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No clear plan for Farmington commercial area

There were no simple answers when the Farmington City Council, Economic Development Authority and Planning Commission members got together to talk about Vermillion River Crossings Monday.

But at least they started to talk about the long-stalled commercial development and its future.

Planned in 2003 and platted in 2005, Vermillion River Crossings has long been identified as an area of commercial growth of Farmington. Monday’s workshop was designed as a first step in determining whether city officials still want to go ahead with that plan, or use the land some other way.

A new hotel is proposed for one area of the property, across from where McDonald’s and Family Health Medical Clinic now stands, city administrator David McKnight said. That proposal is close to becoming a reality. If it does, there is another hint that a convenience store would be built on the property to the west of McDonald’s.

McKnight has also been contacted by a developer who would build up another section of the land, but it would be residential housing, not commercial development. No one at the table expressed an opinion about using the land for housing.

However, the group spent a significant amount of time discussing the existing assessments on the Vermillion River Crossings property. The assessments are driven by costs associated with construction of the infrastructure on the land. On one parcel, the assessment is $50,000. Another parcel has as much as $1.7 million in assessments attached.

The assessments may deter developers from purchasing and developing the land, but the city has options to pay off those assessments itself. That would require drawing on funding that is otherwise earmarked for future road construction projects. McKnight encouraged the group to think about how they would like to proceed on that matter.

“If the assessments are going to be a problem, they have to be dealt with,” council member Terry Donnelly said.

Planning commission member John Franceschelli noted the existing plan was designed to tie Vermillion River Crossings to the downtown area, but he could not see how that would happen since the two are more than a mile apart and the route is not pedestrian friendly. If the area is to eventually develop as commercial space, he would like to see that topic addressed.

The meeting, McKnight said, was designed to get members of the three organizations thinking about the issues facing that property, and how they would like to proceed.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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