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Howd this land go from $3,500 to $23,000?

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Developer requested appraisal district increase value

The Ellis County Press

GLENN HEIGHTS – A vacant lot with no street access tucked behind mobile homes that was worth $3,500 a year ago is now worth $23,000, according to a letter from the developer who asked the Ellis Central Appraisal District to increase the property value.

The lot that Kelly Chance’s mom owned before she died lies squarely inside the Glenn Heights city limits, according to Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Brown.

However, the lot is tucked in a "doughnut" hole of properties called Lindale Estates that are mixed with vacant mobile homes, no street access in some parts and, Chance said, "meth labs" and "crack houses."

Chance, who lives in Midlothian and asked developer Lee Schmitt to purchase her mom’s property with the new appraisal, said she couldn’t get him to give "$500 for it."

"There’s no way I could get $17,000 for that land," she said.

ECAD chief appraiser Kathy Rodrique said statutes allow for developers to request inventory valuations on lots, but Chance said she’s never heard of a developer requesting such a thing as her situation entails.

Rodrique, whose office is under the Texas Comptroller’s authority, submitted a letter dated January 24 of this year in response to the developer stating her office would "estimate the values accordingly." When ECAD’s appraised value records came out soon thereafter, Chance noticed the increase.

Schmitt’s original request sought to have the lots appraised to "more closely reflect" their actual value. During a driving tour of Lindale Estates with Chance, phone calls to Schmitt were not returned.

Noting that two phases of the Lindale Estates area of Glenn Heights have full utilities – with Chance’s property being in the phase without paved street access – Schmitt’s letter said "I believe that somewhere around $23,000 per lot would be reasonable given surrounding comps [sic] and sales."

Schmitt said he ran "the engineering numbers and the cost" to have the streets in Phase 2, which totaled $3,000 to $4,000, ironically, Chance said, the very figures that a local real estate agent offered for the property a year ago.

Loop 9 speculation?

With lots in neighboring Red Oak’s Harmony development fetching $167,000 to $171,000 each, Chance said there’s "no way" the Lindale Estates could be worth the $23,000, unless, of course, if there were plans to build a major highway loop in the area.

According to maps, public hearings and governmental records, the proposed Loop 9 corridor is planned for the area stretching from Ferris to Midlothian, picking up planned exit ramps in Glenn Heights, Ovilla and Cedar Hill.

Now faced with a tax bill that went from $50 to $100 per year to more than $1,000 on a lot that is sitting idle in a field of weeds, grass and abandoned mobile homes, Chance said she would just rather sell the lot for $6,000 and move on.

"I can’t even get $500 for it, and it’s already tough enough with my mom dying to have to go through all these hoops," she said.

One thing Chance said she is certain on, though, is the value of that lot not being worth $23,000.


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