Extending utilities to UU property is possible, but complicatedExtending water and sewer service to two properties that some people want the school board to consider as locations for a new high school wouldn’t be difficult, the Hudson Plan Commission was told Thursday night, Aug. 23.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Extending water and sewer service to two properties that some people want the school board to consider as locations for a new high school wouldn’t be difficult, the Hudson Plan Commission was told Thursday night, Aug. 23.
But it would require a change in the Municipal Code and a major departure from past policy for service to be extended to a third location on County UU, about three-fourths of a mile east of the city limits, said Dennis Darnold, the city’s community development director.
The Hudson Board of Education wants to build a new secondary school on the St. Croix Meadows dog track property on Carmichael Road on Hudson’s south side. School district residents voted 4,739-3,768 (56%-44%) to authorize the board to spend $8.25 million to buy the 130 acres in a referendum last April.
But the site needs to be rezoned from commercial to public use for the sale to be finalized, and some city residents and Plan Commission members believe there
are better locations for a school.
Mayor Alan Burchill, chairperson of the seven-member Plan Commission, said Thursday night that commission member Paul Radermacher asking for the discussion about bring city utilities to the other sites.
Radermacher noted the Plan Commission will be deciding in a few weeks whether or not to recommend that the City Council rezone the dog track property. He said questions have arisen about whether extending utilities to the other sites is feasible, and he wanted information about it presented.
St. Croix Meadows is already connected to city water and sewer service.
Bringing the utilities to the St. Croix County property at Vine Street and Carmichael Road wouldn’t be difficult either since the property is already in the city, with water and sewer mains nearby, Darnold said.
Extending utilities to a site in the town of Troy, south of River Crest Elementary School, would require annexing the property into the city, he said. But that, too, is feasible.
Darnold said that in his opinion the school district-owned property along County UU and Crosby Drive in the town of Hudson isn’t eligible for annexation because it isn’t contiguous to the city. The 110-acre property is about three-fourths of a mile east of the city boundary.
Darnold said the current Municipal Code prohibits the city from providing utility service to properties outside of its boundaries.
Some years ago, the city turned down a request from Faith Community Church on Carmichael Road for city water service.
Darnold said it would take an involved process and an ordinance change to extend utilities to the County UU property. He said city officials should give it a lot of thought before embarking on that course.
The policy of not providing utility service to properties outside the city was in place when he came to Hudson 26 years ago, Darnold said, and had been on the books for some time.
“What’s being gained by the city of Hudson by doing that?” is a question city officials should consider regarding providing utility service to property outside the city, Darnold said.
He added that it wasn’t really the Plan Commission’s responsibility to consider extensions of water and sewer service.
Plan Commission member Kevin Vance, also a member of the Public Utilities Commission that oversees the city water utility, offered that he had inquired of the state whether it would be possible to extend utilities to the County UU site after hearing that it wasn’t an option.
“The simple answer to this is, yes, it is possible,” he said.
Vance allowed that there would be hurdles to cross. “Is it feasible? That is to be decided,” he said.
In a lighter vein, Vance said that as a member of the Public Utilities Commission it is his job to sell water.
Plan Commission member Mary Claire Potter asked: “Is it our role to look at different sites in the city where a school could go? Isn’t that the role of the school board?”
Darnold said he didn’t want to dwell on the subject. He reported that school officials would be presenting a report on their consultants’ analysis of the four sites at the commission’s Sept. 6 meeting.
City Water Utility Director Tim Caruso attended the meeting and was asked by Burchill if he had anything to add to the discussion.
He said the issue had been summed up pretty well.
“It has been done,” Caruso added in response to a question from Plan Commission member Mary Yacoub. “We can deliver the water. We have the capacity.”
Plan Commission member Paul Radermacher said a water district would need to be set up to serve the County UU school property.
Jim Schreiber, director of the city’s wastewater utility, didn’t attend the meeting.
Denny Darnold jumps in
The roughly 130-acre property has a large building on it that the district’s consultants say could be incorporated into a new school.
But the dog track property will have to be rezoned from general business district (B-2) to public use (PUB) for the school board to move forward with its plans.
The Plan Commission is charged with considering the rezoning petition and making a recommendation to the Hudson City Council on whether or not it should be approved.
Earlier in the year, Darnold reported that the dog track property represents one-third of the vacant commercial property within the city or within a quarter-mile of the city limits.
He identified 197 acres of vacant commercial property within the city, and 194 acres within a quarter-mile of the city.
Darnold also reported that
District voters approved purchasing the dog track for a school site by a 4,789 to 3,768 margin, or 56 percent to 44 percent, I’d like to remind city officials. And if my memory serves me right, the support for that use of the property was slightly higher in the city than in the surrounding municipalities.