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Council gives Ely Veterinary Clinic land for a buck

Keith Vandervort
Posted 4/25/19

ELY – Ely City Council members last week agreed to transfer land in the city’s business park to the Ely Veterinary Clinic for one dollar, following three decades of lease payments of more than …

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Council gives Ely Veterinary Clinic land for a buck

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ELY – Ely City Council members last week agreed to transfer land in the city’s business park to the Ely Veterinary Clinic for one dollar, following three decades of lease payments of more than $18,000 by the business.

Earlier this year, the council had sought to sell the property, located on Miner’s Drive, to clinic operator Chip Hanson for $10,000.

Hanson appeared before the council on April 16 to discuss the issue and present his opinion on the possible transaction. “This is not a normal real estate transaction,” he said. “If I don’t like the deal, I can’t just walk away from it. I have to somehow obtain the property. I have started to talk to people about the eventual sale of the business, and nobody will touch it if it is on leased land.”

In a letter to the city council and the projects committee, Hanson said the city had originally been unable to sell the land to him due to issues over land title.

“If, in fact, the land could have been sold at that time, we would have bought it at that time,” Hanson said. “It couldn’t legally be sold so that’s why this lease agreement was put into effect.”

Hanson said he tried to obtain the land a couple of times over the past 28 years. “I pushed to see if we could get this resolved, but never had much luck in getting anything to happen. For 28 years, I’ve paid a lease that totals somewhere between $18,000 and $19,000,” he said. “I also paid property tax on the building and the land,” he said.

Hanson noted that the city has been able to sell other business park parcels, including to Steger Designs, located next door to his veterinary clinic. “Property was sold to Steger’s, at that time, for $15,000, and the money was waived through jobs created in that business,” he said.

He asked for the same consideration, noting that the clinic currently employs 11 people, “probably with a significantly higher average wage than the jobs at Steger’s,” he said.

“I feel, that though it took years to do it, I have already paid for this parcel of land,” Hanson wrote. “Actually over-paid a bit.”

Earlier this year, the council sought $16,000 from Hanson for the land parcel, and then offered the discounted price of $10,000. The offer appeared to be dead, but Hanson’s recent letter and appearance before the council last week seemed to prompt a change in heart from council members.

Mayor Chuck Novak said the property tax payments should be set aside in the discussion, because they would have been paid regardless of a lease or ownership of the land. “But you make a good argument on the lease payments. We took the action that we did, because that was a reasonable amount (for the land),” Novak said.

Following the discusion, council members voted 6-1 to sell the land to Hanson for one buck. Paul Kess cast the lone “no” vote. “In fairness to the taxpayer, we should be getting some value,” Kess said.

Other business

In other business, the council:

Passed the second reading of a resolution regulating food truck vendors and transient merchants.

Approved attendance by members of the city council and staff at the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Lobby Day and Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, May 8 in St. Paul.

Agreed with the recommendation from the Projects Committee to apply to the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation for funding for a downtown fiber project.

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