Last week Councilman Tom Vedbraaten, during a meeting of the Crookston City Council, said it seems like Crookston is making it difficult for businesses by stretching out their process with the City regarding APG Development.  City Attorney Corky Reynolds explained that there is a state statute regarding the planning commission making a land use determination before there is any disposition of property.  On Tuesday, the planning commission determined the land use should remain R3, zoned for multi-family zoning.  

Planning Commission member Shirley Iverson shared with the commission she thought Vedbraaten’s comments were disappointing and creating headlines in the paper isn’t the way to communicate between the planning commission and council.  City Administrator Shannon Stassen said the City of Crookston has had a comprehensive plan in place since the 1980s but were just made aware of the statute, adding once they become aware of a statute they must comply with it.  “There is a process to things,” said Stassen.  “That particular part wasn’t brought to us.   It isn’t a city project but be that as it may I think all the boxes are checked now.  Just a point, it isn’t because we had a new comprehensive plan in 2016, we always had a comprehensive plan.  We had from the 80s, and we updated it so this particular state statute would’ve applied in the past we just weren’t aware of it.  Once you become aware of it, you have to comply, and that’s what we’re doing.  So tonight were pretty straightforward.  An R3 that is going to stay an R3, and an R2 that is going to stay an R2.  That is one of the roles of the planning commission is to make sure, that as any land transactions take place, that the future use of that land is going to comply with what the comprehensive plan has laid out for us.  It’s an important step.  Sometimes it seems pretty routine, but it is an important step.”

The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority Board on Tuesday morning recommended a business subsidy to the City Council, and they will address both the land use determination and the business subsidy Monday night.  Elliot Steinbrink said having to come back to the planning commission will keep APG from beginning their development this fall.  “Absolutely not,” said Steinbrink.  “It’s 90 degrees today, but it won’t be next week.  The goal for it would be for it to be rentable before the school year of 2021 if we start in the spring.”

The commission also determined the land use for an unbuildable parcel #82.01372.00 to remain R2 residential.  Stassen said the property would likely be put out for bid after it’s addressed during Monday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting.  “We do have a Ways & Means coming up, and we’ll probably double-check with the council,” said Stassen.  “That’s the cleanest way.  It’s hard to determine the value of that when it’s not a buildable lot.  The easiest way is to go to bids.  That’s a requirement by law that there has to be a way to establish that value.  And it isn’t just up to me or Angel [Weasner, City of Crookston Finance Director] or somebody else to say – we think it’s worth this.  Put it up for fair bids and see what happens.  Adjacent landowners are the most likely because it’s not buildable and becomes a liability in terms of maintenance, taxes, and everything else if you don’t live next to it.  We’ll see what happens, but that will be our recommendation, to put it out for bids.”

Planning Commission member Travis Oliver also asked about the previously discussed property at 110 Lincoln and whether that would be something the City of Crookston would be interested in having the Construction Trades class Oliver teaches at Crookston High School build on in the future.  Oliver said that with the number of available lots dwindling in town, he is uncertain where they would build next year. Oliver also said they could maybe look at doing some house rehab projects as well.  Stassen said the City of Crookston would be interested in having construction trades build some in-fill housing on lots becuase selling those lots for homes is what creates the highest tax value.  Councilman Dale Stainbrook also told Oliver that council members had previously mentioned at a Ways & Means meeting that 110 Lincoln could be a possible construction trades project.