Although the Elk Grove City Council had nothing to report out of its closed session at last night's meeting, there was criticism leveled at how one request for a real property negotiation was handled.
The negotiations were on the council's closed session portion of the meeting and involved a surplus parcel owned by the city located near Sheldon Road and Highway 99 and adjacent to the park and ride lot. The negotiations were requested by representatives of local developer Gil Moore who is seeking to develop a combination fast food outlet and gas station on a nearby parcel located on the northeast corner of Sheldon Road and E. Stockton Blvd.
Because that parcel is not directly adjacent to the freeway, current city ordinance forbids any offsite billboard along the highway that Moore has said is crucial to the outlet's success. It was not revealed how Moore's representative became aware of the surplus property or that the city was actively seeking buyers for the property.
Prior to the council going into closed session, it was revealed the item was placed on the closed session agenda by City Attorney Jonathon Hobbs with reportedly no prior knowledge by council members. The vague description of the parcel that Moore is interested in was provided by the city's legal staff.
Hobbs said the vague description was used because there is no parcel number currently assigned to the parcel. Although the parcel had a legal description on the agenda, there was no mention given to the parcels proximity to familiar nearby landmarks or intersections.
Interestingly, attorney Matthew Keasling representing developer Angelo Tsakopoulos was at the meeting and said his client might be interested in purchasing the property but was not aware the city was selling the parcel. Tsakopoulos owns a parcel that is directly adjacent to Highway 99 on Sheldon Road and by right can erect a billboard adjacent to the highway.
Prior to going into closed session, Elk Grove resident Kathy Lee criticized the city council for the manner in which the matter has been handled. Reading from a prepared statement, Lee stressed this was not about Moore's pursuit of an ordinance change to allow offsite signs per se, rather the way in which the matter was placed on the agenda and the vague description of the parcel.
"If this staff member, who placed this item on the agenda, did so with a clear and honest intent, then why in the world did this staff member intentionally use a property description that conceals and masks the property location," Lee asked. "I’ve spent the better part of a day trying to determine from the aforementioned description, the location of the land in question. I have gone so far as to contact the Sacramento Recorders Office. I was told I would have to come down to their office to manually search the records due to the fact the map book in question is from 1915."
Lee asserted that the parcel's general location could have been easily identified and there was a purposeful intent to mislead the public.
"It is my belief, that this was an intentional attempt to disguise and keep secret, the piece of land in question," Lee said. "In my opinion, someone on staff is bending over backwards in order to accommodate one individual."
During the regular council meeting's public comment portion, Elk Grove resident Nikki Carpenter agreed this matter should be dealt with in an open manner.
"These back door agreements and things that keep happening do not bode well for this city," she added.