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Blue Earth taking four tax-forfeited lots

By Staff | Aug 23, 2015

Old buildings and empty lots in Blue Earth took up a large portion of last Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The council decided to purchase four properties before an auction being held by the county, but decided to pass on another.

Faribault County Auditor/Treasurer John Thompson had furnished a list of five tax-forfeited properties inside the city limits of Blue Earth that were among those set to be auctioned off last Wednesday. The city was given first option on the properties.

The Blue Earth council discussed each one individually and then made a decision to offer to purchase four of the five.

One is a lot on the corner of Sixth and Main streets where the city had paid for demolition of a former video rental store.

“This property recently was released from a Wells Fargo mortgage and so the city has the opportunity to purchase it without the mortgage,” city attorney David Frundt said.

The price will be $100 to the city.

Mayor Rick Scholtes spoke in favor of the city taking over the lot.

“I think this is one that we want,” he said. “We want to fix this up and not let it look like it does now.”

Councilman John Huisman agreed.

“The Blue Earth Foundation has an interest in fixing up this property, not like Gazebo Park, but with a rain garden, butterfly garden and a bench or two,” he said. “So it will help make it look better.”

The rest of the council agreed with the purchase, as well as the purchase of three lots located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Leland Parkway and Highway 169.

All three have a price tag of $100 each, but one of the lots, the one that abuts Highway 169, has an additional assessment liability of $13,522.95, which drives up the price to $13,622.95.

“That is our city assessment for the work on the Highway 169 project,” city administrator Tim Ibisch explained. “So, we would pay that full amount but would get most of it back.”

The council discussed what could be done with the properties, since they are in a flood plain. One idea was to turn it into a pond, and another was to dump snow on the land during the winter.

City engineer Wes Brown said it could be used as a rain water runoff retention pond.

A property the council was not interested in purchasing was a former gas station on Grove Street (Highway 169).

“This building just makes our town look bad,” councilman Dan Brod said. “It is a real eyesore.”

But, while some councilmen were interested in getting the property so it could be torn down, others thought it might be something a private individual could be interested in buying, because of its location on the highway.

The price on the property was $100, but it also has a city assessment on it of $6,184.25 for the recent Highway 169 street and utility project.

Councilmen also expressed some concern that there could be some underground fuel leakage dating back to the days when it was a gas station.

“The underground fuel tanks were removed a long time ago,” Mayor Scholtes says. But city engineer Wes Brown added that there was some contaminated soil found in that location when the highway project was underway.

“You would only be responsible for removing contaminated soil found during any excavation on the property,” Brown says. “And there are state Petro-Fund monies available to help with the cost.”

The council decided to take a “wait and see” approach, and if the property is not sold, they would approach the county about demolition of the building in the future.