Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Rukavina attempting to mediate land dispute

Tax-forfeited parcel, site of a former dump, requires clean-up, but both Ely and Morse township want the land

Keith Vandervort
Posted 9/19/18

ELY – St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina is attempting to mediate a land dispute between the city of Ely and the town of Morse. Both governmental bodies want a 60-acre parcel of …

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Rukavina attempting to mediate land dispute

Tax-forfeited parcel, site of a former dump, requires clean-up, but both Ely and Morse township want the land

Posted

ELY – St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina is attempting to mediate a land dispute between the city of Ely and the town of Morse. Both governmental bodies want a 60-acre parcel of tax-forfeited land, a former dump site off Lookout Ridge Road just south of the city.

Ely Mayor Chuck Novak told city council members Tuesday night that negotiations continue. Last week, Rukavina tabled the matter at the county board meeting. Town of Morse recessed its regular meeting as well, and the three parties gathered the next day to discuss ideas.

“We had a discussion about several parcels of land, and it seems like there might be a willingness to work with us, but I’m not sure what that means,” Novak said.

In a memo from Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski, a proposal was made by township officials to allow the city of Ely to annex approximately 220 acres around the Lucky Boy Pond area. “This proposal would require the city not to continue to pursue the 60-acre parcel near the landfill,” he wrote. The land is wooded and does not lend itself to development.

Negotiations between the city and township were set to continue late this week at Rukavina’s office.

According to Langowski’s memo, the city is seeking the corridor between the landfill site and the city’s boundary at 8th Avenue and Boundary Street. “To develop the site will require city infrastructure and city tax dollars,” he said. “Without the ability to annex the property and provide city infrastructure, there is little incentive to continue the current cleanup process.”

Novak added, “We should all work together to clean-up that area. We don’t know what the long-term effect on groundwater will be. The only way to get that cleanup paid for by brownfield funding is if the city comes up with an economic development project.”

City officials have indicated in the past that workforce housing or light industrial manufacturing could be developed for the site.

Following a motion and support by council members to direct the mayor and clerk to continue to negotiate to acquire the 60-acre parcel in question, Paul Kess noted that once the land is cleaned and developed, it will return to the city’s tax rolls instead of going to the township.

Langowski said the city has been attempting to acquire the 60-acre tax-forfeited parcel for at least 14 years.

Other business

In other business, the council:

Heard that the Planning and Zoning committee made a procedural error in notification for their rezoning public hearing for the Community Center and will reschedule the hearing. This is a contingency for the impending sale of the landmark. The city council’s public hearing on the Community Center purchase agreement remains set for Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Heard that the 7th annual Ely Fire Department Public Safety Open House will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 3-6 p.m. at city hall.

Rejected the sole bid of $52,918 for the removal of the Community Center’s heating oil tank.

Approved a Residential Rehab Loan of $6,500 for Ann Loschheider of 336 W. Harvey St.

Approved a Residential Rehab Loan of $7,000 for Douglas Scheibe, 548 E. Washington St.

Changed the November meeting of the city council from Election Day to Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m. The council will meet at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 to canvass the vote for the General Election.

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