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Sartell City Council approves 1st permit for Verso demolition

SARTELL (AP) — The landscape in a small central Minnesota town is about to change.

The new owners of the former Verso Paper mill have obtained their first permit to begin demolishing the mill and related buildings that have been shut down since May 2012 when an explosion and fire killed a man and caused an estimated $50 million in damage.

Verso said the cost of repairs was prohibitive, especially considering dwindling demand for the coated magazine paper the mill had produced.

AIM Development purchased the plant last January with plans to disassemble it.

The Sartell City Council issued Thursday an interim use permit to demolish the mill, work that is expected to take 15 months to complete. The company still needs to get a demolition permit.

AIM Development will demolish more than 530,000 square feet of buildings that straddle the Mississippi River in Sartell, a community near St. Cloud. The only buildings that will remain are the office building, hydroelectric operations and a warehouse.

The St. Cloud Times ( reported the company plans to recycle 95 percent of the materials. Interior work has already started at the site, according to the company. Asbestos is being removed and other work has occurred inside the buildings.

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Division cited Verso Paper with two serious violations following the fatal explosion and fire.