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County takes up street issue

WORTHINGTON -- No official action was taken Tuesday by Nobles County Commissioners following a lengthy discussion with representatives from the City of Brewster on that community's Second Avenue project.

Second Avenue in Brewster needs to be reconstructed and widened to meet the needs of a new $10 million fertilizer plant that New Vision Cooperative is building there. In initial discussions with New Vision, Nobles County and the City of Brewster were told the co-op planned to utilize the Minnesota's Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program, which offers financial incentives to businesses that are looking to expand or relocate to rural Minnesota. But New Vision Co-op will now not be utilizing the JOBZ program or Tax Increment Financing for various reasons, and New Vision wrote a letter to Nobles County and the City of Brewster requesting that the city and county cover the cost of the more than $500,000 street project.

"From a policy standpoint, we don't get into putting roads," County Administrator Melvin Ruppert said. "We have economic incentives ... but we don't build roads and provide infrastructure."

Commissioners and city officials will continue to discuss the issue to decide how the street improvements will be paid for.

"I really think it is New Vision's responsibility," said commissioner Diane Thier.

New Vision may be eligible to apply for tax abatement, another of the county's economic development tools for new and expanding business. Political subdivisions may grant a current or prospective abatement of taxes imposed by the political subdivision on a parcel of property if it expects the benefits of doing so to outweigh the cost of the political subdivision doing so -- or if it finds that doing so is in the public's best interest because it will increase/preserve tax base, provide employment opportunities and/or provide access to services for residents.

In a related issue, Judicial Ditch 4, which runs under the proposed street improvement project, was discussed. It was agreed that the current tile under the street should be replaced with reinforced concrete tile so that repairs following construction of a new street won't be necessary. The approximate cost of the project is $4,300.

Commissioner Marvin Zylstra made a motion to have a 9 a.m. public hearing July 22 during the next regular commissioners meeting. Residents who will be affected by improvements to the ditch will be notified of the public hearing.

In other business, commissioners:

* Approved a conditional use permit for Lao Temple Siri Buddharam to construct a 40- by 60-foot accessory/recreational structure to replace an existing structure.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Matt Ulbrich of Reading for a home-extended business to consist of appliance repair and recycling with five conditions. The conditions are: It is a six-year permit that will be reviewed in three years; he must maintain respect to the residential character of the neighborhood; there can be no more than 200 appliances on site; no appliances or appliance material can be burned or buried on site; and an 80-foot privacy fence must be installed on the west side of the property.

The business is located in an R-2 residential district in Summit Lake Township.

* Heard from Wayne Smith, environmental services director, about two hazardous household waste collections. Residents may drop off items from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday next to the fire station in Lismore, and from 4 to 6 p.m. July 16 next to the fire station in Ellsworth.

There will be a tire collection from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 23 and an electronics collection from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 28, both at the Nobles County Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Worthington.