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Hudson Common Council Votes to Deny Dog Track Rezoning Request

The City of Hudson Common Council voted to deny the request to rezone the St. Croix Meadows dog track property from commercial to public for use as a secondary school site.

UPDATE (10:32 a.m., Sept. 21, 2012): Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill issued the following letter about the St. Croix Meadows dog track rezoning vote:

It is always challenging to balance all the needs of a city within the context of a long-range comprehensive plan. A great deal of time, effort, and expertise went into the development of the Hudson 2009 Comprehensive Plan. However, without a commitment to the major components of that plan, it ceases to be a plan at all. 

Both the Plan Commission (6-0) and the City Council (5-1) did not concur with the rezoning of a 130-acre parcel of commercial property within the city limits to public use, as they did not believe it was in the best interest of the city. Both bodies were convinced that other options exist for alleviating space issues within our school district, but that this parcel of commercial land is irreplaceable. The potential for future property tax revenue from that site is significant and could be as high as $500,000-$1,000,000 revenue per year. Of this, approximately 25% would go to the city and 50% would go to the school district with the remainder going to the county, state, and WITC. While it is only potential revenue at this time, it was deemed important to protect the potential for future infrastructure and operational needs, as well as potential tax relief for city residents.

We remain optimistic that the Hudson School District will continue to address the space needs of our students and we look forward to our continued partnership with the school district.

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UPDATE (3 a.m., Sept. 18, 2012): The City of Hudson Common Council voted 5-1 on Monday evening to deny the request of Croixland Properties to rezone the St. Croix Meadows dog track property for use as a future secondary school site.

Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill was absent due to a family emergency. Council President Rich Vanselow presided over the meeting. Randy Morrissette II, Mary Yacoub, Lori Bernard and Kurt A. TeWinkel joined Vanselow in voting for the denial. John Hoggatt opposed it. 

Voters in the Hudson School District voted in April to approve $8.25 million in bonds for the purchase of the property, but a school cannot be built on the commercially zoned land.

After the Hudson Plan Commission voted to recommend denial at its Sept. 6 meeting, Croixland and the district sent letters to the mayor and alderpersons to ask for more time in closed session to discuss options that could be mutually beneficial to the city and the district.

Burchill responded by saying that the matter would come before the council at this meeting, and that any city business on this matter would be done in the Council Chambers in front of the public.

CROIXLAND PROPERTIES OFFERINGS

Pete Seguin, an attorney from Mudge Porter Lundeen & Seguin, respresented property seller Croixland Properties at the meeting, and began by restating the plea for a continuance to work out a mutually beneficial solution.

Seguin floated ideas including selling just a portion of the land to the school district while setting aside other acreage for commercial development, as well as a payment to the city from the seller to make up for some of the lost revenue.

"The owner also would be willing to escrow some money from the sale proceeds to pay to the city over the next several years to offset the loss of tax revenue," Seguin said. "The owner recognizes that the city needs the tax revenue. We're willing to work out a solution to provide those revenues."

Seguin then said that those revenues would be far exceeded in the long term by commercial developments currently in the works, including Uline, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"video-uline-holds-groundbreaking-event-for-hudson-distribution-center"} -->, , , the

Micheal Foley September 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM
John Hoggatt was on MPR this morning talking about the issue, and we have the audio at http://patch.com/A-xWbZ.
Micheal Foley September 21, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I just updated this post with a letter from Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill.
Jim Schrock September 22, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Water under the bridge? I have had a lingering and persistent thought regarding a series of comments that centered around the commercial marketability of SCM. At one or more of the recent meetings, it was implied that it was not commercially viable, as it had been vacant and for sale for many years. At the time, I thought that I had read something contrary to that, but I could not place where, when, etc. I searched the archives of the Pioneer Press and HSO, but could find nothing in reference to this issue. I assumed I had read it there, as those are the two papers I subscribe to. So, I filed it under 'memory lapse' and let it go.... …until this morning. By random chance and Google, I found the article I was looking for in the HSO, but could not find in their archives: http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/42068/ I suppose one can interpret the article with whatever slant they wish, but mine, at the time and now, is that it was saying the property is now being marketed, as of the article date March 09, 2011. If my interpretation is correct, this property has not had the chance to be commercially marketed, and that would make many of the referendum/rezoning arguments questionable. It also validates the decisions of the Planning Board and the Common Council.
Phil McGraw September 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Jim, you are absolutely correct; their arguments do not hold water. Numerous questions have lingered in my mind regarding the superintendent and the school board. Examples: Why did Tom Holland unilaterally order the investigation into Sandy Gehrke without a vote from the board? Was there a connection to that investigation and Lynn Robson’s threatening cease and desist letter to Sandy Gehrke? Why did Lynn Robson not recuse herself when under the cloud of conflict? Why would they publicly chastise April Simmons when it is against policy to share employee information? Why was the material regarding the marketability of SCM false or misleading? Why did they tell the public that UU was not suitable for a school? Why has the purchase agreement for SCM not been retracted yet? Do they find themselves above the law, or do they use the loopholes of the law in their favor? Why do they spend so much taxpayer money with Waldspurger getting themselves out of their questionable actions? Why do they go into closed session superfluously? These are pragmatic questions for our school board and the superintendent. Deceptive tactics will undermine the public’s sovereignty by giving citizens false information to use in making judgments. What crosses the line of obscene for me in these circumstances is the soliciting of “the children” for their own personal cause.
Lil Guy September 23, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Good to see an update with a response from Mayor Burchill.

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