Lingering concerns about the propriety of Nassau County School Board land acquisition practices didn’t derail plans to move ahead with buying land next to an anticipated new school in Nassauville. The vote was 3-1, with one Board member absent, to go along with the offer without appraisals yet in hand.
“The appraisal that’s required has been ordered, or requested — they just haven’t been able to, I guess, get it performed before now,” Board attorney Brett Steger said at the latest Board meeting in Hilliard. “That’s why the property appraiser’s report is attached.”
The Nassauville land offer is two acres adjacent to more than 12 acres the School District received from the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners in a land swap to facilitate a roadway. Negotiations on the property — located on Osborne Trail near Amelia Concourse — ended with a closing price of $115,000, pending appraisal. District staff recommended the Board use $115,000 in impact fee revenue to purchase the land.
Board member Cindy Grooms, who had concerns about due diligence on the last land deal pursued by the Board, emphasized that the process should be above reproach.
“We already just went through this whole previous land issue, and I feel like for transparency, and for us to make a decision on making an offer about something, we’ve got to see what the appraisals look like,” Grooms said. “I would like us to consider postponing this until we have a chance to review the appraisals.”
Board member Gail Cook asked if the Board had a limited time to act — Steger said the property is currently listed, and there are other interested parties. He didn’t know the status of those other inquiries into the property. When the appraisal comes in, the Board has the option to remove the offer, Martin said.
“If the appraisals come in, and the appraisals are lower than what the offer is, it would take a supermajority from this Board in order to enter into that contract,” Steger said.
Board member Jamie Deonas was absent from the meeting — Grooms voted against the motion, with Martin, Cook and Board member Lissa Braddock voting for it.
“Even though we’re looking at comparables, on the last land deal that we had, there were three different appraisals with three different comparables,” Grooms said. “I am really not going to base my decision on that — I prefer to see the appraisal myself.”