Council rejects high bid for property on Saginaw Street

BURTON — In a departure from its usual policy for selling vacant, tax reverted properties, the city denied the sale of a parcel at 3380 Saginaw St. to the highest bidder after public support for the low bidder and the project he was proposing.

The council rejected all bids on the sale of the property after James Binkley, owner of Bink’s Trapper Joe’s, 3386 Saginaw St., made a brief presentation on the addition to his business he’s proposing for the neighboring lot.

Binkley and several supporters spoke at the Aug. 19 city council meeting, urging the council to reject the high bid of $12,500 for the vacant property next door to Trapper Joe’s and instead go with his bid, for $4,500, so he could build a pavilion and green space area for the community.

Binkley’s plan would call for a pavilion equipped with a full bar and kitchen, an entertainment area with horseshoe pits and corn hole tournaments.

“I’d like to try to make this a place better for the neighborhood,” said Binkley. “Create a park-like atmosphere with picnic tables in my grass area. If someone wanted to bring a lunch or picnic, they could can have it on my grounds.”

His plan would let him keep the property so he could tear down the existing building, which is in a state of total disrepair.

While the motion to reject all bids on the property passed, not everyone on the city council was in support of the move.

“We will have deviated immensely from the process we’ve always done for this,” said Councilman Dennis O’Keefe. “Mr. (Christopher) Tucker’s bid was $12,500 and the other bid (Binkley’s) was $4,500 – the minimum bid was $10,000, so that wasn’t even the minimum bid. I’m not going by personalities, that was not a qualified bid. This has nothing to do with who’s buying it, this is about the bid process and we have to follow that.”

Greg Fenner, a member of the Burton Downtown Development Authority and candidate for Burton mayor, said Binkley had given his presentation to the DDA board and he was in support of the plan.

“What Bink is proposing fits in the DDA’s visioning plan,” he said. “There would be an attractive green space to attract people to our town.”

Fenner also said the building is in need of a lot of work and in his opinion, nothing less than a complete tear down would be sufficient because of fears Tucker’s plan might mean the building sits vacant for a couple more years while work is done to bring the structure back up to code.

The vote to reject all bids on the property passed, with O’Keefe and Council President Steve Heffner voting against it.

Tucker did not address the council at the meeting.

It is unclear if the city will consider sale of the property to Binkley at another date.

All other property sales were awarded to the highest bidders at the Aug. 19 meeting.