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Dog Track Appraised at $16.8 Million; Rezoning Remains Uncertain

The Hudson School District has chance to spend $8.25 million to purchase property valued at $16.8 million. Voters will decide on April 3, but Plan Commission is still to decide on zoning.

At its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 14 at River Crest Elementary School, the Hudson School District Board of Education received an appraisal showing the St. Croix Meadows dog track property is far more valuable than the district's $8.25 million purchase price. Voters will decide on the land purchase in an April 3 referendum.

Jeff White and Paul Daley of Eau Claire-based Valuation Specialists delivered the appraisal report showing that the property is worth about $16.8 million — $7.1 million in land value and $9.7 million in site improvements that include the existing building and infrastructure.

The appraisal was based current market conditions and as if the property was rezoned for public use and used as a school site.

St. Croix County assessed the property at less than $5.6 million in September 2011, and it is currently zoned for commercial use.

The current property owner — Croixland Properties — has a purchase agreement with the district that is contigent upon the district securing financing through an April 3 referendum and upon the rezoning of the property.

On Jan. 23, the Hudson Common Council scheduled a public hearing on the issue for April 9 and referred the request to Plan Commission. Community Development Director Denny Darnold said that the Plan Commision has until just March 10 to deny the rezoning request or send the matter to the Common Council unless Croixland agrees to extend the 60-day timeframe.

On Monday, the city's Plan Commission heard comments from representatives of Croixland Properties, Hudson School District administrators and two St. Croix County supervisors. In addition, Darnold gave a presentation about the value of property, particularly as a commercial area, and layed out the potential tax revenue loss the city would suffer if the land was rezoned for public use.

The commission voted to seek an extension from Croixland Properties on the March 10 deadline in hopes of taking the issue up after the April 3 referendum, but before the April 9 council hearing. 

"I feel that the Plan Commission should not be put in a position to publicly endorse or deny approval of something like this until the voters have spoken," said commission member Fred Yoerg. "To make us come to a decision to say we are either for or against prior to any public vote puts us in the awkward position of saying that we're endorsing something publicly."

Dan Bushman February 21, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Also, I suggest you contact the City of Hudson and ask them about extending the sewer and water to the UU property. They have indicated to the district that will not happen.
Calvin February 21, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Mr. Bushman, Although I did not live in Hudson at the time, I believe there was a referendum around 2003 for approximately $25 million to build an 8-9 building on the UU property. I been told that this failed referendum is what lead to the creation of the Facilities Planning Task Force. I know 2 individuals that served on that committee (and after reading your HSO letter to the editor I understand you did too). Perhaps you could use your contacts at the school district and let us know if this is indeed a fact. It's been very hard to find any information on this prior referendum.
Dan Bushman February 21, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I will look into that. I don't recall that one. And if I'm wrong, I will humbly stand corrected. There was a referendum in 2003 to clean up and remodel Willow River School and add some space onto the high school, and that passed.
Dan Bushman February 21, 2012 at 10:57 PM
And I will stand corrected. Yes, that is true about the 2003 referendum. And I do want to find out more. Fair enough?
Cheryl McCarten February 21, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I've been wondering the same things, Calvin. A lot has changed since 2003. The MS has been (somewhat) expanded and River Crest was built since then, but I can't find much information about the UU property, either. I'm following this just to see where it goes and am interested in more information from Lars Glockzin's comments above. In the meantime, I just can't get behind purchasing the dog track land just because it's there.

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