City, county agree on industrial park needsThe Lake County Board of Commissioners will work with the City of Two Harbors on turning the J.J. Casting Foundry site near the Agate Bay waterfront into an industrial park.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners will work with the City of Two Harbors on turning the J.J. Casting Foundry site near the Agate Bay waterfront into an industrial park.
County commissioner Brad Jones said Tuesday the two sides are in the very early stages of talks about the site and he didn’t have a lot of details. “It really seems to have all the right features.” He said utilities would already be available to a business if they wanted to move there. Access to Lake Superior is also seen as a draw.
The Two Harbors planning commission is working on a comprehensive plan that will include redefining zoning for the area. The entire current industrial park is outside of city limits on the north side and the city is trying to find ways to shore up its tax base.
The planning commission has nine scenarios drawn up for zoning in the Agate Bay area east of where a marina is planned to go in.
Jones said the industrial park north of Two Harbors is full and some businesses have shown interest in the past of wanting to use another site in the city.
Among those who have shown interest include a wind turbine manufacturer and an ethanol plant. In January the Two Harbors City Council reported that any possibility of a wind turbine manufacturer coming to the harbor area will depend on a six-month to one-year wait on technology issues. Wind Energy Corporation is trying to make its designs more efficient and affordable before making any decision on adding manufacturing plants.
Jones said the J.J. Casting site was looked at a few years ago by a group looking at sites for an ethanol plant, but nothing materialized. He said they did a walk through and that was about it.
The city council has discussed clearing the entire site and starting from scratch without the deteriorated buildings.
“You could probably build a new building five times over [rather than refurbish it],” Jones said at the Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.
County Commissioner Rick Goutermont said the board supports any efforts to revitalize the area.
Funds could be sought from Iron Range Resources for a project.
The Two Harbors planning commission will continue its work on the comprehensive plan at a 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at city hall. It plans to have a public presentation on its work at its Oct. 5 meeting. The commission will have a plan ready for the public hearing Nov. 16.
The county board approved a jail cook job description with a comparable worth review. County Coordinator Matt Huddleston said it’s the first step in getting Fuzion Food Group to be the supplier of frozen meals for inmates. The board sought out meal providers in the area, but none of them could offer meals for what Fuzion would cost a year, about $58,000. Current meals from Sunrise Home cost $96,000. The cost for Fuzion ovens would be a big hit, $40,000, and staff would be used to prepare meals in the jail kitchen.
The preliminary property tax levy was set and has no increase from last year. Huddleston warned that it doesn’t mean property taxes won’t go up for some homeowners, as some property values have gone up or have been reclassified.
The county approved a land exchange deal to acquire 3,618 acres about 10 miles northwest of Silver Bay. The county would give up 2,854 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the Superior National Forest. The county no longer has any land in the BWCAW.