The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to introduce an ordinance to transfer a 1.4-acre piece of land that houses a wastewater pretreatment plant to Unilever Manufacturing after it was discovered that the land wasn’t correctly transferred to the company in 2001.
In 1998, the city and Unilever, which recently closed its ice cream plant on Frederick Street, made an agreement to jointly build a wastewater pretreatment plant to serve the former plant, city Utilities Director Michael Spiker told the five-member council during a work session.
The agreement was for a 10-year lease with an option to sell the plant — that originally cost about $850,000 to construct — to Unilever, Spiker said.
The company exercised the option in 2001, and the mayor and city council approved the transfer of the property, but something went awry, Spiker said.
Spiker said Unilever failed to have the deed recorded correctly, and city wastewater staff met with the company to discuss what to do next.
“We realized that the property was still in the name of the city of Hagerstown,” he told the council.
Spiker then spoke with city attorneys and decided that they should move forward with transferring the property as originally agreed upon.
Spiker met with Unilever on July 18 to work out payment for back taxes and costs for time spent by city staff and legal counsel, which amounted to a $13,500 check that the city recently received, he said.
Councilman Martin Brubaker said during discussions that the land transfer was a good step toward making sure the property has a clean title for its next potential owner.
Unilever officials also have contacted Washington County about paying off back taxes as well, Spiker said.
— C.J. Lovelace