A breaking news version of this post was published at 10:46 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2012.
UPDATE (2:20 p.m., Sept. 13, 2012): Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill responsed to letters sent Wednesday from Croixland Properties and the Hudson School District with a letter of his own on Thursday.
In the letter (attached) he says the St. Croix Meadows rezoning issue will remain on the agenda for Monday's Hudson Common Council meeting and that the council will decide whether to grant or deny the request for continuance on the matter.
Later in the letter, Burchill made it clear that if a continuance is granted that all meetings among the parties would take place at regularly scheduled Common Council meetings and not outside of the Council Chambers of City Hall.
The following is the text from Burchill's letter with errors corrected in brackets:
I am in receipt of your letter from yesterday afternoon (September 12, 2012) requesting a continuance for the Request for Rezoning of the St. Croix Meadows Property. I believe it is in the best interest of all parties involved that the issue remain on the agenda for the Common Council meeting scheduled for Monday, September 17, 2012. The request for a continuance will be granted or denied by the Common Council.
The City of Hudson stands willing to negotiate a resolution to which all parties can agree. The Hudson Plan Commission agreed to grant St. Croix Meadows and the Hudson School District a four-month extension on the rezoning request to find solutions to issues that were addressed by the Plan Commission in April. Some of those issues were not addressed in the report presented at the September , 2012, Plan Commission meeting.
So, how do we proceed from this point? If the Common Council agrees to a continuance, it is in the best interest of all parties that future discussions and meetings take place at regularly schedule Common Council meetings and NOT outside of the Council Chambers of City Hall.
The next step in the process will be addressed by the Common Council on Monday evening. I look forward to hearing new ideas and potential solutions that have been developed since the September th Plan Commission meeting.
UPDATE (5 p.m., Sept. 12, 2012): The Hudson School District and Croixland Properties are asking the City of Hudson Common Council to delay its decision on rezoning of the St. Croix Meadows dog track property because new ideas have been generated to address the city's concerns about lost tax revenue.
The Hudson School District issued the following press release on Wednesday afternoon:
School District and St. Croix Meadows Owners Request Rezoning Continuance
The Hudson School District, along with the St. Croix Meadows owners, delivered letters today to the mayor and city council members requesting a continuance on the decision for rezoning St. Croix Meadows. The Board of Education met in closed session on Tuesday, September 11th and discussed the continuance request. Both the school district and owners have generated additional ideas to address the city’s concerns regarding the loss of tax revenue from the St. Croix Meadows property when it is rezoned to public use. The school district and St. Croix Meadows owners believe these ideas are worth discussing before a final decision on zoning is made. The school district and St. Croix Meadows owners are requesting time to work together with City Council representatives to develop a mutual agreement that will benefit all parties.
Both the Hudson School District and St. Croix Meadows owners believe a secondary school is the best redevelopment option for the St. Croix Meadows property. Sustaining the vitality of the community, supportive partnerships, and quality of life that attracts and retains residents to the City of Hudson is a responsibility that both the City and the school district share. The school district and St. Croix Meadows owners are committed to working with the city to develop a solution that addresses the city’s loss of taxes and supports the needs of the community.
UPDATE (3:26 a.m., Sept. 7, 2012: The Plan Commission on Thursday voted 6-0 to recommend that the Hudson Common Council reject the 's for use as a secondary school site.
The vote came at the conclusion of a very emotional nearly four hours of expert presentations, public input, commissioner questions, district and expert responses and commissioner statements. Fred Yoerg, Paul Radermacher, Frank Rhoades, Kevin Vance, District 2 Alderwoman Mary Yacoub and Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill voted for rejection. Mary Claire Olson Potter was absent.
Loss of Tax Revenue
Though the commissioners had multiple objections to rezoning the dog track property, the most significant sticking point was loss of current and future increases in tax revenue that would occur by turning a revenue-generating commercial property into a revenue-spending school.
Though the loss in City of Hudson revenue would currently be about $23,000, estimates prepared earlier this year by Community Development Director Denny Darnold show the potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax revenue if the site is developed commercially.
Making the Case
The district paraded multiple experts in front of the Plan Commission during a 90-minute presentation that rehashed information from they submitted ahead of the meeting.
Experts included John Shardlow and Jay Demma from Stantec, Mark Boehlke and Sam Statz from Hoffman LLC, Angela Popenhagen from Stevens Engineering, Tom Stiles from Safeway Bus Co. and Pete Seguin representing Croixland Properties, the property seller.
Bowen-Eggebraaten and Financial Services Director Tim Erickson spoke on behalf of the school adiministration. Board of Education members Tom Holland and Brian Bell presented on behalf of the school board.
The public input portion of the agenda drew 16 citizens, including school board members Pat German, Mark Kaisersatt, Lynn Robson and past board president Barbara Van Loenen who spoke in favor of the rezoning request, and board member Sandy Gehrke who spoke against it.
School District Reaction
Hudson School District Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten sent the following statement to Patch after the meeting:
"The District is extremely disappointed in the decision of the City Plan Commission. The District has met over the years with City officials regarding various properties, including St. Croix Meadows to resolve any anticipated issues. I believe that the Commission members did not give enough weight to the evidence in the report that was provided by a team of industry experts or to the 58% of City of Hudson voters who supported the purchase of the property by the District. The District along with the owners will continue to make the case for rezoning. We hope that the City Council will eventually support this so the property can become a future school to serve Hudson students for years to come. St. Croix Meadows remains the best site and the least costly for taxpayers."
Tensions Ran High
The meeting was heated at times and marked with moments of incivility.
At the beginning of the meeting, commissioner Paul Radermacher referred to Bowen-Eggebraaten as "Mary, our lovely superintendent." Later, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Vote Yes Hudson activist Dan Bushman used a portion of his time to berate the commissioner for that remark, to which Radermacher responded, "I don't give a [expletive]."
Radermacher apologized for both comments later in the meeting.
The City of Hudson Common Council is expected to address the issue at its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 17.
Back on April 3, to issue bonds in the amount of $8.25 million to purchase the St. Croix Meadows property. The purchase agreement is contingent upon rezoning the land from commercial use to public use.