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Baxter City Council: Authorizes negotiations for Excelsior Road project

BAXTER - The Baxter City Council met in a special session Wednesday night to approve a blueprint of what the city is looking to acquire for the Excelsior Road right-of-way.

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BAXTER - The Baxter City Council met in a special session Wednesday night to approve a blueprint of what the city is looking to acquire for the Excelsior Road right-of-way.

The council met in a short closed session to discuss acquisition negotiations for land needed for the road improvement project. The project is designed to improve the street, lighting and pedestrian trail and crossing, along with storm water facilities on Excelsior from Cypress Drive east to where the city limit hits Brainerd at Jackson Street. Excelsior Road connects with Highway 210 and runs along the business district including stores like Super One Foods, goes under the Paul Bunyan State Trail overhead bridge and by the Arbor Glen and Autumn Glenn apartments. Construction is planned in 2015. The city approved the Excelsior right-of-way plat Wednesday.

The project includes a portion of Conservation Drive and Cypress Drive next to the Excelsior Road corridor. Future plans are for a roundabout at the Cypress Drive intersection. The city wants to have trail and utility improvements between Fairview Road and the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

Scott Hedlund, Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) senior project manager, presented an overview of the right-of-way needed for what the city has planned for improvements. Council member Jim Klein questioned if the entire right-of-way was needed. Hedlund said with utilities and all the other considerations, the space was needed. Market value appraisals for the property easements were completed by SEH.

The council voted and authorized negotiating for the acquisitions using discussions in the closed session. The city approved using negotiation or condemnation to obtain property for the project.

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In its resolution, the city stated it wanted to make offers to property owners based on completed market value appraisals. No numbers were discussed.

Property owners along the corridor in question include the state, Trails Head Business Center, Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan, and Vandeputte Properties, along with a handful of individual owners. The city of Baxter already owns property in the section and there is a gap area of nearly 300 square feet that has been determined not to be owned by anyone.

In next steps, SEH will meet with the property owners to let them know what the city is doing and why and discuss a financial offer.

Hedlund said a 335-square-foot area planned to be used to connect the trail at Fairview is owned by BNSF Railway and would mean entering into discussions for a permitted use or easement. The easements, using other examples such as utility crossings of rail lines, could be in place for 99 years. Hedlund said it didn't seem to be a controversial issue to get through the red tape but if it did drag on, the city could pull that piece out of the project.

Council member Mark Cross was absent.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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Related Topics: BAXTER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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