By ADAM GRUENEWALD
In an effort to encourage business development, the Norwood Young America City Council paved the way for a new business in town during its meeting on Monday, March 24.
After careful consideration, council members approved, 4-1, annexing land into the city as well as several variances for Molnau Trucking, which is currently located in Belle Plaine.
Whether or not to annex 19.17 acres of property, including a 7,200-square-foot building, located east of town and south of Highway 212 at 13050 Stewart Avenue, was the biggest question as it is not directly adjacent to city boundaries.
The property was originally constructed for a trucking and warehousing businesses and also used a commercial cabinet shop.
Plans provided by Citzens State Bank of NYA call for Molnau Trucking, which currently operates 13 dump trucks for job sites and snow removal, to build a fuel dispensing and containment system and incorporate landscape materials for contractors as well as expand to 30 total truck at the rate of zero to three per year.
The business is owned by Nic and Anna Molnau and Ryan Molnau, all Central High School graduates.
Council member Dick Stolz, as well as Young America Township supervisors, two of which were present at the meeting, cautioned against the annex and the process of “leap frogging” because it ignores the property in between.
Stolz, who voted against the annexation, said that the area is not about to become urban or suburban in character and won’t have access to sewer and water for a “long time.”
“While I understand the applicant and their reasons and why they want to do it,” he said, “from a city standpoint to accept property leapfrogging over another property, it doesn’t seem to logically fit what a city should be annexing.”
Stolz also reminded those in attendance of the available land at the city’s industrial park.
“If you drive around and look at cities, contractors yards are really not tough to locate because they are messy, they are ugly, they don’t purchase a lot of tax base and you have a lot of stuff coming and going all the time,” said Stolz. “It’s a tough eyesore to look at.”
Other council members agreed with Stolz on not liking the idea of leapfrogging, but saw the benefits of the project and understood the benefit of moving into the area.
City Administrator Steve Helget outlined the applicant’s motivations.
“Cost is a factor here versus having to build a building and also the ease of moving into a building that was already developed and designed for a trucking company,” he said. “It’s very attractive that way and makes it easy for them. There’s a lot of extra space there also if they wish to expand.”
Township Supervisors Virgil Vollbrecht and Ron Trick, who were both present at the meeting, expressed concern as well referring to a letter they wrote with fellow supervisor Brad Schrupp.
“We understand you can do this according to the agreement, but we don’t want to start a precedent here,” said Vollbrecht, emphasizing they are not against the business coming in but rather the leapfrogging concept. “We want this property in here and somewhere down the road if that property wants to add it’s just a haphazard thing.”
Vollbrecht also expressed concerns regarding increased use of the road on the east side of the property, asking the city to annex about 900 feet of road from Highway 212 to the railroad as well.
“If this property goes into the city, their tax dollars are going to the city and the township isn’t getting anything,” he said. “Why should we maintain that road? Whether it’s 15 trucks or 30 trucks, that road is going to take a beating no matter what.”
While they decided not to annex the road at this time, council members agreed to take on the responsibility of the road.
“As far as the street they are on, the city should take care of that,” said council member Mike McPadden.
Mayor Tina Diedrick supported the annexation.
“The city is here to support growing business and it looks like they are ready to expand to a location that seems ideal for them,” she said. “There’s only one property in between. I could see if it was 20 acres or four different property owners in between… seeing as it’s just one property between the city limits and there, I just don’t see that as one huge leapfrog, I think it’s a little baby hop.”
Council member Jim Keller agreed.
“Leapfrogging, that is an issue, but again it’s just one property,” he said. “I think the opportunity to save a building or a property from decline outweighs that. I’ve had a long discussion with (the owners of Molnau Trucking) and I think they’re going to be good corporate citizens.”
According to the agreement, the city will pay the township $4,7625.50 over the next six years to accommodate the property.
After approving the annexation, council members approved several other items related to the property including rezoning the area to light industrial, approving a conditional use permit for limited outdoor storage and an ordinance to allow for trucking.
In other news, council members reviewed an update on Cartegraph, the city’s method of tracking hours and equipment, approved the purchase of three desktop computers for $2,445, approved a contract with Third Half Service LLC of Maple Plain for employee drug testing, and lowered the city’s equipment breakdown deductible from $4,524 to $1,000 with a premium increase of $390.
The NYA City Council next will meet on Thursday, April 3, at 6 p.m. for a strategic planning session to identify capital improvements for the five-year financial plan. It also meets Monday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]-inc.com.