Weather Forecast


Residential development loan approved

BEMIDJI – The city council approved a loan request for a developer of proposed townhomes near the Sanford Center.

The council was presented Monday with a request from B&B Enterprises LLC for $250,000 out of the city’s revolving loan fund. That group has negotiated a purchase agreement with the Bemidji Economic Development Authority to buy 6.5 acres of land northeast of the Sanford Center for $300,000 with an option to purchase about five acres south of that in the future.

Tiffany Fettig, business loan consultant for the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, said the loan was requested because the developer is footing the cost of building a street to the townhomes, which will be deeded back to the city.

She added it appears “very reasonable” the loan would be paid off within five years.

A public hearing on the land sale is scheduled for April 1.

The council also approved a loan extension request for the Headwaters Housing Development Corporation, which owns seven undeveloped lots near the southern portion of B&B Enterprises’ proposed development.

The city loaned the HHDC money about a decade ago for infrastructure, which was scheduled to be paid off in April 25, 2016. The council voted to extend that loan repayment on five of the seven lots by two years Monday.

Aaron Chirpich, development director at the HRDC, said extending the loan will allow them to tie together the repayment due to date to B&B Enterprises’ potential development of the land.

“They would like to incorporate our lots potentially into their phase two (development), but would like more time to develop a little bit more on phase one,” Chripich said. “It makes sense that we would request an extension on those lots if they do require our lots…to create alignment with their proposal.”

Taproom ordinance

Rejoice, beer-drinkers: A new way to enjoy your favorite refreshment may soon be on the way in Bemidji.

The taproom and growler ordinances passed their final hurdle at the Bemidji City Council meeting Monday night. Their passage allows licensed brewers to apply for taproom licenses for an annual fee of $400, and growler licenses for $240.

The ordinances had their final reading Monday and passed unanimously. No one spoke in opposition during the public hearing March 4.

Taprooms have sprung up around the state since the Legislature’s passage of the “Surly bill” in 2011. They provide a place for brewery visitors to have a pint of beer next door to where it’s made, and take home a fresh 64-ounce jug called a “growler” or 750 milliliter bottle of the beer.

Justin Kaney of Bemidji Brewing Co., which worked with city officials on the proposal, said having the ordinance in place puts them one step closer to opening a full brewery of their own.

Currently, they brew out of Harmony Co-op’s community kitchen, selling their limited supply to Brigid’s Irish Pub. They already have a state and federal approval to brew.

But Kaney said last week having a taproom ordinance in place opens up another way for a start-up brewery to make money, and attracting potential investors.

“It legitimizes a revenue stream that many breweries across the country, and many breweries across the state, are utilizing to basically make it as a small brewer,” Kaney said.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607