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BAXTER CITY COUNCIL: Analysis of tax-increment request for townhome project authorized

BAXTER — The Baxter City Council on Tuesday directed staff and the city’s tax-increment financing consultant conduct analysis to allow the proposed Sprucewood Townhomes affordable housing project to move forward. 

The townhome project, proposed by Kuepers Inc., architects and builders, would be for 34 affordable housing units on 4.19 acres on Clearwater Road just west of Highway 371. Steve Kuepers, of Kuepers Inc., said the project would be similar to the successful Grand Oaks and Grand Oaks North townhomes,

Kuepers noted that moving the $5,816,995 project forward was contingent on $4,711,00 in tax credits from the Minnesota Housing  Finance Agency. About $446,000 in gap financing would be needed, and without tax-increment financing that amount would increase by $149,000, Kuepers said. 

Tax-increment financing would amount to about $13,700 a year over the life of the TIF district, which could be 15 years or less. 

“TIF is necessary to make the project financially feasible and is presented at the minimum necessary,” Kuepers said. 

The council on Tuesday also approved rezoning the property from commercial to residential, approved a conditional use permit for the planned unit development at the site and approved the proposed architecture for the project. The approvals would be contingent on Kuepers receiving tax credits for the project.

Council member Mark Cross, a Kuepers employee, abstained from voting on all issues related to the project. 

In other action, the council:

Approved $3,500 for wetland delineation for River View Park, located on Riverwood Road east if the Mississippi River near Highway 371. 

Approved having city staff assisted the Baxter Baseball Association with hosting the 2011 10-U Cal Ripken State Baseball Tournament, the 2011 12-U Cal Ripkin Mid-West Regional Baseball Tournament and the 2011 Minnesota Twins Community Clinic.

Approved staff assisting with the 2011 Kiwanis Kids Triathalon on Aug. 27 and with the 2011 Lakes Country Triathalon Aug. 28, both at Whipple Beach Recreational Facility.

Approved the purchase of network infrastructure equipment upgrades for $16,807, as budgeted; and the purchase of computer equipment for $25,005, as budgeted. 

Approved the 2011 Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. contract of $21,500, as budgeted.

Approved the conditional use permit to amend the existing planned unit development to allow for the 262-seat Olive Garden restaurant on the Gander Mountain redevelopment. 

Approved an interim use permit to allow General Rental to conduct temporary outside sales/rental of equipment on an adjoining lot at 15302 Highway 371. 

Approved an interim use permit to allow Little Yukon Landscaping to conduct temporary outside sales of flowers and plants at 7761 Excelsior Road, the former site of the Photo Shop. 

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.