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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.

---

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

Jim Schrock September 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I cannot tonight, but I certainly want to at another time; this is a great idea!
Jim Schrock September 20, 2012 at 01:15 AM
"…bricks and mortar…" The role of a good teacher is to teach in a way that allows the student to see outside the very walls they are in, or to think outside the box. The bricks and mortar are merely the dressing on the task at hand. The achievements being touted are all well and fine, but that is the comparison to 'the schools down the road'. The accolades should be reserved for when the results are some of the best in the country, or better still, higher than globally.
David Robson September 20, 2012 at 01:31 AM
@Vote No Hudson, Lil Guy, Phil McGraw and others. You have chosen to blog about me on this website along with other websites, but you are blogging things that are not factual. Below are the many of the items that have been incorrectly blogged about me. To set the record straight: • I am not related to John Hoggatt • I am not making a commission on St Croix Meadows • I am not negotiating to buy or interested in buying St Croix Meadows • I am not negotiating to buy or interested in buying the UU property I feel that debating the issues are a great right that we all have and should fight to protect. I also feel that the parties that have been making these false statements on various sites should remove their inaccurate posts if they wish to be considered honorable. There are many other claims about me that are false. It’s a measure of your lack for truefullness, that you are not willing to sign your name to your postings and instead try to hide behind posting anonymously.
Vested Interest September 20, 2012 at 02:12 AM
@Dave Robson - ok, then let's talk about things that are factual. 1) Did your wife, as a sitting school board member and partner in Ban Tara LLC's vote to purchase the SCM property while knowing or should have known it was a conflict of interest to do so? 2) Did you or did you not attempt to take legal action against another school board member regarding other school owned land? 3) If you had nothing to gain financially from the sale of the dawg track, and knowing your wife was on the school board, why did you speak at the Plan Commission supporting the rezoning request? Being a spouse of a sitting board member makes you culpable of conflict when it concerns public money. Your hands look plenty dirty at the moment, and given your actions against others, all would be wise to remain anonymous.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 02:17 AM
David - thank you for setting us straight on those particular issues. Now since you have joined the conversation, would you like to truthfully discuss the other points that earlier in this blog were in question? 1) School board member Robson would not recuse herself even though they own almost all of the commercial property in Ban Tara (remember she sheepishly asserted that "Greystone" did not own the property, rather than admitting it is under various LLCs of the Robson's; 2) SB member Robson threatened to sue the newest board member to keep her mouth closed about potential real estate transactions; 3) Stantec consulting would not reveal the local commercial realtors they interviewed for information on the dog track. This is your opportunity to share.
David Robson September 20, 2012 at 02:33 AM
@Vested Interest, Phil McGraw - If you wish to have dialogue on these issues, you will need to be logged in under your real name.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 02:36 AM
@ David - a couple of more clarifications please: 4) Had the dog track been re-zoned public use, thereby removing 1/3 of the available commercial, isn't it safe to say all of your commercial property would likely increase in value (less supply increases demand), not to mention the increased traffic to the Ban Tara development? 5) How would you assume that the DOT land you recently purchased would eventually go commercial, when you would still need to approach council for re-zoning that? 6) Why would you represent the seller (Croixland Properties) when preparing the commercial land report for the planning commission? That certainly appears to be a conflict as well.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Thanks, Dave, but we would prefer not to receive cease and desist letters. If you have nothing to hide, you would answer the questions.
David Robson September 20, 2012 at 02:44 AM
@Phil McGraw - Thanks but until you and anyone who wishes to have a dialogue discloses thier real identity, I have no interest in engaging as there is no assurance you will speak the truth.
Vested Interest September 20, 2012 at 02:57 AM
@David Robson - we didn't ask/request/demand of you to come out here and defend your name. What we anonymously do is question actions of people with positions of public trust which looks to be below board. You can choose to either defend your actions anonymously or your name publicly, that was your choice when your wife took on a public role, not ours. You might want to keep that fact front and center.
David Robson September 20, 2012 at 03:21 AM
@ Vested Interest – I again refuse to engage in dialogue with anyone one who is not using their real name as history has proved that anonymous bloggers feel safe in making claims that are not fact based.
Lil Guy September 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM
You mean Phil McGraw is not a real name? Then who.was it I had coffee with the other day? Oh boy! !
Paul Bourget September 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM
It’s probably too much to ask for you people to knock off any and all language directed towards who’s in collusion with whom on this thing. At best it’s speculative, and the truth tends to eventually out itself in matters like this anyway. This banter is a distraction that’s only going to drive those people who really want to solve this school problem away. Who says this isn’t a small town?
Jackie September 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM
@David.....ok I will ask then. David do you have answers to the above questions?
Jim Schrock September 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Paine Reliever: I was at the Planning Board session when all of 'the experts' testified that their calculations were based, as instructed by the school et al, on a school size of 2500. So 2500 was the exact figure that is being referred to that evening, with no plus or minus variables. That would make Ms. McCormick's words factually correct, with the documentation being either meeting minutes, supporting documents, or the actual video where the words come straight from the horse's mouth. Ms. McCormick has done her homework on this issue, and all of her references are spot-on; thank you Ms. McCormick!
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Moving forward, the community is anxiously awaiting the superintendent to make a statement on where we go from here. A suggestion would be for her to clarify that the SCM purchase agreement has been (or is being) cancelled due to the re-zoning contingency that was not met, and welcoming public input at the upcoming October school board meeting. This would be a good faith step in bringing the community back together and engaging the public into other options to address the space issues. This would truly put the focus back on the children.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM
How did the meeting go last night, Paul?
Paul Bourget September 20, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Thanks for asking, Phil (I like your moving forward suggestion by the way). I was disappointed by the turn-out, but I was kind of expecting that. We kicked around some ideas and decided to try and hold another meeting in the hopes of bringing in more people. We're looking at this coming Monday or Tuesday evening at Paddy Ryan's this time. Any takers or other suggestions for getting together?
Jim Schrock September 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I could not attend last night, but I absolutely want to join in, as I am sure other do. Monday the 24th or Tuesday the 25th work at this time.
David Robson September 20, 2012 at 01:17 PM
@ Jackie – I do have answers to the questions, but from my position the anonymous on this blog try to bully people by hiding behind their anonymous names in interest of discrediting people to get their way. If they spoke the truth, they would sign their real name. What is your true identity?
Jim Schrock September 20, 2012 at 01:28 PM
After the Council meeting on Monday night, that very thought was suggested by several in attendance. It would be a huge step forward, but would need to be followed by true engagement of those who wished to participate. This would require an 'attitude adjustment' on the part of many. And in my own opinion: It's probably too much to hope for, but a big healing step would be a public apology to Sandy Gehrke; nothing she has done deserves the public flogging that she received. I am displeased that no one on the board stepped up and interjected dignity into that distasteful display/event.
Jim Schrock September 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
David, my true identity is listed, as are others. Some hide behind the cloak of anonymity for various reasons: fear of retribution, shyness, kids still in the school system, teachers worried about positions…etc. I do understand some of that. Beyond those reasons above, I commend you for your willingness to engage, and hope that you will continue to do so. I cannot say that I will always agree or support your position(s), but I have two ears and one mouth and I will guarantee that I will listen intensely, profusely, and actively to you.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Dave - wouldn't you categorize cease and desist letters with threat of a lawsuit to the newest board member that didn't agree with the SCM purchase as bullying? This is not a rumor, for I have seen the letters from your law firm in Forest Lake. Yet you wonder why some on here conceal their identity when asking you to answer a couple of questions...just saying.
Phil McGraw September 20, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I agree with Jim that Elizabeth does her homework,provides factual information, and is versed in law. The school district is well aware of her capabilities as seen in previous referendums. Her competence should be welcomed, not squelched.
Paul Bourget September 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Elizabeth - Could you please gimme a call when you have a minute? 715 222-9023 Thanks
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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