11/22/2012 Kwik Trip seeking tax increment financing and Chisago officials and businesses
discuss sign ordinance next week
BY PAUL RIGNELL
Chisago City business representatives are invited to meet with City Council members and staff 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, at city hall to discuss proposed changes for the sign ordinance. Elected officials scheduled the forum after reviewing proposals Nov. 13.
One consideration is to allow marquee or wall signs to cover more space on buildings relative to their size, or basically raise the allowed maximum sign coverage by half (up from 4 to 6 percent coverage.) Council approved a variance earlier this year that allowed Trappers ownership to add the words “family restaurant” on their front façade toward Highway 8 in addition to placing new lettering for “Trappers.” The business owners reported to city staff and officials that they began to draw in new business from out-of-town travelers who reported to Trappers employees that on previous trips past they had not realized it was a restaurant. City Council member Joe Sroga said other businesses have been disadvantaged based on their topography relative to the highway, specifically pointing to the store fronts on Railroad Avenue.
“Who knows there’s a drugstore here, let alone a deputy registrar (in the city hall building),” he asked. The Nov. 27 forum will precede a regular council meeting. Kwik Trip news Council scheduled a public hearing for a Dec. 18 meeting where Kwik Trip officials will ask for tax increment financing of $200,000, primarily to cover estimated costs for cleaning contaminated soils and removing buildings from the former M&L Gas site, at 11085 Lake Blvd. After nearly a year of delays, according to city staff, Kwik Trip is scheduled to close on its purchase of the land by the end of 2012 for redevelopment (gas station and convenience store.) New tenants Council approved a three-year lease for vacant office space on the second floor of city hall for the Refuge Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has provided domestic violence services for victims in Chisago, Isanti and Kanabec counties for over 25 years. In 2011 the Refuge served more than 700 new victims in Chisago County alone, according to Executive Director Roxie Karelis. The program will be provide counseling and sexual assault services for residents of Chisago county.
The Refuge Network is outgrowing its current local center in the Red Key Realty building in Lindstrom, where the program’s existing lease ends Dec. 31, 2012, and the move is simply one for more space. “Our current landlords have been wonderful,” said Shellene Johnson, Refuge Network associate director, Nov. 13 at Chisago City Hall. City officials will allow Refuge Network staff to enter the vacant space ahead of Jan. 1, 2013, to establish the new counseling center. The program will provide its own furnishings and cleaning service, plus pay $160 per month to the city for utility costs based on a rate suggested by city staff and determined by square footage. Chisago City had cut annual funding to support the Refuge Network’s services several years ago in response to a tightening budget.