A controversial land sale in Washington County has taken place, despite one missed payment date, says the Utah Division of State Lands and Forestry.
The state land involved is a 2,400-acre tract near the city of Washington, being purchased by Rocky Mountain Ventures, a southern Utah land development company, for $1.1 million. The sale was controversial because of disputes over the appraisal price and the possible presence of desert tortoises, an endangered reptile.In May, the legislative auditor general's office told lawmakers that the sale was "controversial and complicated" and said the state should do a better job in selling land that is held in trust for Utah schools.
Dick Mitchell, the newly appointed director of the division, told the Deseret News Monday that Rocky Mountain Ventures missed a deadline for an initial payment.
At that point, "individuals in our office here and also in the Legislature" felt that if there was any way to undo the sale, it should be rescinded, he said. They believed missing the payment date could be a way to do that.
But the Utah attorney general's office said that under the contract, the purchaser had 30 days to cure the default, by paying the amount plus a late charge.
"They have now made the payment," Mitchell said.
Rocky Mountain Ventures paid $455,255, the total initial amount due plus late charges "to mitigate any loss to the (state school) trust fund as a consequence of the delay in payment," said Dotti Brockbank, spokeswoman for the division.