A mix-up over land that was deeded by error to the town 19 years ago recently resurfaced after a man discovered what he thought to be part of his residential lot is listed as Zebulon property.
The discovery means Wayne Bouren, whose Parkside Place property in the Whitley Manor subdivision abuts the northwest corner of Whitley Park, has a detached garage sitting on land he doesn’t own. He is now trying to gain possession of the 1,190-square-foot space he assumed came with the lot that real estate records show he purchased in 1998.
“(Bouren) found (the oversight),” Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin said. “He was going back through some information and came upon it several months ago. We’ve had our attorneys research it and the conclusion they came up with was a mistake was made and (the land) belongs to the town at this point.”
Bouren declined to comment on the matter.
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The jumble began with a quitclaim deed signed by Nancy Estes on behalf of Nellie Whitley on Nov. 10, 1993.
The deed referenced a Wake County Register of Deeds map that clearly shows the owners intended to sell a 4,470-square-foot area that now serves as the driveway along northernmost portion of Whitley Park (to the right of the large picnic shelter) to the town for $1. The map also distinguishes that area from the 1,190-square-foot tract attached to the west, which was intended to be included as part of the lot Bouren owns.
Instead, both areas were deeded to the town as a single, 5,660-square-foot wedge.
Reassigning the land to its intended lot is complicated by state regulations. Town Attorney Eric Vernon said Zebulon cannot simply give the land to Bouren at no cost because it belongs to the town, which means it belongs to the public.
“Once property is owned by the town, it cannot convey it unless it is deemed to be surplus (property), and then it has to be conveyed at a fair price,” Vernon said. “It’s not ideal for (Bouren); it’s not ideal for the town.
“It would’ve been great to say, ‘Yeah, that was a mistake,’ but that’s not how conveying real property works from a municipality.”
Like it has recently with other surplus properties, town chose the option of putting the land up for sale through an upset bid process – one that does not guarantee Bouren the property.
Once town leaders accept an initial bid, a 10-day period in which any person can raise the bid begins. The process continues until no more upset bids are received, at which time the town has the authority to formally accept or reject the highest bid.
“We don’t expect upset bids, but you never know,” Vernon said.
Bouren on Friday entered a bid of $562, an amount proportional to the $2,600 assessed value of the entire 5,600-square-foot area. Commissioners were expected to decide if they wanted to accept or reject that opening bid at a meeting on Monday.