CITY GOVERNMENT: City votes to sell land to McDonald's operator
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council voted Monday to draw up a purchase agreement with McDonald's operator Corey Klinefelter to buy a plot of city-owned land next to his restaurant.
Klinefelter said he needed a decision from the council so he could work with McDonald's corporate leadership to renovate and expand the location on Highway 197 south of downtown. He detailed the money he had paid in taxes for the past five years and said the city selling the plot would help create more tax revenue and jobs.
"As a local business owner, I know the importance of business growth and job opportunities for its citizens," he wrote in an April 23 letter to the city. "I believe that your willingness to sell me this parcel will allow me to continue to invest dollars in Bemidji and improve this restaurant."
Klinefelter does not own the land or the building itself, but he said if he owned the vacant lot next to the restaurant, the McDonalds corporation would be more likely to keep a franchise there and expand.
Council members said it would be difficult to sell the land to a different party since it was too small, and thus better for Klinefelter to use for an expansion.
The council voted to set the price of the lot at $50,000 and direct city staff to begin work on a draft purchase agreement with Klinefelter.
The city also conducted a public hearing Monday on the effectiveness of its stormwater pollution prevention efforts as required by law.
Just one member of the public testified at the hearing, Doug Smart, to point out what he felt was an unfair disparity between stormwater fees paid by homeowners and commercial landowners.
"Why pick on the commercial property?" Smart said. "It's almost like you want to punish the commercial property, punish the achiever."
City Engineer Craig Gray said the fees are based on level of use at a the property, so they're higher in commercial property than homes because the businesses generate more runoff that flows into the sewer.
"On a larger parcel, those fees can get quite high," Gray said.
In a memo to the city, Gray enumerated how the Public Works Department had worked last year to prevent harmful runoff and sediment from entering local waterways through the stormwater system. The city cleaned nearly 2,500 feet of stormwater pipe and collected 240 cubic yards of debris while sweeping the streets. They removed 12 cubic yards of debris from drainage ditches (including beaver dams), and repaired 10 manholes and catch basins. They also installed new stormwater protection measures during the 2013 Street Improvement Project.
The street department put down "considerably less" sand during the winter, focusing sand only on intersections, curves and hills, Gray said in the memo.