What is the property value of land that was recently platted at the Douglas County Fairgrounds as part of the Fairgrounds Area Master Plan?

The city and the Douglas County Agricultural Association, which oversees the fair and leases the land from the city, will soon find out.

At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council agreed to obtain quotes from licensed commercial property appraisers about how much it will cost to determine the value of the parcels. The property is proposed for multiple uses, including potential commercial uses.

The cost of the appraisal, if approved, would be split between the city and the agricultural association.

The master plan, which keeps the fairgrounds and racetrack in their present locations, includes steps to make the entire area more attractive and usable on a year-around basis by creating additional walking and parkway areas, multi-use fields (for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball), an improved walking connection between the Runestone Community Center and the fairgrounds/midway, and an extensive greenway along the west edge to take advantage of the natural open space that’s there.

There would also be space near County Road 82 for private development of an on-site lodging facility and restaurant. The internal roadway system would be improved to make better and more defined connections to the public streets serving the area and would include a connection between County Road 82 (on the north) and Latoka Drive/County Road 90 (on the south). This would provide a new access point to Douglas County Public Works.

Following are other items from the Aug. 12 meeting not included in other council coverage.

Charter changes get final approval

After a long process that required extra steps, three changes to the city charter — the constitution that guides city policy — received final approval.

Because the changes involve amending the charter, each one had to receive unanimous approval at two public meetings and must be signed by the mayor. A public hearing was also required before the council could take action but no one from the public spoke.

The last step for the amendments is to allow the public 60 days to file a petition calling for a referendum, which would require voters to approve the changes. If a valid petition is not submitted, the changes will take effect in 90 days.

Here’s a summary of the changes:

  • Section 2.04 officially changes the title of city clerk to city administrator and designates other subordinate officers. The amendment says the administrator will perform the duties and responsibilities of the city clerk and treasurer as determined by state law, the charter and city ordinances. The city clerk title was changed decades ago to reflect the fact there was no longer a clerk or treasurer, but the council at that time did not properly go through all the steps that are needed to make changes in the charter.

  • Revisions in Section 2.05 streamline the duties of the city administrator as having all the powers, rights and privileges as granted by the charter, the city council or the state. It also says that if the administrator is absent or unable to perform his duties, the council will designate someone to do the work.

  • The last amendment deals with initiative, referendum and recall – processes used by the public to overturn certain decisions made by the council that don’t appropriate money or involve tax levies, land use or zoning. The changes include more detailed instructions for those who sign the petitions and makes the process compliant with state law. It also adds details for the petitioners, such as requiring that the five electors who form a committee to initiate a referendum or recall to be residents of Alexandria, as well as those signing a petition.

Two temporary liquor licenses issued

The council issued temporary liquor licenses to the Church of St. Mary for its annual open-to-the-public block party at the Runestone Community Center on Sunday, Sept. 8; and to Copper Trail Brewing Company for a two-day event, “Ole-toberfest” on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21 in the parking lot of its new location at 205 North Broadway. The brewery’s grand opening is set for Aug. 30.

Sewer system to be audited

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will conduct a routine on-site audit of the city’s municipal storm sewer system program on Thursday, Aug. 29, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz.

The MPCA will review all aspects of the program.

“This is the first time the city has been audited but it is something that we have expected to occur at some point,” Schultz noted in his report to the council.

Subordination agreement

The council approved a request from Bremer Bank to subordinate the city’s existing Revolving Loan Fund loan with Gunnarson Properties, LLC for improvements to its property at 2210 Highway 29 South.

Bremer Bank, the primary lender on the project, asked for the agreement to clarify for auditing purposes that the city’s loan is in a junior position to the Bremer loan.

Gunnarson Properties owes $68,250 on the city’s loan.

Merchant licenses approved

Lake Country Meats, 1700 N. Nokomis NE, Alexandria is holding a vendors’ event at its location on Labor Day weekend and some of the merchants are required to obtain a transient merchant license from the city.

The council approved licenses to four vendors — Kristy Wussow of Hemp Works CBD Oil, Mark Linemann of Tech North, Janice Jablonski of Mary Kay and Doug Johnson of Doug Johnson Chainsaw Carving.