The city of Pickerington has agreed to buy more than 5 acres adjacent to City Hall, which officials say will allow for future expansion of municipal facilities or possible use as park land.

Pickerington City Council voted unanimously Oct. 2 to approve the purchase of 5.59 undeveloped acres $175,000.

The land, identified by the Fairfield County Auditor's Office as 0 Raine St., is owned by Mark Edson Huntwork. It is east of City Hall, 100 Lockville Road.

According to City Manager Frank Wiseman, the sale will be finalized 30 days after council's action.

He said the city considered buying the land several times in recent years and chose to take action because it was likely to be marketed soon to private developers.

"I believe it's actually been for sale for some time," Wiseman said. "The city has considered it for possible expansion needs."

The Auditor's Office last conducted an on-site property value assessment for the land in 2013. At that time, it was valued at $55,900.

In addition to the dated value assessment, representatives from the Auditor's Real Estate Department noted their valuations differ from market appraisals, which they said typically are much higher.

Wiseman said the city recently commissioned a market appraisal for the land and it was determined to be in excess of $200,000.

"Our cost isn't a discount, but it was within the appraisal of the property we had done," he said.

The city doesn't have definitive plans for the land.

Wiseman said Pickerington officials would begin examining how to utilize it "next year," and that it could be used for the expansion of City Hall, the construction of another municipal facility or as a city park.

"Basically, it's an investment for the future," he said. "The city is growing and at some time I would think City Hall would need more space, even if it's nothing more than storage space."

City Council President Jeff Fix echoed those sentiments, saying the purchase allows the city to control how the land behind City Hall is used and it provides opportunities for building or park expansion.

"We are always looking for opportunities to make deals with landowners that we think will benefit the city in the long term," Fix said.

"We thought it was a good idea to protect that land and have it under our control."

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