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Crow Wing County Board: Sale of property west of Old Highway 16 gets green light

Crow Wing County purchased the property lying west of Old County Highway 16 in 1989. Over the years, due to land sales and property splits, the legal descriptions for the property to the east of the old highway erroneously included county-owned property as private property. Click on the image to view the entire graphic.1 / 2
Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray2 / 2

It was a mistake three decades in the making.

Crow Wing County purchased property west of Old County Highway 16 in 1989 in Crosslake in "fee title," which means the owner has the right to control, use and transfer the property at will.

"What makes this different is that it's fee title, meaning we're the sole owner of it, in contrast to a highway easement where the adjacent landowner still has some rights and some tie to the property," County Engineer Tim Bray said. "We are the sole owner of that piece of property still."

Due to land sales and property splits, the legal descriptions over the years for the property to the east of the highway erroneously included county-owned property as private property.

"So as the property has been split up and now there's a sale of the property, the title company, in their research, caught the mistake and came to the highway department, just verifying that we own the land and then how do we resolve it," County Engineering Coordinator Mark Melby said.

Bray and Melby sought approval from the Board of Commissioners at a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 29, to sell a portion of the old highway to an adjacent landowner.

The title company, property owner, county attorney, county assessor and highway department determined it was best for the county to quit claim the area no longer necessary for highway purposes to the adjacent property owner in accordance with the applicable laws and statutes.

"We had to request to relinquish that to the property owner that's essentially using it now," Bray said after the special board meeting. "A building was built on it, and the true ownership, which was Crow Wing County, was not discovered, so a building was allowed to go on there."

Quit claim means the property owner transfers any interest in the land to the recipient. The county property, mistakenly classified over the years as private property was sold, and the closing of that property was delayed due to the record's discrepancy.

"It was discovered by the title company who is representing the current owner in a sale, and hats of to them," Bray said.

"They did a good job of researching that and finding that there's a challenge and getting that cleaned up for him, so we're happy to help the landowner out to do that and get that off our books appropriately."

Commissioner Paul Koering then made the motion to approve the sale of a portion of Old County State Highway 16 to the adjacent landowners, John and Deborah Moengen, for $600, in the form of a quit claim deed.

"It really is a small piece. It is not needed by the highway department, and we just had to follow the statute to sell it back to the adjacent landowner, and we must, according to statute, recover fair market value for it, and it was, in this particular case, $600," Bray said.

Commissioner Steve Barrows seconded Koering's motion to approve the sale, which was then passed unanimously. Commissioner Doug Houge was absent from Tuesday's special meeting.