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Council enters purchase agreement

With the mayor casting the deciding vote, the Albert Lea City Council opted 4-3 Monday to accept a commercial-industrial purchase agreement with developer John Chadwick.

The agreement is for a 3.16-acre parcel on Blake Avenue in exchange for the city getting rid of previously deferred assessments of about $80,000 for another parcel of the developer.

City Manager Victoria Simonsen said the developer appraised the land at about $130,000. The money on top of his balance of $80,000 in deferred assessments would be considered a gift to the city.

The land is north of Home Depot with frontage on Blake Avenue.

Citing the lagging economy, Councilor Larry Anderson voted against the agreement because he said he thinks the city needs the about $80,000 in deferred assessments more than it needs the land now.

Councilor Larry Baker said even though economic times are challenging, he still thinks the land would be a good acquisition for the city.

The property, which is at a high-profile corner, would maybe be easier negotiated if it were in the city’s hands, Baker said.

Councilor Ellen Kehr voted against the agreement for a reason similar to Anderson’s, but she said she also thinks the B-2 zone needs to be left with the private sector.

Chadwick explained all of the investment he has had into the property, including when Blake Avenue was installed.

Mayor Mike Murtaugh said he contrasted this situation to the Mexico Lindo property. In that case the city’s hands were tied about what it could do with the property and if it could be sold.

With this case, he said, he didn’t see the acquisition of the land as long-term. He thinks the city could potentially get value back.

Councilors Vern Rasmussen, Reid Olson, Baker and Murtaugh voted in favor of the agreement, while Anderson, Kehr and Council Al Brooks voted against it.

The parcel has an easement that limits uses to essentially parking or walkways.