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December 3, 2013

Commissioners continue to discuss property purchase

DUNCAN — Stephens County commissioners have not reached a decision on whether to purchase the Courthouse Plaza property north of the Stephens County Courthouse. But at least one Courthouse Plaza tenant expressed her concerns if the commissioners do decide to make the purchase.

Attorney Jan Gaddis discussed the property with the Board of Stephens County Commissioners during Monday’s regular meeting. Gaddis said she was concerned if the commissioners approved purchasing the property, the long-time tenants would have to see new office space because the county wouldn’t be allowed to make a profit from the leases in the building.

“We have made lease hold improvements,” Gaddis said. “I’m a junior tenant there. I’ve been there less than anyone, and I’ve been there 20 years.”

Dee Bowen, District 3 commissioner and board chairman, led the commissioners’ side of the discussion. Bowen said the property owner, Lynn Davenport approached the county about purchasing the property because of his desire to get out of real estate. Bowen said there is no intention of evicting leasees of the Courthouse Plaza offices.

Bowen said there have been discussions in the past four to five years about purchasing more property around the courthouse because of the need for parking. The Courthouse Plaza isn’t the only property being looked at for purchase. He said the commissioners are in the early stages of discussing purchasing more property.

“We’re looking for more parking for the courthouse,” Bowen said. “Parking is a big issue, especially during jury term.”

Gaddis talked about several properties for sale in the area of the courthouse. Some neighbor the courthouse property, while others are about a block away.

The commissioners did express concern about people having to walk a block to get to the courthouse. They said the distance might be too far, and people might look for ways to park closer, even if it meant parking in a lot not owned by the courthouse.

“I know during jury terms, things can get congested,” Gaddis said. “But we only have four jury terms a year. I think you need to look at other properties. We’ve been there a long time. That dislocation is very expensive. I understand your needs.”

The commissioners did not take action on the item. The board will revisit purchasing properties at a later date.

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