July 5, 2007 at 7:53 a.m.

First of annual county growth reports to commissioners focus on development numbers

First of annual county growth reports to commissioners focus on development numbers
First of annual county growth reports to commissioners focus on development numbers

The first of what is proposed to be annual county "density" updates from the county planner was presented last week to the County Board. Patrick Hollister told the commissioners he developed this building and development growth information based on what he was interested in, and encouraged the elected officials to let him know what other statistics would be helpful information. When the county takes delivery of the aerial topographic mapping data (story in Press May 3) there will be additional information created by that, especially identifying unbuildable slopes, etc.

According to Hollister his theory after reviewing the data is that developers are now cautiously building-out on lots that were actually "created" one or two years ago. He said through June 1 2007 the county's only had 17 single family home building permits issued, but there are many unbuilt lots remaining. The county-zoning area saw 224 lots registered on the tax roll in 2005 and 97 new lots came on-line in 2006. Hollister observed, "My theory is the development community has put on the brakes and said we need to build on what we've got and not keep creating so many lots."

That said, actual building permits are also way down. (See chart.) The number of new homesites in county-controlled areas is less than what it was 11 years ago.

Some of the other data that Hollister gathered includes the 2006 property tax on a single family home and on a sample $1 million property zoned commercial/industrial. In each case total taxes in Wyoming and Lindstrom (Hollister's samples) were greater than Blaine or Forest Lake.

Maps that depict where single family lots are located and where existing but empty lots are located were also part of the presentation.

Hollister determined that "at least one-quarter" of Chisago County's landmass is unbuildable. Lake and wetland comprise 21 percent of the county; with one percent beyond that held by state or federal governments and there's an additional three percent of land mass that is both lake/wetland AND owned by outside governments.

The commissioners unanimously approved a transfer of JOBZ acres within North Branch. The North Branch City Council last week also voted to allow the exchange.

An incoming company Topline Automotive LLC, wants to participate in JOBZ, but the acres dedicated to the program are not where Topline wants to build on 3.29 acres in the new ESSBY park.

North Branch was awarded a total of 43.2 acres under the JOBZ state incentives program. A portion of this was used for Andersen Windows. (Polaris Industries in Wyoming also was granted JOBZ status.)

There was debate in the last legislative session about extending the program or sunsetting the program early, but the program remains as-is. Chisago County JOBZ zones expire in 2015.

The bid was awarded to Fahmer Asphalt Sealers of Plover, Wisc. to sealcoat County Road 30, from Hwy. 95 north to #361 in Rush City. The 11.5 miles will cost $250,190.

Thomas McKenzie, Nessel Township, was re-appointed to his position on the Water Plan Policy Team. He serves for Dist. 5.


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