Grand Forks City Council members give preliminary OK to purchase land from Fufeng Group for infrastructure
A stormwater pond and wastewater lift station will serve the proposed Fufeng plant as well as properties along Highway 81 and 27th Avenue North, which the City Council approved to annex in June.
GRAND FORKS – As the city moves forward with recently approved infrastructure projects on the Fufeng/Highway 81 annexation area, City Council members on Monday reviewed a real estate purchase agreement to buy land from Fufeng Group for a stormwater pond and wastewater lift station.
The decision came during a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, which does not have final approval capability, even though its members also serve on the City Council. The final decision must come during an actual council meeting. The vote to approve was 6-1, with Rebecca Osowski voting "no."
The stormwater pond and wastewater lift station will serve Fufeng as well as properties along Highway 81 and 27th Avenue North, which the City Council approved to annex in June.
It’s expected that the stormwater pond will be constructed on a portion of Lot 3, Block One Peony First Resubdivision, which is now owned by Fufeng Group. The lot contains a total of 17 acres. The footprint of the stormwater pond is 11.43 acres.
Along with the stormwater pond, a wastewater lift station needs to be constructed to service the proposed wet corn mill plant along with adjacent existing and future agribusiness customers within the annexation area. The lift station is anticipated to be located on Lot 3 as well, with the footprint of the station a total of 0.52 acres.
Additionally, the Engineering Department is seeking to acquire the remaining 5.05 acres of the lot for the purpose of stockpiling materials — clay, for instance — for fighting future floods. If the proposed Fufeng project doesn’t move forward, the city would still own 5.57 acres of Lot 3 that could be used for stockpiling, infrastructure or other uses.
The total compensation to be paid to Fufeng for the lot is $282,030.69, with the funding source for the purchase coming from the Flood Protection Capital Project Fund.
City Attorney Dan Gaustad explained that within the development agreement with Fufeng, the compensation for the footprint of the stormwater pond is based on the percentage of the area that is not owned by Fufeng but contributes to the total area that adds to the pond.
Construction for stormwater pond projects — a new stormwater pond, temporary outfall pipe and temporary access road to the end of public right of way — is anticipated to start this fall.
Also Monday, the committee received a presentation regarding the Grand Forks County “home rule” proposal and an accompanying proposed half-cent sales tax. Both items will be on the November ballot.
If residents give approval to the home rule proposal, the county will have the ability to — among other things — propose new taxes, including the proposed half-cent sales tax.
The sales tax on the November ballot would raise money for a list of county projects. Of the funds, 60% would go toward building projects, specifically for improvements to the juvenile and adult correctional facilities. Another 20% would go toward road, bridge and culvert repairs, with the remaining 20% used to offset property taxes.
County Commission members have said the projects need attention, whether or not the sales tax proposal is approved, and that the funds to do the projects will be raised through property taxes. But if home rule is adopted, and if the new tax is approved by voters, it would take much of the pressure off property owners, proponents say.
Importantly, the proposed sales tax cannot pass without the county's voters first approving home rule. If home rule is not approved by voters on Nov. 8, the sales tax proposal is moot.
In other news Monday, council members:
- Considered reducing the number of alternatives for the 42nd Street railroad grade separated crossing project from five potential alternatives to three. KLG, which is hired to provide the environmental document, has been developing five alternatives for consideration, each varying in the cost and overall scope of work done on the project. Reducing the number of alternatives will reduce consulting time and costs.
- Reviewed several federal funding requests for various infrastructure projects that meet the requirements for available state and federal funding programs.