City of Crookston land buy from Herkenhoff looks like a no-go

Mike Christopherson

• The City asks developer 

to pay for wetlands delineation 

study, and he declines

Mike Christopherson

Managing Editor

It appears the City of Crookston will not be buying 62 acres of land from developer Bob Herkenhoff extending east from his Nature’s View Estates to the city limits boundary south of Polk County Highway 11.

City officials and CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth have been going through due diligence with Herkenhoff leading up to a potential purchase of the land, for $375,000, for some time. The thinking was that, even though Herkenhoff would step away from his leadership role that, through various collaborations with the City in recent years, has helped make his Nature’s View Estates the community’s most successful new residential housing initiative, the City could set itself up for several years on the residential housing front through the new lots that could be platted on the 62 acres.

Instead, it appears that a stalemate resulting from who would pay for a wetland delineation study as part of a potential purchase has derailed any possibility of the City buying the land.

The city council held a closed meeting on March 8 to discuss the parameters of possibly purchasing the land. At that meeting, according to a summary put together by City Administrator Amy Finch, issues relating to wetlands on the 62 acres were discussed, and the council subsequently directed City Attorney Corky Reynolds to approach Herkenhoff and ask him to pay for a wetlands delineation study, estimated to cost $3,000 to $5,000.

So what does wetland delineation mean? It’s defined as establishing the existence (location) and physical limits (size) of a wetland for purposes of federal, state, and local regulations. Wetland delineation is also an element of a jurisdictional determination.

According to another summary provided by Finch detailing actions taken after the March 8 closed meeting, Reynolds subsequently spoke with Herkenhoff and requested that he pay for the wetlands delineation study, and Herkenhoff declined to do so, and, according to the summary, made no counter-offer. Finch indicates in the summary that no further action will be taken by the City on the matter.

The City’s relationship with Herkenhoff regarding new residential housing in Crookston’s northeast corner goes back several years, beginning with Herkenhoff and the City collaborating on Barrette Estates Subdivision. Since then, Herkenhoff and the City have collaborated on the two cul de sacs extending to the east of Barrette, where one new home so far is being built. And as Herkenhoff has continued to sell lots along Eickhof Boulevard to the east and northeast, he has come to an agreement with the City to donate his man-made ponds as a natural City park.

Perhaps because the City is moving away from buying the 62 acres, and also possibly to better familiarize Finch with the area, engineer Rich Clauson with Widseth is on the council’s Monday evening Ways & Means Committee agenda to discuss the layout of the City-owned land north and northeast of Crookston Sports Center, which several years ago appeared to be the City’s primary future location for single-family residential, multi-family housing and commercial development. Prohibitive costs to extend utility infrastructure and continued concerns about a lack of adequate drainage during the spring thaw have combined to stall efforts for several years to move forward in the area, however.