By Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Source: City of Needles (Information):
Needles, California: Members of the Needles City Council failed to approve on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 a tentative parcel map for land near Lillyhill Drive and Casa Linda Street after concerns and questions over residents access and who’s the buyer.
Live Broadcast By ZachNews (Skip to 17:37 for Agenda Item #2):
The decision by members of the Needles City Council occurred during the regular meeting of the Needles City Council and Needles Public Utility Authority, which you can watch at ZachNews on Facebook.
Documents from the City of Needles say the parcel is currently owned by the City of Needles, with a small section, .79 acres, being split off and sold to Golden Valley Cable, owned by D. J. Huffman. The remaining parcel, 5.79 acres, will continue to be owned by the City. The Parcel is located near the intersection of Lilllyhill Dr. and Casa Linda Street.
The conditions of approval require the buyer to provide a minimum 20′ wide public utility easement (PUE) for public access onto the parcel.
Regarding the environment, Tentative Parcel Map 20388 is categorically exempt under State Guidelines Section 15315, “Minor Land Divisions”, and no additional analysis is required at this time.
Regarding the findings, the City Council must make the findings that the Tentative Parcel Map is consistent with the Needles General Plan, Needles Municipal Code and the State Subdivision Map Act.
The recommendation put in front of members of the Needles City Council is to approve Resolution No. 2021-41, Approving Tentative Parcel Map No. #20388 with conditions.
The City of Needles issued public notifications regarding the public hearing only in the Needles Desert Star on back on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, mailed to property owners within 300′ of the proposed parcel, and posted in two conspicuous locations within the City.
*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item #2 (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***
Before discussions began, Needles City Council Member Tona Belt and Needles City Mayor Jeff Williams recused themselves because they live within 600 feet of this property.
Needles Vice City Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. sat in place of the mayor and will only be able to vote if there’s a tie vote.
As discussions began, Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell asked how long has this been going on; this particular issue about the property?
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels replied saying the since the first of the year.
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said I think its has been 18 months since we haven’t done this, which Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “Right,” adding that as you recalled, there was an offer.
Needles Vice City Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. asked about Mrs. Ward and her situation, which Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said she was find with this.
But the daughter of Mrs. Wards, Kathryn Lockhart, came up to speak saying that she wanted to know who actually spoke to her mother about this.
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said to Kathryn Lockhart that Tim (Timothy Terral) did.
Kathryn Lockhart told members of the Needle City Council that she’s caregiving Mrs. Ward, is here representing her mother. and that two weeks ago this was the first she heard of this.
“If I asked her mother about this and Mr. Terral, I can tell you now that she would probably not remember that she ever spoke to him – so that’s what brought me here tonight. I’m just realizing this and I don’t know about all the other people but Rick and Debby they use that back road or wash area – whatever you may call that for access to their property every single day; we use it when we have large family gatherings and I’m sure that’s why most of the people living there bought that property 30 years ago. I don’t know what to say but i think one person’s taking control of that property is gonna leave us all in the birch,” said Kathryn Lockhart.
Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II then asked if you guys are saying that Tim Terral talked to them, which Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said Tim talked to Rosemary and Rick (Needles City Manager) talked to Dale.
Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II then said “Tim was – I been on this council for 3 weeks or maybe a month – I took his spot… is that a conflict; that he’s the one who talked to her?”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “Well an applicant can talk to anybody,” which in the background Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II said “but he can’t be here right?” and Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell saying afterwards “He’s not the applicant, he’s not the person who’s buying it.”
Kathryn continued to speak, asking members of the Needle City Council do they have everyone else who lives on Lillyhill Drive saying “Sure, I don’t care?”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said to Kathryn “No, no; I’m not saying that.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels then continued saying that “So there are people who take access from that back… from that… alleyway. So it would seem to me that the council – if you all choose to approve this – should add a condition for an access easement to all properties fronting that… that there will be an easement filed to ensure that everyone using it can continue to use it.”
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said afterwards to Kathryn that nobody is going to close that off, you’ll still have access.
Kathryn then said that “the access is just part of it, the confusion is we don’t know what is planned, what was said; I don’t known when the letter was sent. Just hearing abut this was a little disconcerting.”
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said to Kathryn that “I can absolutely appreciate your consistent; but I do know that it started 18 months ago and then so its been going on and then there were some things going back and forth,” which Kathryn said “I just hearing about it.”
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt then asked Kathryn if she was against this, which Kathryn said “Yes, because I don’t know enough. It was brought up two weeks ago, and then tabled until tonight, but then you know, he (Rick) said it was going to be sold, its like…”
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt asked Kathryn to state her case on why you’re against this, which she said because of losing access, not sure what they’re going to do with the property after it was sold, and would that bring down our property value if somebody wanted to buy the house that they have no access to back there; everyone has a gate there to enter and exit from, and fire and police department access in case of an emergency.
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt asked so currently, people get into their back yards from that area?
Kathryn said “Yes, access from Case Linda from the front house on the corner – on the west side of the corner on Case Linda and Lillyhill – when you make a right onto Case Linda right behind the first house.”
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell then asked Kathryn “Are you not against it if you’re guarantee access?”
Kathryn said “No, if were guarantee access – I can go ahead and say okay.”
Public comments came next, and former member of the Needles City Council Shawn Gudmundson spoke on this matter.
Shawn Gudmundson said that This has come before me when i was on the council a year ago – 14 months ago – the only issue i have with the whole thing was what she discussed was the access back there. But the big issue is, at that time, councilor Terral had to excuse himself because he had a conflict of interest. Now – that goes for one year because I got notified about this by public officials – he’s out talking to individuals and that may hurt regarding a the proposal for this. For a year you have a Conflict of Interest, and it looks dirty on the city’s part. I hate to say it, but it looks dirty.”
After public comments, Needles Vice City Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. then returned the matter for further discussions and Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said that he would like to modify the recommendation that a 25-foot access easement be granted across the back of all those properties that have access to that site.
Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II asked if this 25-foot easement be with no fencing or gate for those who have access to this from their back yards.
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “an unobstructed easement” which Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II said “that would be fair.”
Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II then asked how about a first right of refusal?
Needles City Attorney John Pinkney said “So normally when you sell property you sell it, and then the buyer has the right to do with it whatever they were going to do with it. If there was a pacific use that the buyer was commented to and they were agreeing – like if they promises to use it for a pacific use in a certain period of time – you can have an inversion interest, or if they sold it that they would first offer it to the city to buy it back. But you know normally when you sold real estate – you sell it and then the buyer owns it, and they can do whatever they want with it.”
Needles City Council Donald Wade Evans II then said “I believe is first write a refusal… like Shawn said it’s gonna get a little dirty if Golden Valley Cable – which I didn’t know it exist anymore because it’s Route 66 (Broadband) – they buy it and sell it to ex councilmember Terral, it’s getting a little shady. So if we can first write a refusal, then they have to offer the City if the ever sell it, or keep it in that name for any amount of years?”
Needles City Attorney John Pinkney said “You could, you could have it for a certain amount of years that if it’s sold or transferred, that the City will have the right to buy it back, and then you would then negotiate what that purchase price would be; will it be fair market value at the time of the City’s purchases or will be based on an appraisal or will it be the price of the City sold it for.”
But then Needles City Attorney John Pinkney reminded members of the Needles City Council that, “The item that’s before you tonight is really the public hearing notice to consider of approving a Tentative Parcel Map; subdividing a 6.5 acres into two partials; and if you look at the staff report that’s the item that’s before you, and the staff report indicates there’s going to be two partials; Partial 1 is going to be .79 acres and the remaining partial is going to be 5.79 acres. And so this is all owned now by the City, and you’re approving… you entered into an agreement with Golden Valley Cable in the past; Partial 1 will be purchased by Golden Valley Cable and then partial 2 will remain with the City. So it is contemplated in the resolution, although the item that’s before you is technically the partial map; does the City want to divide out the 6.5 acres.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels then spoke afterwards, saying that the purchaser is… the council already approved… is Golden Valley Cable owned by Daniel J. Hoffman.
But Needles Vice City Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. said “That not true anymore,” but then asked if that wasn’t true anymore?
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “Well there is still Golden Valley Cable,” but Needles Vice City Mayor Edward T. Paget M.D. then said “but Mr. Huffman is not in it anymore.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels responded saying “its different than… the wireless company,” which Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said “It’s Route 66 Broadband. It,s two companies.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels continued saying, “but… you know maybe an extension without a difference.”
A quick search online finds Daniel J. Hoffman is the President at Golden Valley Cable and Communications well Route 66 Broadband is owned by Timothy Terral.
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt said we are voting to partial up the land, and there’s already an agreement with Golden Valley Cable set forth, which Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell nodded ‘Yes.”
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt then asked “Was that voted on and passed?”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “Yes,” with Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell adding “Just before we got here.”
Needles City Council Kirsten Merritt then asked if we don’t move this forward, would that mean the agreement will just go away and where will it stand?
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said “It would be purchase of sale agreement that’s not… you can’t effectuate it.”
Afterwards, Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell made the motion to approve with the modifications of the access easement, but Needles City Manager Rick Daniels then clarified, saying “Unobstructed easement 25 feet long.”
Needles City Council Zachery Longacre seconded Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell’s motion with the modifications, but then Needles City Manager Rick Daniels asked if the maker of the motion and the second want to include right of first refusal if its sold?
Needles City Council Zachery Longacre said sure, but Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said “Here’s my question before I answer that question, because it has been 18 months that this has been going on and going on is… haven’t that already been exhausted? I mean we did write first a refusal on the other properties we have sold,” which Needles City Manager Rick Daniels responded “We have done that.”
Needles City Manager Rick Daniels then asked Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell “are will to add the first write a refusal?”
Needles City Council Ellen A. Campbell said “I’m willing to add the first write a refusal.”
With the motion now saying to approve with the modifications of unobstructed easement 25 feet long and to add the first write a refusal, members of the Needles City Council voted on the agenda item, and the voting results as 3-1, which Needles City Attorney John Pinkney said it’s a resolution, the motion fails.
Daniel J. Hoffman and Timothy Terral were not present during the meeting, and at this moment there hasn’t been a response publicly to the decision by members of the Needles City Council.
For more information, please contact Dale Jones, City Clerk at the City of Needles at: 1 (760) 326-2113.