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."