The Crookston City Council on Tuesday approved a conditional use permit and variance requests that clear the way for the owners of the Crookston Inn (formerly the Northland Inn and America's Best Value Inn) to build a 24-unit apartment building behind their hotel.
The city Planning Commission last month recommended council approval of the requests, but when the council met a week later council members voted in favor of Ward 4 Council Member Wayne Melbye's motion to table the matter so it could be discussed further at the committee level. At the time, Melbye said he was concerned about how fast the city would have to extend the road in the area, which is also being targeted for a new hotel immediately to the north of the Crookston Inn.
Turns out, that committee discussion commenced almost immediately. The city Administrative Committee had a meeting scheduled to immediately follow the Oct. 22 council meeting, City Administrator Tony Chladek told the Times, and a representative for Crookston Inn owners Bhupen and Amy Ray apparently put to rest any concerns about the project, so it was placed on the Nov. 13 council agenda.
Bhupen Ray and Rod Anderson from Innes Construction of Grand Forks attended Tuesday's council meeting, but there was no discussion on the resolution prior to the vote. Anderson previously told the Times that he was assisting the Rays in the early stages of the project process.
Northeast ag land
The council approved a resolution entering into a cash farm lease agreement for the 2013-15 farm seasons with E & L Reitmeier, Inc. for the approximately 116 acres the city owns to the northeast of Crookston Sports Center.
The council earlier this fall was poised to approve the agreement with Reitmeier, but Andy Coauette, one of four bidders, voiced his displeasure with a process that he said didn't make it clear that he'd have an opportunity to attend the bid opening and increase his bid if he wanted to. At the time, Coauette had submitted the highest bid in writing.
The council agreed that the process should have been more clearly explained, and started the bid process over. The second time around, Chladek told the Times, only two parties submitted bids, and E & L Reitmeier, Inc. was the high bidder.
• At a city Ways & Means Committee meeting following Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Dave Genereux said that final preparations for the demolition of the former Z Place and Rock's Jewelry buildings on Main Street should commence Monday, Nov. 19, and the demolition could begin as soon as the following day.
"That's a long time coming, I think," the mayor said, "since that wall fell down on us many years ago."
Page 2 of 2 - • Now that he's been elected to the council's at-large seat being vacated by Frank Lindgren, Melbye on Tuesday submitted his resignation from his ward 4 seat, effective Dec. 31. Genereux has formed a committee to help find a successor to Melbye, and an informal meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall for anyone who's potentially interested in being appointed to finish Melbye's term in ward 4.
City Clerk Angie Menge said anyone interested needs to submit a letter of interest, resume of employment and community involvement and two letters of recommendation to city hall by Friday, Nov. 30 at 4 p.m.
Genereux said candidates will be interviewed in early to mid-December, with the goal of having someone appointed before the end of the year.
• Chladek told the committee that the process is commencing to replace a firefighter who's resigned, and that it appears a Crookston Police officer is leaving to take a job with the Minnesota State Patrol, so that position will need to be filled, too.