution which prevent the sale, transfer or change of use of any land that was aqcuired to be used as a public park. And that the Massachusetts Attorney General has never allowed Boston to use the Trust's fund for anything other than the intended purposes. So, the Mary P.C. Cummings Park which is referenced in that article is not going to be sold off or used for anything other than the public park as it was intended without a big political and legal fight.

    Maybe more of interest to this forum was the way the situation came to be, with the donor, Mary Cummings, donating the land to Boston because it rested on the town boundary between Burlington and Woburn and she believed that both towns were to be incorporated into the city of Boston eventually anyway.

    So, I think this is not exaclty an example of a town "owning" property outside city limits, since although they hold the deed, it is held in trust as a public park.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Previous city I worked for had land adjacent to its boundary with a much larger city. No taxes paid, but had to abide by the other City's zoning. The City I worked for planned on putting part of its water plant facilities on the site and was shot down by the neighboring City. Went through P&Z / Council, became a very political process, was shot down again and it went to court I believe. It was around that time that I moved on. Knowing the City Attorney there they probably won the right to locate the plant there. He is pretty sharp and didn't lose to many battles. He picked them wisely...

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