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Paynesville Press - June 29, 2005

City council to discuss annexations, zoning

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council is expected to consider a zoning request at its regular city meeting tonight and to discuss several large potential annexations to the city.

The council held an hour-long public hearing about a proposal by Dan Binsfeld to annex 64 acres (next to the Industrial Park) and develop 24 acres south of the Crow River for residential housing at its last meeting on Wednesday, June 8. The property is identified as industrial in the city's comprehensive, and Binsfeld - who has an option to purchase the property - requested the hearing to learn if the city would be willing to rezone it as residential.

Also on the council agenda tonight (Wednesday, June 29) is an annexation request by Ferche Development, LLC, of Rice, Minn., which has purchased two large properties (a 144-acre plat, including the turkey barns, and an 86-acre plat, currently a horse pasture) just north of the city, and in the general vicinity of the Industrial Park, and along Lake Avenue.

If annexed, these properties would enter the city zoned as agriculture. Binsfeld wants to create 30 to 45 residential lots along the river. It is still not clear what Ferche Development intends to do with its two parcels.

During the public hearing at the last city council meeting in June, the council heard opinions from several neighboring business owners in the Industrial Park, who felt that the property - currently owned by the Ampe trust - should be zoned for industrial use. Wayne Nelson of Nelson Plastics, Mike Christian of the Paynesville Engine Clinic, and Mel Jones expressed concern to the council that residential development would interfere with businesses in the Industrial Park. Industrial shops operate around the clock, these proprietors noted, and they feared interference into their business operations by residents. Furthermore, they argued that residential development around the Industrial Park would deter future industrial development in the area.

Binsfeld countered that residential homes already exist in the area, that the Industrial Park is already surrounded by residential developments, and that his plan for 30 to 45 houses on the southern 24 acres of the property would benefit the town. The current owners of the property, Peter and Paul Ampe, representing the trust fund, told the council that Binsfeld's offer was the first serious one they had received for the property.

The city council members seemed to agree earlier this month that industrial development would be the best choice for the Ampe property. But if industrial development is not going to occur there, then residential development should be considered, some added.

Council member Jeff Bertram suggested a desire to have a general meeting of PayDelCo to see if that organization would want to purchase the property for an industrial development. Binsfeld offered to allow PayDelCo to purchase it if they wanted to develop it as an industrial area.

The city has now received a letter from PayDelCo - the nonprofit organization responsible for developing the Industrial Park - saying that it was interested in industrial development on the Ampe property but the project was beyond its financial means, since it was not motivated by profit. PayDelCo would be interested in discussing industrial options for the property and in a partnership in developing it, wrote PayDelCo chair Pat Flanders.

The council tabled a decision about the issue on Wednesday, June 8, and indicated a desire to make a decision on Wednesday, June 29. The council's meetings start at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

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