The city of Tower, Minn., won’t use taxpayer funds to advance the development of a private RV park or other prospective development along the East Two River, according to The Timberjay.
The city council, on Monday (Oct. 12), voted unanimously to reject a request by developer Geoff Griffin to pay for one-third of the cost of enrolling a formerly city-owned parcel in a brownfield program overseen by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, or MPCA.
The site in question once housed a city dump, although the city paid to remove years of accumulated trash back in the 1990s as part of a remediation effort there. But some restrictions on the type of development allowed at the site remain unless developers enroll the site in a brownfield program designed to ensure that the clean-up did not leave any lingering contamination.
The status of the former dumpsite has stalled development of an RV park proposed by Dave Rose, who owns adjacent property and recently swapped land with Griffin that includes part of the former dumpsite. The city, at the insistence of the MPCA, has called a halt to any development on Rose’s property until the brownfield process is completed. The cost of the work, which would include a phase I and a limited phase II study, is approximately $9,000.
That could be the total cost assuming that no major contamination is discovered. Under Griffin’s proposal, the city would pay one-third of the cost, while Griffin and Rose would split the remaining two-thirds.
Rose, who spoke at Monday’s meeting, argued that the city had a responsibility to help finance the studies. “The city advertised this land for sale for development property,” Rose stated, “and put the price at eight or nine times what it was assessed for.”
He cited letters from the MPCA to former clerk-treasurer Linda Keith, which recommended that the city enroll the site in the brownfield program. “The city ignored those letters and, instead, advertised it for development property.”
“It’s true that the MPCA recommended it, twice,” acknowledged council member and zoning administrator Mary Shedd. “But the city of Tower chose not to enroll, which is typical.”
Shedd said such studies — particularly the more-involved phase II portion — are typically undertaken by developers, since the parameters of the study depend on what the developer wants to do with the property.