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County begins process to sell Hudson land

Last Thursday a consultant reported on a plan whose goal is to have excess land around the St. Croix County Government Center ready for sale by the end of August.

During that meeting, county Finance Committee members also asked Barsness Consulting Services to hold a public information meeting in either late February or early March.

Barsness Project Manager Dennis Welsch said that while the County Board will make the final decision, the Finance Committee is the facilitating group and he plans to make monthly reports to that committee.

He said there are five or more alternative concepts for the site, ranging from the county keeping 20 acres and selling 50 acres for residential uses, to the county keeping all 70 acres for now.

"I don't think "A" (selling 50 acres for a mix of residential uses) or "B" (selling 50 acres for a mix of office or business uses) are worth a lot of discussion," responded County Board Chairman Buck Malick. "C" (selling 30 acres for a mix of residential uses and 20 acres for office or business use) is the one the appraiser gave us."

"It's fine having them on the list, but I think it's not worth putting a lot of energy into the first two," said Malick.

Last March an appraiser suggested that by dividing the land and selling part for business use and part for housing, the county could maximize its return while not permitting development that conflicts with neighboring uses. Sold that way, the land is worth about $6.6 million, said Jeff White.

"What scares me the most is the drainage issues," said Welsch. He said while the appraiser set a value on the property, he didn't address the issue of the net acreage available for development.

Malick suggested moving up plans to hold an informational meeting and seek public input. He said the county has been working into this process for five years and there still hasn't been a meeting to update neighbors and allow them to have their say.

He asked that "an open, unstructured" meeting be held fairly soon.

In its "plan for a plan" adopted over a year ago, the County Board agreed that if it sells the land, all of it will be sold at market value; that the county will look at the long-term fiscal implications and benefits of all types of development; and that it will require a written developer's agreement.