Lonsdale conducts three public hearings on assessments

Three public hearings dominated the agenda of the Lonsdale City Council’s regular meeting held Thursday, Nov. 14. 

The first, and longest, started at 7 p.m. to gain public input on the reassessment of the 80th Street Improvement Project. The only property owner affected by the reassessment was Legacy Land Development of Minnesota.

City Engineer Kevin Kawlewski provided background on the project, stating that complete street and utilities were improved on 80th St. (Idaho St.) due to the construction of the Lonsdale Elementary School in 2006. At that time, Legacy Land Development objected to the assessment and came to an agreement with the city to have their total assessment of $421,000  applied to just four lots of the subdivision. 

Over the years, Legacy did not pay the property taxes or assessments on the four lots, and the land was recently forfeited to the State of Minnesota. 

With written direction from the city attorney, City Administrator Joel Erickson recommended that the council agree to assess the remainder of Legacy’s 27 unsold lots $8,000 each over the next four years, at a 5.5 percent interest rate to recoup $248,000.

Lonsdale resident Tim Kes was present and asked the council why all of Legacy’s lots weren’t assessed up front.

Erickson responded, saying that some of Legacy’s lots had been sold or were in the process of being sold to private parties, and at that time, lots were selling for $75,000 to $100,000 each. 

“It didn’t seem out of the question,” Erickson said. “There was no reason on the city’s behalf to think they wouldn’t follow through.”

The council agreed to the resolution after discussing a written objection from Legacy Land Development that called the reassessment “contrary to law”.   

A second public hearing was held for input on assessing benefiting properties for improvements involving the Lonsdale Business Park in the amount of $1,218,473. There were no public comments, and the resolution to assess the project was approved.

The final hearing was held to assess unpaid water/sewer bills and nuisance abatement accounts. There were no objections or public comments and a total of $8,720 was assessed to 48 property owners.