A MN city is offering free land – but nobody is taking it, which is costing taxpayers


A small southeastern Minnesota city is giving away free land, worth tens of thousands of dollars. It has been for a few years, actually.

But nobody's biting.

The city of Claremont is giving away 14 residential lots to people willing to build on them through its Residential Lot Development Program. But because no one has taken them up on the offer, it's actually costing the city – and the taxpayers – $40,000 a year, FOX 47 reports.

The Dodge County city, which has a population around 600 people, took ownership of the land in 2012 after a developer went bankrupt, so it decided to offer free residential lots as a way to get new people to move to the city, FOX 47 says.

"We're trying to get people into town to build homes, get the tax base up and increase water and sewer revenue," Claremont City Clerk and Treasurer Elizabeth Sorg told West Concord News. "We want to help the community grow. People will come and businesses will come."

Sorg told FOX 47 she thinks people assume the offer is too good to be true, or they simply haven't heard of it.

But the deal is a real thing.

The city is waiving the purchasing price of the land ($28,637) for qualified buyers (a family of two must make under $74,000 a year), and only an administrative fee of $1,000 is charged if a home that meets the city's minimum requirements is built within one year, the News Enterprise reported.

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Other Minnesota cities have offered incentives to draw new residents. Earlier this year, the city of Harmony began offering cash rebates up to $12,000 to build a new home. Last year, the city of Stewartville offered a similar rebate incentive.

Watertown in Carver County approved a residential permit incentive program in June to combat "sluggish new home starts." The city offered to waive certain utility fees – a value of $9,500.

Based on previous attempts, it's not necessarily a surprise Claremont's free land offer isn't as successful as the city hoped. Incentive programs have gotten mixed results over the years, with experts saying instead of attracting new residents, many programs are often utilized by people who already live in the town, the Star Tribune reported.

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