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Board delays Ballantyne land sale

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board decided today it's not quite ready to sell 88 lots surrounding the new Ballantyne Elementary.

Tom Tate, Vilma Leake and George Dunlap asked for the delay to explore whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can require the developer who buys the land to incorporate affordable housing, which could be available to CMS employees. Homes in the booming south suburban area generally command high prices.

Mike Raible, who handles real estate for CMS, said he's not sure whether such a requirement is legal. But he told the board one of the developers interested in buying the land is the Charlotte Housing Authority.

Selling a developed subdivision is a first for CMS. The district bought about 39 acres, which had already been zoned for a 160-home subdivision, from KB Homes in 2005. CMS wanted only part of it to build a school, but the homebuilder insisted on an all-or-nothing sale, CMS officials say. The district ended up building the school, which opened in August, in the center of the tract and developing the remaining lots by grading them for construction and running water and sewer lines.

CMS had hoped to offer the lots to developers last year, but when the housing market slumped, officials decided to wait.

The market remains weak, but Associate Superintendent Guy Chamberlain said he's heard from builders interested in buying.“We're not going to sell this thing at a loss,” he said. If no good offers come in, “we'll sit tight.”

Board member Ken Gjertsen, whose district includes the Ballantyne area, urged the delay for another reason: He's not sure CMS won't need the land. He noted that parking is already running short.