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Detroit Lakes' dilemma: take $135,000 now or hold out for $191,000

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The city is trying to decide whether it would be more beneficial to get a park dedication fee upfront or if it would just be setting an unwanted precedence.

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Richard and Lynn Petit owe $191,352 in park dedication fees for their development, Ridgewood Park, where values were estimated in 2005. The Pettits agreed to pay the city the park dedication fee over a 10-year period with 6 percent interest, which would figure out to about $30,000 a year.

But the Pettits sent a letter to the city, which was reviewed in Thursday's Community Development Committee meeting, requesting to instead pay $135,000 total upfront, which would include interest and penalties.

"Because of the current financial climate and the slowness of lot sales at Ridgewood, we hope you will accept this offer as it appears to be the only way we can meet this large obligation," the Pettit letter said.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen said he talked to Becker County Assessor Steve Skoog and the values of the lots are at or above the value taken in 2005.

"There's not much justification" in the request, he said.

Alderman Leonard Heltemes said he was concerned that if the city made an exception for the Pettits, other developers would be back requesting the same thing.

On the other hand, Alderman Bruce Imholte said, though he didn't agree with either way necessarily, that it would be nice to have $135,000 upfront for the bike trail project so the city wouldn't have to borrow for that.

He added that he felt it would also be appropriate to run the request past the park board before voting on the issue Tuesday at the regular city council meeting.

City Administrator Bob Louiseau said he would crunch some numbers and run them past the park board before Tuesday for input.

Also at the CDC meeting Thursday, the committee discussed the cost of bringing sewer and water to a 7.6-acre tract of land on Highway 10 east, which the owner is requesting to be annexed into the city.

The piece of land, which sits across from Ox Cart Trail, has a lot of wetlands and some high land that is buildable, although the city doesn't know of a building plan as of yet.

The cost to bring sewer and water out to the property is estimated at $280,000. Remmen said the landowner, Mark Olson, could have private sewer and water, but that it wouldn't be a good idea because of the wetlands.

Other aldermen said that if the landowner wants to be annexed into the city, he should be required to hook up to the city sewer and water.

Remmen was going to make sure the landowner knew the high cost before the council would vote on the matter Tuesday.

The Tuesday city council meeting will begin at 5:15 p.m. in city hall to allow for Mayor Matt Brenk to give the welcome at the community picnic in the Detroit Lakes City Park first. The community is welcome to ParkFest, a free day of activities and a picnic.

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