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Land returned: Willmar City Council OKs vacating roadway for Jennie-O project

WILLMAR — Land granted by Jennie-O Turkey Store and land granted by the city for construction of former state Highway 40 will revert back to Jennie-O and will revert back to the city under action taken this week by the Willmar City Council.

The council voted to vacate a portion of the former state highway, now known as Industrial Drive Southwest. The vacated portion is located between the new intersection with Willmar Avenue Southwest and the Hoting property, which is the house on the corner of County Road 5.

Council member Rick Fagerlie made the motion, seconded by Bruce DeBlieck, to approve the vacation. Voting in favor were Fagerlie, DeBlieck, Audrey Nelsen, Steve Ahmann, Denis Anderson, Jim Dokken and Tim Johnson. Ron Christianson was absent.

Both Jennie-O and the city granted easements to the state for the Highway 40 right-of-way. The city now has jurisdiction over the roadway because the state turned that portion of Highway 40 over to the city a number of years ago.

About 2.07 acres of land located south of the roadway centerline will revert back to Jennie-O and a larger portion located north of the roadway centerline will revert back to the city.

The roadway vacation was recommended by Planning and Development Services Director Bruce Peterson to provide land for Jennie-O’s proposed office and plant expansion project. He said Jennie-O is proposing to expand where the roadway right-of-way is located.

During a public hearing Monday night, Peterson said the roadway vacation is something that has been anticipated for a long time and is the reason the city rerouted Willmar Avenue Southwest through the industrial park to better serve the entire property.

Peterson said there is no conveyance of property or transfer of property and he recommended the council approve the vacation.

“They are simply vacating the right-of-way that exists,’’ he said.

The council received no comments during the hearing from any of the nearly two dozen people attending the meeting.

During council discussion, Ahmann asked Peterson how the value of the land being vacated would be quantified.

Peterson said no property is changing hands.

“This does not convey any interest of any city property to Jennie-O Turkey Store,’’ he said. “It simply eliminates the easement right-of-way across Jennie-O Turkey Store property.’’

Ahmann said that as progress continues with the Jennie-O development, which he said he supports, that the process will include sitting down and discussing current land values for either party.

Peterson said this right-of-way vacation has nothing to do with property value.

“If there is any conveyance of property in the future, that’s the point at which the value question will be addressed.’’

“And that’s when it will probably be addressed,’’ added Ahmann. “Let’s hope it will be addressed as far as their developing that property.’’

“It absolutely has to be,’’ said Peterson. “The city needs to recognize the value of any property that’s being conveyed.’’

DeBlieck said the roadbed will be removed and there will be no traffic there, resulting in a T-intersection of Highway 40 coming from the west and County Road 5. DeBlieck asked if the intersection will have one stop sign or other traffic controls.

Peterson said the concern was brought to the Community Development Committee, and he said city staff will discuss with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Kandiyohi County whether additional signals are warranted.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150