City Council to vote on trail agreement, change in alcohol sales and property grants

Published 12:46 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

The Albert Lea City Council will vote at its April 25 meeting on a joint powers agreement with Freeborn County to develop a former railroad bed into a pedestrian trail within city limits. Under the agreement the city would assume responsibility for operating, maintaining and repairing the trail while the county would retain ownership.

“The main purpose for this agreement is to work together to develop the trail, seeking grants to fund the work,” said City Manager Ian Rigg in a press release.

The proposed Albert Lea-Freeborn County trail from the abandoned Union Pacific Railroad line. Provided

The 2.4-mile trail would run along the former Union Pacific Railroad bed from Sundance Lane, along State Highway 13, across the highway, along Elmira Street, across Shoff Creek, and through the south part of the city to Madison Avenue. It would eventually connect to other portions of the former railroad line owned by Freeborn County and other regional trails.

Also Monday, the council will vote on:

  • Introducing a change in city regulations for selling alcoholic beverages to be more in line with state regulations. The current city ordinance prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a school or 100 feet of a church. The proposed change would prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a public school. State regulations do not include any restrictions based on distance to a church. The proposed change was prompted by changes in the types and locations of buildings where people worship. The buildings may be located near existing businesses that sell alcoholic beverages, or are potentially zoned to do so.
  • Authorizing a $62,500 Small Cities Development Grant for rehabilitating a vacant rental property at 209 Ermina Ave. The grant would provide up to $12,500 for each of the five rental units to cover 50 percent of the eligible expenses. The council will also vote on the same type of grant, of up to $24,900 total for two rental units, at 727 S. Broadway Ave. These grants would be one of the many steps the city is taking to address the local housing shortage by working with private owners.
  • Declaring no need for a more in-depth environmental study of demolishing two vacant buildings at 324 and 332 S. Broadway Ave. The city has found the buildings to be uninhabitable, hazardous and infeasible to restore.
  • Authorizing soil testing for contaminants at the Blazing Star Landing this summer to better understand the potential and costs for development at the site. The City received a $50,000 state grant to test 6 acres of the site, and city staff is seeking $100,000 in city funding to test the north portion of the site. A meat-packing plant occupied the site for several decades, burning down in 2001 and leaving behind several contaminants in the soil.

The Albert Lea City Council meeting will start at 7 p.m. April 25 at City Hall, 221 E. Clark St. For the full agenda, visit the City website. The meetings are open to the public, and also available online by going to www.cityofalbertlea.org and clicking on “ALTV” in the upper right corner.