City council revisits process for possible city land sale

Although discussion of a possible land sale in the city of Grand Marais was not on the city council agenda on Wednesday, February 9, the subject did come up at the meeting during council reports. Councilor Tracy Benson brought up the topic, noting that she had heard from “a couple of people” with concerns about the process taken by the city in the matter. Some citizens were surprised that the council was in negotiations for a land sale at 1800 West Highway 61 that had not been widely known to the public.

There was a discussion of a possible sale back in July 2021, when former city councilor Tim Kennedy attended a council meeting to say he may be interested in purchasing that property.  At that time, the council directed city staff to research methods for selling the property and obtaining a survey.

Since then, the only mention of the city-owned property was in a December 8, 2021 report from City Administrator Mike Roth who told the council that the city is waiting on an appraisal and engineering for sewer service before beginning the discussion of placing city property for sale.  Roth told the council the value will be based on usable space.

The next mention of the land sale on the city agenda was the closed session to discuss negations on the land sale on January 26.
At the February 9 meeting councilors expressed concern that the city does not have a policy for selling property. But they also noted it is very rare that the city is in this position. There was a discussion of whether having just one buyer brings the best return for the city. Mayor Jay DeCoux said he believes the offer made and being considered by the city council is fair and does give the city a good return on the property that it purchased on which to build its public works facility.

Mayor DeCoux also talked about the benefit to the community of having a new business in the Highway 61 corridor. City Administrator Mike Roth also said one of the council’s goals was to get the property back on the tax rolls.

Roth also pointed out that the property sale is not complete. He said anyone who is interested could contact the city with an offer to purchase. It is anticipated that a purchase offer from Tim Kennedy will be on the next city council agenda on Wednesday, February 23.

City Attorney Chris Hood affirmed that the city had not violated any laws in the actions taken thus far on this lot sale.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence shares more on this city council discussion in this report.