City receives $36,000 bid on old dump ground property

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017 — Mayor Josh Carlson and two aldermen barely made the necessary quorum for the Tower City Council to meet on Monday, July 31 and open three bids for the six acre former dump ground the city offered for sale in June. The winning bid of $36,000 was placed by seasonal Mill Point plat residents Terry L. Hildreth and Carol B. St. John, nearby neighbors to the property. Dave Rose, who owns an irregularly shaped parcel of land, which surrounds the old dump ground on three sides, originally asked the city to sell him the land this past spring so he could increase the buffer between his proposed recreational vehicle campground and the neighbors. Rose’s proposal to build a campground on a portion of his 10.35 acre parcel has proved to be controversial with Mill Point homeowners and they have collectively and individually clearly expressed their opposition to the campground.

The city council members present, Mayor Carlson, Deputy Mayor Lance Dougherty and Alderman Kevin Fitton were unanimous in approving the sale to Hildreth and St. John, who noted in their bid that they were prepared to close on the sale immediately. Aldermen Brook Anderson and Brad Matich were absent from the meeting.

Although outbid, Geoffrey Griffin submitted a bid of $32,500 and Rose submitted his bid of $30,509 for the dump ground. St. Louis County currently values the six acre dump ground property at $3,900 making the high bid price more than nine times its assessed value. It is now very obvious that the neighbors are not only opposed to the proposed campground but willing to pay a lot of money to retain the current status of the neighborhood.

Following the city meeting, Rose told The News that he was prepared to continue working on developing his land into a campground even though he was unable to add the city’s six acres to his parcel.

Two women, Hoodoo Point Campground seasonal campers, appeared before the city council to express their concerns about the city’s plans to abandon some sewer lines in the campground. This proposal would require campers to drain their wastewater holding tanks manually instead of utilizing sewer infrastructure now in place. This would cause undo hardship upon the campers and in effect be ”going backwards” according to the comments made. Many campers would need frequent wastewater removal service because their holding tanks are not sufficient to long hold all the wastewater created in modern camping which includes showers, toilets and in many cases dishwashers. The campers are trying to be good citizens the women maintained. The campers donate to the Fourth of July, participate in community events and shop locally the women said. Mayor Carlson took their comments under advisement and thanked the women for expressing their concerns.

The city council gave its unanimous approval to its engineer’s, Short Elliot Hendrickson, proposed timeline for construction of infrastructure improvements and adding campsites to Hoodoo Point. The final construction drawings and specifications are complete. The timeline specifies a August or early September deadline for the city to complete permit applications to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health and allow time for the agencies to complete its approvals before the city advertises for bids In September. It is expected that the council will hold a special meeting in October to open bids and award contracts. An October date has been set as the date to commence construction.

Alderman Dougherty questioned if the city would be hindered if the Minnesota agencies reviewing the project did not issue permits by the time the city sought bids. Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith told the council: “We could seek bids subject to permits being acquired.”

Last week the Planning and Zoning Board held a public hearing to seek input on four proposed additions to the city’s zoning ordinance and board chairman Steve Altenberg reported to the council that the only input received was related to one proposal—the proposed amendment requiring point of sale surveys. Altenberg told the council that Steve Abrahamson spoke against requiring a point of sale survey. It was noted that this might cause undo expense to owners wanting to offer their property for sale. Altenberg suggested that the city simply request that any property owners who do have current survey work completed file a copy with the city. The city decided that it would place the first reading of the final proposed amendment changes on its next meeting agenda and asked Altenberg to prepare a formal proposal for the city to consider at that time.

John Burgess, Tower Airport manager, appeared before the city council to outline the recent activities conducted at the airport. Burgess introduced Brian Schanche who recently expanded his Adventure Seaplane, LLC business to include a Tower Airport location. Burgess told the council that Schanche has 32 years experience as a pilot and 23 years experience in his business providing seaplane tours as well as training and education for pilots want to obtain seaplane ratings. Schanche also has a location in Lino Lakes, Minnesota and Florida. Schanche told the council that he has found business to be strong at his Tower Airport location. “I’ve been to many airports around the country and the Tower Airport is the best kept secret around,” Schanche said. He praised Burgess and the city employees for their diligence in maintaining the airport.

Burgess further reported:

• New shingles have been installed and the staining of the airport arrival and departure building has been completed

• The airport accepted a donation of a 2004 Volkswagen, with 70,000 miles, to be used as an airport courtesy car

• The fuel pumps are well maintained and in good working order

• The airport applied to the state for funds to replace the existing windsock with an improved model

• The airport commission is working with the state to instal a weather reporting system

In other action, the council:

• Approved spending $1,000 for wild parsnip eradication

• Approved spending $5,000 to complete soil borings so the city can commence construction of the new road and infrastructure necessary to complete the city’s obligation on the harbor town home project

• Approved a request, from Linda Haugen, to support the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center’s United States Department of Agriculture, rural development community facilities grant application

• Learned that the Breitung Police Department made a methamphetamine arrest at Highway 169 and Jasper Street in Soudan on July 15

• Discussed purchasing an equipment trailer with Breitung Township so both governments can easily transport their equipment when needed

• Commenced negotiations with city employees and their respective contract negotiators. Representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees were on hand to conduct negotiations with the city. Following a brief outline of the opening requests the city council closed the meeting and negotiated separately with each representative and the respective employees.