TIPTON — The mayor of Tipton last year purchased land in the same area he’s currently seeking voluntary annexation and is actively trying to court developers for new housing, public documents show.
Mayor Tom Dolezal purchased a total of 51.77 acres of farmland located just west of city limits and just south of Indiana 28 and the Leininger Acres subdivision on Jan. 23, 2020, shortly after he was sworn in, according to the documents.
The sales disclosure forms list a limited liability company — WSI 713 LLC — as the purchaser of the 51.77 acres from Steven Foor, of Elwood. The parcel would be split the next day into two separate parcels, with the northern parcel totaling 28.43 acres and the southern parcel totaling 23.34 acres.
According to property records and the sales disclosure form, the LLC bought outright the southern 23.34 acres for $250,000. It also entered into a six-year land contract with Foor for the northern parcel at a price of $200,000, according to the sales disclosure form and a “memorandum contract for conditional sale” filed on Jan. 23, 2020.
A land contract is similar to a mortgage, but instead of paying a bank, the buyer pays the seller until the purchase price is paid off. As a result of the purchases, WSI 713 LLC is the current owner of the southern parcel, while Foor is still technically the owner of the northern parcel, according to county property records.
The name Matt Folz — an associate attorney at Peru-based Dobbs Legal Group, who concentrates in estate and wealth transfer planning and business succession planning — is the person signing all of the documents for WSI 713, according to the documents. He’s listed as its manager.
Mortgage documents for the southern parcel show that Dolezal and his wife are the purchasers. The document, filed on May 2020 in the county recorder’s office, lists WSI 713 LLC’s address as the couple’s home address and as the mortgagor, with Dolezal and his wife’s name listed after every reference of the LLC. Dolezal’s signature is also present at the end of the mortgage, where he signs as manager of the LLC.
Dolezal confirmed to the Tribune in a text message earlier last week that he is the owner.
A little more than a year after the purchase, Dolezal made it publicly known that he wanted to complete a voluntary annexation of two adjacent properties, with the hope that new housing and city utilities would be developed on the land currently owned by Danny Dean Farms and Mitchell and Susan Sloan, located just west of the Tipton Municipal Golf Course.
While no development is set in stone, Dolezal told the county commissioners this past April that he was in talks with two housing developers who have expressed interest in buying the Dean and Sloan properties. Dolezal has also repeatedly expressed his desire for the city to expand westward along Indiana 28 toward U.S. 31.
“If you have anyone looking for homes, you know how tight the supply is right now,” Dolezal said in April. “We’ve talked about it for a number of years trying to grow homes in the community, and I think now is the opportunity.”
While it’s still unknown if the city of Tipton will ever successfully expand westward or if new housing will ever be built on the farmland south of Indiana 28, if it did, the mayor could stand to benefit through the 51.77 acres becoming possibly more valuable if it, or the land surrounding it, is sought after for housing or other development.
A message left last week for Dolezal seeking comment and reasoning behind his purchases was not returned. Though he did reply to a subsequent text message sent last week confirming his ownership, he did not respond to any further questions asked by the Tribune.
The mayor’s voluntary annexation proposal includes a handful of residential properties located just west of the new county jail on Indiana 28 and two parcels of farmland just west of the city-owned golf course.
Also included in the annexation request is the 28-acre southwest portion of the golf course that’s owned by the city but not actually in the city limits, the 40 acres that make up the back nine of the golf course and the Boy Scout’s woods that the city is currently leasing from the county and the 60 acres the city and county bought to expand the city’s business park.
Dolezal said the owners of the six private properties have agreed to be voluntarily annexed into the city under certain conditions, which will make the process much cheaper and quicker than forced annexation.
The county commissioners have agreed to sign off on annexation of the 60 acres near the business park, but have not agreed to voluntary annexing the 40-acre parcel that includes the back nine.