New Richmond’s development focus is near airportThe City of New Richmond isn’t likely to be involved in the purchase of land from St. Croix County.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
The City of New Richmond isn’t likely to be involved in the purchase of land from St. Croix County.
When the county board indicated that it would likely vote whether to sell its 500 acres of empty land in and near New Richmond, city officials wondered if it might be a good idea to secure a chunk of the property for future use.
Now, at least from the Economic Development Commission’s perspective, the county land will not be a high priority for New Richmond.
During the EDC’s regular meeting Thursday, Jan. 3, commissioners agreed that their focus should instead be on property to the east of the New Richmond Regional Airport.
City Administrator Mike Darrow said the community would likely be better off spending money to install streets, and extend water and sewer lines, so that that area will be ready for use by industrial and commercial businesses wanting to build.
He said the land-range planning subcommittee’s thought is that the county land should be purchased by a private party and the cost of infrastructure installation should be borne by them.
Darrow said city officials, instead, want to work cooperatively with the Town of Star Prairie and the Town of Stanton to see what can be done to begin plans for a “northside business and technical park” near the airport.
One of the possible first tenants of such an industrial park could be Engineered Propulsion Services, which is developing a new diesel airplane engine for the military and for general aviation purposes.
Commission member Judy Simon said she agreed with the approach.
“I think New Richmond is going to have positive growth for industrial,” she said. “We’re ready. I think New Richmond has huge potential.”
The New Richmond City Council on Monday voted to follow the course of action recommended by the EDC.
Darrow told the council that the development of the county land will be guided by zoning and comprehensive planning, whether the county sells it or not.
He said for the near term, the community would be better off spending its time looking at the entire Highway 64 and 65 corridor on the north end of town. The timing is good as construction of the new Stillwater bridge begins, he noted.
“We really need to get it right now,” he said. “We can’t miss this opportunity for really good planning.”
The council voted to not pursue the purchase of any of the county land at this time.
In other discussion at the EDC meeting, Alderman Jim Zajkowski reported that there was a flurry of activity at the end of the year as developers took out building permits to construct homes in 2013.
As the city’s “Land Rush” promotion was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012, developers realized that there may never be a cheaper time to build housing units in the city.
In the end, the city issued permits for 64 housing units in 2012. That’s a considerable increase from 2011, when just 14 or 16 permits were issued.