STEUBEN — In Steuben, winning the lottery won’t make you rich, but it could secure you a building lot.
The town has subdivided an approximately 97-acre tract at the corner of Dyer Bay and Pinkham Bay Bridge roads into 14 lots, 12 of which will be sold through a lottery process. The idea is to offer the lots at fixed, affordable prices in hopes of attracting permanent residents.
“We’re hoping to give somebody a piece of the American dream,” said Town Clerk Julie Ginn. “It’s about creating a fair opportunity for the community to acquire a piece of land.”
The first three lots, which range in size from 2.1 to 2.8 acres, will be sold at $5,500 each to the winners of a lottery to be drawn at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Ella Lewis Elementary School. The remaining lots will be offered through a separate lottery to be held at a later date, after the access roads to those tracts have been completed.
The additional tracts to be sold include a 4.7-acre parcel for $5,500, plus eight waterfront lots. Four of these are between 1.6 and 2.5 acres in size and carry a $30,000 price tag. Three waterfront lots ranging in size from 2.9 to 3.5 acres will sell for $35,000 each and one 4.2-acre waterfront lot will be sold for $40,000.
The town will keep the two remaining tracts, making an existing boat ramp open to the public. A picnic table and grill may be added at some point but, otherwise, the land will remain as open space.
Ginn said the town acquired the land in February 2018 through a 2015 tax lien of about $75,000. Officials considered several options for the property, including holding a real estate auction to sell the entire tract, selling it via sealed bid or listing it with a real estate agent. They settled on selling the land in individual lots at affordable prices. In order to make the lots accessible, the town has built access roads at an estimated cost of about $40,000 using budget surplus funds.
The town has had a lot of interest in the lots, Ginn said.
“We’re hoping to attract full-time, year-round working families, hopefully with children,” she said. “We don’t want to see these be properties bought because they’re inexpensive and sold for somebody to make money but, on the other hand, we don’t want to stop someone from bettering themselves.”
The town considered but decided against adding deed restrictions to prevent people from flipping the land for a profit. Officials also decided that the lottery would be open to anyone, regardless of where entrants currently live.
Before any sales are made on lottery day, all entries will be drawn and ranked according to the order in which they’re pulled. Prospective buyers will be allowed to put in one entry for each of the lots to be sold but will be allowed to purchase only one. If one person is ranked first for more than one lot, that person will have to choose a lot, allowing any remaining lots to go to the person ranked second in that drawing.
There is a $50 nonrefundable fee for each entry. Entrants must be present Nov. 13 to win so they can sign paperwork including sales agreements stating payment must be made within 30 days. Should a prospective buyer fail to pay, a second chance lottery would be held.
No commercial uses will be permitted on the lots, though home-based businesses will be allowed and fishermen will be able to store and repair equipment on site.
“We’re a fishing town and if we can give a fisherman an opportunity to get to the shore, we’re going to do it,” Ginn said.
Each of the lots has been tested and is suitable for the installation of a septic system. The lots also come with a clear title.
Ginn said holding the Nov. 13 lottery will allow the town to see how the system works in preparation for the bigger lottery to be held to sell the remaining nine lots.
“This is an economic development chance for this town that we have not had,” Ginn said. “I really feel like the project is totally with it. The opportunity it will provide will totally outweigh the effort.”