TUD board skeptical of land swap

Written by Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat March 27, 2013 08:44 am

A land transfer between the Tuolumne Utilities District and a private property owner stalled on Tuesday after multiple members of the district Board of Directors questioned whether the district should give up land.

During a board meeting, directors were split on a proposal that would have turned over a narrow 0.19 acre plot at the district’s Tuolumne water treatment plant to Gene Elkins who owns property to the south. In return, Elkins would have given TUD a 0.15 acre easement for better access to the Camp Roach ditch.

The proposal arose out of years of maintenance issues, where overgrown tree limbs would fall across the property line, damage fences and create a fire hazard. Elkins said his interest is merely to make sure the small area is cleared to prevent fire danger.

“I don’t want any more land,” he said on Tuesday. “Just clean it up.”

But directors John Maciel and Jim Grinnell both questioned why the district would exchange a piece of real property for a smaller easement. Maciel and Grinnell opposed the proposal, with directors Michael Sarno and Delbert Rotelli supporting it. Kent Johnson was absent.

“What are the options of taking care of this?” asked Maciel. “I don’t think it’s in the best interest of TUD customers.”

TUD administrators said the land has very little value and is more of a liability than an asset. Also, access to that part of the ditch is very limited. The agreement would not include any money, but would require approval of an easement deed and a lot line adjustment.

“It’s a pretty routine thing for us to do these kinds of things,” he said. “The value of that land is going to be very little.”

TUD General Manager Pete Kampa said he will work on the agreement to bring it back to the board.