Johnstown village council held a special meeting Sept. 27, voting to spend up to $55,000 to buy approximately 8 acres of property.

Johnstown village council held a special meeting Sept. 27, voting to spend up to $55,000 to buy approximately 8 acres of property.

But when the village turned out to be the sole bidder for the land, the cost was only about half that amount.

The land, located between the Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility, 470 W. Jersey St., and Licking Rural Electric, was auctioned on Sept. 30.

Village manager Jim Lenner said the village plans to use the land either for future expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Facility or for parks and open space.

The land is safe for park use even though it sits between the sewer plant and a substation, he said.

“Raccoon Creek is right there, so you couldn’t get to the sewer plant, which is fenced off, from the property unless you cross the creek,” Lenner said.

“It’s 8 acres,” council member Sean Staneart said, adding that would leave room for a “buffer” between the two properties.

Lenner said an auditor put the property’s value at around $223,500. The village obtained the land through the sheriff’s sale for only $27, 412, which Lenner said was a “steal.”

Both Staneart and Lenner said it would be hard for someone to buy the land for residential use.

“It’s kind of a terrain that’s gently sloped. So it’s not flat, easy to build on,” Lenner said.

Even if a resident were to build a house on the property, he said, it’s still “right behind the substation and you hear that constant ‘buzz’ of the substation.”

“It depends on what the use is,” Staneart said. “If a homeowner was going to go in they might be able to get one house on that lot, but then do they want to live in between a substation and a sewer plant? Maybe not, so for desirability maybe the best use would be for what we are intending.”

Pataskala Sixteen LLC bought the property in 2004. The land ended up in foreclosure because the company couldn’t come up with $27,412 by the auction date.

Lenner said the village was able to pay for the property because of extra money budgeted from this summer’s streetscape project.

The Ohio Department of Transportation picked up the bill for decorative streetlights — something the village thought it would have to pay for.

The rest of the $15,000 would come from the sewer enterprise fund.

Lenner said village financial director Larry Heiser told him now is a good time to buy land.

“Communities are turning to buy property because in 4 to 5 years they are at least going to make their money back and maybe turn 5 or 6 percent on,” he said.

Lenner did not say when construction would start on either the new park or expansion for the wastewater treatment facility.