July 27, 2020 Public Hearing and Input Meeting Minutes-Alley Vacation


July 27, 2020 City Council

Public Hearing and Input Minutes

5:30 P.M.


A Public Hearing and Input meeting of the City Council of the City of International Falls, Minnesota, was held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building on the 27th day of July, 2020 at the hour of 5:30 P.M.


MEMBERS PRESENT:     Councilors Buller, Ditsch, Krause, Nelson and Mayor Droba.


STAFF PRESENT:    Kenneth Anderson, City Administrator

    Betty Bergstrom, Deputy City Administrator

    Kelly Meyers, Building Official/Zoning Administrator

    Ted Brokaw, Director of Public Works

    Emma Rud, Administration Support Specialist    



  1. Introductory comments and explanation of purpose for public hearing, Mayor Droba.
  2. Presentation by applicant submitting petition to vacate alley in Block 4, Franson’s Addition.
  3. City staff comments.
  4. City Council questions/comments.
  5. Public input/questions/comments.
  6. Close the public hearing or recess to continue at a future date (Council action-motion).


Introductory comments and explanation of purpose for public hearing, Mayor Droba

Mayor Droba welcomed and thanked all of those in attendance at the meeting. Mayor Droba stated that there was an application received on June 18, 2020 on behalf of Northern Border Investments, LLC requesting a vacation of the alley between 15th and 16th Street behind the property formerly home to the “Tee Pee Motel”. This public hearing and input meeting is to hear a presentation from the applicant submitting the petition to vacate the alley, as well as hear public comment on the matter.


City Administrator Anderson shared that consideration of the alley vacation is a legislative act in which the Council should determine if it is in the public interest to vacate the alley.


Presentation by applicant submitting petition to vacate alley in Block 4, Franson’s Addition

Jace Baldwin, Northern Border Investments, LLC, explained that the request is to vacate the alley between 15th and 16th Street behind the property formerly home to the “Tee Pee Motel”. Mr. Baldwin stated that without the alley vacation, the property was not well suited for development. Mr. Baldwin stated that Northern Border Investments has been working with Mr. Dave Edquist of Holiday/Circle K to develop the property.


Dave Edquist, Development Manager for Holiday/Circle K, was on hand to present plans for development of the site formerly home to the “Tee Pee Motel”. Mr. Edquist stated that Holiday gas station has had a presence in International Falls since 1952, with various store locations in International Falls. Holiday has been renting the 1100 3rd Avenue location since 2006 from the Leinum’s. Mr. Edquist explained that the lease for the current Holiday storefront is up in August 2021.


Mr. Edquist presented site plans and maps for development of the Northern Border Investments’ property if the alley vacation were to be approved. The building will be smaller in footprint, but the site will be larger and house two additional gas pumps, additional parking, and better traffic flow to allow for efficiency and ease of use for patrons. The current staff will all be transitioned over to the new storefront, with the old storefront returning to the owners, the Leinum’s.


City staff comments



City Council questions/comments

Councilor Nelson asked why on the map it appeared as though the new storefront was located on top of an existing house. It was clarified that Northern Border Investments owns the house in question and it will be included as a part of the sale and demolished to allow for development.


Public input/questions/comments 

Matt Koerbitz, 503 Shorewood Drive, stated that the article in the International Falls Journal made it seem as though the alley vacation was already agreed upon. Mayor Droba reminded Mr. Koerbitz that the City has no control over what the press publishes and instructed Mr. Koerbitz to refer to the City’s notice for the Public Hearing and Input meeting as “seeking input and comments”.


Mr. Koerbitz then pointed out that Holiday/Circle K do not currently own the property in question, therefore asked why this application is even being considered. City Administrator Anderson explained that there is a purchase agreement in place between Northern Border Investments LLC and Holiday/Circle K, therefore both parties have a property interest. City Administrator Anderson explained that there is likely a contingency in the purchase agreement that states if the alley is not permitted for vacation, the project will not go forward and the agreement will be severed.


Mr. Koerbitz asked Mr. Edquist if Holiday would have still been interested if the property still had structures on it and had not been leveled, to which Mr. Edquist replied, they would have still been interested in purchasing the property. Mr. Koerbitz confirmed with Mr. Edquist that this was a lateral movement and asked what was to happen with the current Holiday site. Mr. Edquist explained it is a lateral movement and the current site would stay with the Leinum’s at the end of the lease period.


Mayor Droba asked if there could be a contingency for the alley vacation that if this development does not materialize, the alley would remain an alley and not be vacated. Mr. Jace Baldwin agreed that if this project does not materialize, Northern Border Investments does not expect the City to vacate the alley.


Mayor Droba inquired as to whether there was a request for tax abatement of the developed property. Mr. Edquist stated that Holiday has not, does not, and will not request tax abatement for this property and intends to begin paying taxes in full immediately after acquisition of the property.


City Administrator Anderson explained that as a part of the record was a petition opposing vacation of the alley from community businesses. City Administrator pointed to a letter received from Attorney Steve Nelson on behalf of some of the petitioners in opposition of the alley vacation. City Administrator Anderson instructed the Council that the City would like to see an easement included as a part of the agreement for vacation of the alley, as there will be a portion of the sanitary sewer abandoned in the alley, and the remaining sewer will require a manhole to be installed by the developer for maintenance to be performed by the City.


Mr. Edquist explained that ideally if the alley vacation is approved, Holiday/Circle K would like to begin preliminary work in the Fall and break ground as early as weather permits in the Spring, with the goal of being in the building by the time the lease terminates with the Leinum’s in August 2021.


Mr. Jared Baldwin, 3341 County Road 20, with Northern Border Investments, reminded the public that they are asking to purchase the property as a part of the alley vacation process and are not expecting the City to give it to them.


CLOSED the public hearing

There being no further public comment, Mayor Droba closed the public hearing and input meeting at 5:55 P.M.

Mayor Droba stated there would be a brief ten (10) minute recess for Councilors to collect their thoughts before the Special City Council meeting vote.



Mayor Droba adjourned the meeting at 5:55 P.M.




ATTEST:                        Harley M. Droba, Mayor




Kenneth R. Anderson, City Administrator

Print Friendly, PDF & Email