BAXTER -- After months of speculation over whether the proposed Menard's site north of Baxter would be annexed into Brainerd or Baxter, its property owner has spoken.
Merrill "Dutch" Cragun, who has a purchase agreement with Menard's, Inc., sent a letter to the Baxter City Council dated Jan. 4 informing Baxter that plans for the site still includes annexation into Baxter.
Cragun has attended Brainerd City Council meetings during annexation discussions involving property north of both cities.
"We are looking forward to the annexation of the Cragun property as soon as possible," Cragun told Baxter City Council members in the letter.
The Menard's site sits north of Lewie's RV on the east side of Highway 371 North and includes about 35 acres of land owned by Cragun and about 10 acres of land owned by Lewis Smith, owner of Lewie's RV. The property is in Unorganized Territory, but could be annexed into the city once annexation of 69.75 acres between the site and the city is finalized.
It depends on a tug-of-war over the land between Baxter and Brainerd.
Brainerd City Council members Monday moved forward with their plans to annex about 1,100 acres into the city. Brainerd's proposed annexation includes the Menard's site. A second reading of the annexation ordinance will be Jan. 18 with a final reading expected on Feb. 3.
The proposed Menard's site plan has been resubmitted to the city of Baxter with a few minor revisions. Menard's is planning to build its store behind five or six commercial lots that they plan to develop and sell to other businesses along a Highway 371 frontage road.
The site plan for Menard's includes parking, outdoor storage, a lumber yard, lighting, stormwater retention ponds, wetland protection and mitigation and landscaping and screening. Cragun said the smaller tracts along 371 potentially could be used for a range of commercial and retail uses that include general commercial, banking, retail, sports shop, restaurant, fast food or a service station. Utility connections should be constructed for a fall news hookup, he said.
"Immediately after annexation, we expect to work with the city to secure all necessary permits and approvals so that construction may proceed immediately after May 9, news, regardless of whether or not the moratorium is lifted at that time," wrote Cragun.
On the advice of City Attorney John Person and the Minnesota Planning Office, Baxter City Council members Tuesday repealed Baxter's amended annexation ordinance the city passed in December and reinstated its original annexation ordinance from Sept. 7.
The original annexation called for 69.75 acres of land to be annexed north of Baxter, while the annexation by petition ordinance only allows for 60 acres or less to be annexed. The extra acreage is Highway 371 right of way. City council members in December eliminated the extra acreage by excluding a portion of Lewis Smith's property.
That portion was again included and the ordinance will be resubmitted to the state.
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