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Baxter City Council receives objections to assessment

This Google Map shows the original alignment as Edgewood Drive and Excelsior streets met west of Highway 371. A realignment moved Edgewood between the Brenny Funeral Chapel and the strip mall with Boomer Pizza, creating a roundabout at the new intersection. 1 / 2
Chuck Rickart, principal at WSB and Associates, recaps the Excelsior and Edgewood street projects before the Baxter City Council during an assessment hearing Thursday, Oct. 11. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

BAXTER—An assessment hearing for Excelsior Road and Edgewood Drive improvements at Baxter City Hall included an overview of the $5 million project and documented the objections of three property owners.

Gary Fruth and Chris Quisberg, president at S & R Quisberg Inc. of Cub Foods, attended the Thursday, Oct. 11, hearing to note their objection to the property assessments. The city received letters to that effect from their legal representation. Joseph Brenny, the other property owner with the Brenny Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services, was not present. Fruth and Brenny along with Steve and Ruth Quisberg represent the ownership of eight parcels in the commercial area of the special assessments, with the Quisbergs owning six of those parcels.

The letters stated in part the assessments constituted an unconstitutional taking of the Quisbergs' property without just compensation. The attorney's letter stated the project benefited the city and others and therefore was no special benefit to the Quisberg property, and the assessments exceed any purported increase in property value. The Quisberg letter requested the total assessments for their property to be reduced to zero. The Fruth letter echoed those same sentiments. Brenny's letter stated Excelsior Road had years of service life remaining and the property value would not increase in value commensurate with the assessment, which represented an areawide improvement that was not a special benefit to his property. Brenny stated the assessment also represented an unconstitutional taking of the property in the amount of the assessment.

The project involves Excelsior Road—west and east of the new roundabout by Cub Foods—and Edgewood Drive to the north and south of the roundabout, which is just west of Highway 371.

The project is near Frandsen Bank, the Fruth property to the south of the bank, First Baptist Church, the Holiday Stationstore, Boomer Pizza and the strip mall, the Brenny chapel and Cub Foods. Work on the project began in February. All roadways reopened to traffic Oct. 5 with construction expected to be completed in November.

The project created a three-legged roundabout on Excelsior just west of Highway 371 and realigned Edgewood Drive as one of those legs farther west of its original path behind the Holiday station. Now, Edgewood links with Excelsior west of the strip mall. One of the early drivers in the project was a proposed development for a restaurant and retail project on the undeveloped Fruth property. Last year, Chuck Rickart, principal with WSB and Associates, told the council the developer working with the project backed out. The council agreed to create a three-legged roundabout with a fourth leg that could be created when the property south of Excelsior is ultimately developed.

The project included urban roadways, separated paved trails, storm sewer and water system work, street lighting, right of way acquisition, the single-lane roundabout, road realignment and landscaping, among other work.

About the project:

• Total project cost—$5,001,230.

• City cost—$4,152,769 or 83 percent.

• Assessed costs—$848,461 or 17 percent.

• The city pays for all trail costs.

• Interest rate is estimated at 5 percent, although the actual rate will be determined when the bonds are sold in November.

• Assessments will have a 12-year term.

• There are deferment options for senior citizens, those with disabilities or those on active military duty.

Undeveloped properties north of Edgewood Drive will have a deferred assessment, paying interest but not principle for 10 years. Developed properties receive a 50 percent reduction in assessment because Edgewood Drive was already in existence. Holiday is paying $337,171 for the dewatering of contaminated soil and water for the project.

For the roundabout, the city is paying 50 percent, or costs for two legs, of the project. With the city's plan, the development area south of Excelsior will pay 25 percent, and 25 percent will be assessed to what the city determined were benefiting properties using its area assessment method. The future fourth leg of the roundabout extends Edgewood Drive to Fairview Road, which runs north of Highway 210. The city purchased the right of way from First Baptist Church for the future project.

The benefiting area includes commercial and office service properties on Excelsior Road from Highway 371 to Forest Drive, Edgewood Drive north to Clearwater Road, the future Edgewood Drive connection expected to link with Fairview Road to the south, and Fairview Road—east of Inglewood Drive to the Edgewood Drive extension.

"No matter what happens we appreciate your patience with this whole thing, too, nothing comes easy," said Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson to Fruth and Chris Quisberg at the end of the hearing.