Beaufort County School District asked to clean up disputed land

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Beaufort County School District asked to clean up disputed land

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Friday, February 3, 2012   |  616 Words  |  

Two Lady's Island women had a message for the Beaufort County School District at a recent board meeting: Clean up your land.

Terri Allgire and Trudy Arthur spoke to the Board of Education on Jan. 17 about property on Alston Road, near their homes. They say the land is a litter-strewn eyesore.

Three mobile homes are on the land, which totals about three acres over two tracts. Only one of the homes is occupied. All three are there without the district's consent and generate no rental income.

But Phyllis White, the district's operational services chief, says there is little the district can do since it doesn't have clear title to the property. When the land was donated to the district in the 1930s, one deed's legal description was poorly written. The other deed is missing.

Because of the confusion, White said, any attempt to remove the homes could be challenged in court. She said the district is consulting with attorneys to find a way to resolve the issue.

White also said the district isn't likely to need the land in the future.

It was identified as a underutilized property in 2007. That's when the school board decided to raise money by selling many of the smaller parcels it has amassed. The Alston Road property isn't for sale because of the issues with the titles.

OTHER PARCELS FOR SALE

The district is currently offering 10 pieces of property for sale, however. Most is in northern Beaufort County, and almost all was acquired before the 1940s.

Except for 19.5 acres off Cherokee Farms Road, all of the land is in parcels smaller than four acres.

Although much of it has been on the market for more than four years, the district sold the first parcel only this week -- a 1.26-acre tract on St. Helena Island.

That land brought about $15,000, White said. That money will go into the district's capital fund, where it could be used for school improvements or new technology in the classroom, among other things.

Although the district is unlikely to raise much from land sales, every bit helps, according to White.

"We can't disregard the money we get," she said. "But is it going to balance the budget? No."

Much of the land is in out-of-the-way places, White said.

"Some of it is under power lines or out in the middle of Dale, and you're wondering 'How did we get that?' " she said.

There aren't signs advertising the sale, White said. The district hasn't actively marketed many such properties or enlisted the help of a real estate agent. Some are listed for sale on the district's website, however.

Holding onto the land doesn't cost the district much, White said, since it doesn't pay property taxes on unimproved land. There are no upkeep expenses, either, she said.

As for the property on Alston Road, White said the district is committed to cleaning it up and addressing Allgire's and Arthur's concerns.

"I think that now that we know, we want to bring this issue to resolution," White said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content

  • Click "Properties For Sale" on the menu on the left side of the Beaufort County School District website to view some of the land for sale