Mt. Carmel deal could go to planning commissionRed Wing City Council will decide today whether it will send a proposal to buy land on Mt. Carmel Road to the city's planning commission.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing City Council will decide today whether it will send a proposal to buy land on Mt. Carmel Road to the city's planning commission.
The council hadn't intended to put the proposed land deal through that process.
But during a workshop Friday the city's attorney, Jay Squires, told the council that an obscure statute requires the planning commission to review land purchases in the city made by local governments, and to hold a public hearing.
"I personally have no issue with running it through the planning commission," Council member Dean Hove said.
The law charges the planning commission with reviewing whether a land sale jives with the city's comprehensive plan, Squires said.
Squires said he'd never come across the law before — most likely because it doesn't have any teeth.
There are no penalties for not following the process it outlines, he said.
"That's probably why it's not followed very often," Squires said.
Mayor John Howe found the statute and brought it to the attention of the city's lawyers. Howe has been critical of the proposed land deal.
Howe came across the statute while looking for a way to challenge the council's ability to approve the land deal by motion. Howe said the council might use a motion to approve the purchase rather than a resolution or an ordinance because the mayor can't veto a motion.
At its last meeting, council had considered buying the land — 340 acres at 6063 Mt. Carmel Road, for $1.75 million — but ultimately tabled the matter.
Council members were concerned they were perhaps making the purchase prematurely.
That's because the city doesn't yet have the environmental permits necessary for using the land to dispose of treated sludge from its wastewater treatment facilities — which is the city's reason for buying the property.
The earliest they could receive those permits would be next fall.
A public hearing process likely would give more speaking time to concerned residents who say injecting sludge into the bluff top poses health and environmental risks.