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Town of Beloit board votes to take bids for new real estate agent for subdivision

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 2, 2007
— The town of Beloit wants to sell six lots a year in the Heron Bay subdivision it owns along the Rock River.

That’s a pretty big change from the one-per-year pace since the 24 lots went up for sale in 2004.


The town board voted Monday to start taking bids for a new realtor contract for the 20-acre property located between the river and Walters Road a half-mile south of Townline Road.


Century 21 Affiliated is currently representing the town in selling the properties in the once-hotly contested subdivision. The town is not displeased with Century 21’s work, said town Chairman Greg Groves, who owns one of the two homes in the subdivision.


He blames the market for the slow sales.


“The housing and land market is slow all over,” Groves said. “It’s very possible we could renew the contract. Nothing’s going real fast (in the real estate market.)”


The housing market in Rock County is better than in the rest of the nation and the rest of the state, said Marquette University economist David Clark, who does consulting work for the Wisconsin Realtors’ Association.


Existing home sales are off about 7.2 percent in Wisconsin, Clark said. In Rock County, they are down about 4.9 percent from this time last year, he said.


A soft existing home market tends to make an even softer new home market, he said.


“Developers really do tend to bear the brunt of the slowdowns,” Clark said. “It’s not just a property changing hands. They have to go out and build a home and sell it. It’s expensive to carry a mortgage if you’re a builder or developer.”


The Heron Bay subdivision is unique in Rock County, said Century 21 realtor Dan Kruse.


“Heron Bay is unique because of its river-view lots,” Kruse said. “The product is different.”


Lots prices in Heron Bay range from $34,000 for an 18,950-square-foot lot to $145,000 for a 74,000-square-foot lot with river and natural area frontage.


Five of the lots have Rock River frontage, and four of those are subject to a 300-foot easement. Five of the lots front the Rock River Prairie, a state-protected natural area.


The controversy over Heron Bay began in 1990 when a group of 500 residents asked the town to deny a development plan on the 55-acre property. The town did, and it sold 35 acres to the DNR for the Rock River Prairie in 1995.


But in 1999 the town turned to development again. Some local environmental groups protested, saying the proposed development would destroy the natural oak savanna along the river. Two town residents and the Green-Rock Audubon Society sued the town.


The case went all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 the development was in the public interest.


The easements along the riverfront properties were a concession the town made during the legal fight. The town also reduced the number of lots from 36 to 24.


Realtor proposals are due at the Beloit Town Hall by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17. The town expects the Realtor to list the 21 remaining lots by Dec. 1, and report monthly on the sale of the lots.



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