Wright County approves funding for road in Buffalo development
By John Holler
For a small group of homeowners and a real estate developer, the Grand Castle Estates had become something of a nightmare for all involved because of a substandard road leading into the development. At the Oct. 9 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, a compromise agreement was reached to repair the road and allow the remaining housing lots in the development to be sold.
The Grand Castle Estates controversy began when the original developer ran into financial problems and sold only three of the 10 lots in the development, leaving seven lots empty and the road leading into the developed unfinished a below county and Buffalo Township code.
“It was a victim of the housing bubble when it burst,” Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer said. “The developer went bankrupt and the county and township put a moratorium on building permits until the road was brought up to county and township standards.”
The controversy that ensued was that the three homeowners that were in the development claimed they had already paid for the road construction as part of their home purchases and were unwilling to pay even more — as much as $15,000 per home — to bring the road up to code.
A new development group, Investment Lending Group L.L.C., took over the development, but without building permits, was unable to make use of the property. As a compromise solution, ILC pledged $100,000 to the county to get the road completed. In return, the county would end the moratorium on building permits. The cost of the project, which is estimated at $130,000 to 140,000, will be shared by the county and township for costs in excess of the $100,000 received from ILC.
“It was a situation where I think everybody came out ahead,” Kryzer said. “The road will be completed, the current homeowners won’t have to pay additional fees to get the road done, the developer will be able to sell the remaining lots in the development, the county and township will have a road that meets both of their road standards and the cost to the county won’t go on the levy to taxpayers. It was a solution that worked for all involved.”
Construction on the road is scheduled to start next April with a completion date scheduled for July 1, 2013.
In other items on the Oct. 9 agenda, the board:
ANNOUNCED that County Assessor Greg Kramber has been appointed to a term that will run through Dec. 31, 2013. The assessor is one of the few county positions that is made by appointment to four-year terms.
APPROVED waiving the minimum number of users needed for a group to reserve or rent campsites in county parks. The previous minimum for the group campsites was set at 15 people, but it was felt that smaller groups willing to pay the fee should be allowed to reserve spots.
RECEIVED an update on the Disabled Veterans Waterfowl Hunt, which was held Oct. 6 at Ney Park. Parks Administrator Marc Mattice said the program was a big success and hopes to make it an annual event.
REFERRED discussion of the county’s fees-for-serve policy to the ways and means committee.
APPROVED the August revenue/expenditure guidelines, which Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala said are both on track with initial projections. Hiivala added that the county will receive its full share of state aid money this year, so that funding source will remain in place as expected.
REFERRED discussion of the contracts for the agricultural inspector and the Parenting Through Divorce coordinator to the ways and means committee.
LAID over action on a proposed repair on County Ditch 14 until the county can secure cost estimates for the project.
REFERRED proposed adjustments to the fee schedule for the Collinwood Park shelter to the Nov. 13 public hearing that will be held as part of the county board meeting that day to get public input on the county’s fee schedule for 2013.
INTRODUCED new Assistant County Attorney Mitchell Ristine, who started working for the county attorney’s office Oct. 1. Ristine spent four-and-a-half years working for the McLeod County attorney’s office before spending the last two years in private practice.
REFERRED discussion of plumbing concerns at Human Services Center to the building committee.