City Council OKs annexing the land Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to purchase

LITCHFIELD -- Land east of Litchfield that includes about 20 acres Wal-Mart is eyeing for a new store was approved for annexation Monday by the City Council.

LITCHFIELD -- Land east of Litchfield that includes about 20 acres Wal-Mart is eyeing for a new store was approved for annexation Monday by the City Council.

The state also will need to approve the annexation and it plans to address it April 6, city administrator Bruce Miller said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a purchase agreement for about 20 acres of the land. The company likely won't finalize the sale until it has received all necessary government approvals, said Susan Steinwall, a Minneapolis attorney representing Wal-Mart.

The land will need to be re-zoned because it comes into the city as residential land. The council would also need to approve Wal-Mart's preliminary and final plats, and the store may require a special use permit if builds a gas station on the site, Steinwall said.

The city and Wal-Mart have been discussing how the store will pay for water and sewer extensions and streets for the development.


The land approved for annexation Monday also includes parcels owned by Meeker County, which plans to build a public works building, and other landowners. The city engineer estimates the city will need to build $2 million in infrastructure to serve the incoming land.

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay for a road that would connect to U.S. Highway 12 and run north-south along the store, a frontage road that would be in front of the store, a water main, a force main and lift station, turn lanes and a signal on Highway 12, and storm water ponds, Miller said.

The amount Wal-Mart will end up paying for those improvements won't be known until bids come in, Miller said.

The assessments for the rest of the properties benefiting from infrastructure improvements hasn't been determined. The city will bond for part of the project, but won't know how much to bond until Wal-Mart decides whether it will pay the infrastructure costs up front or be assessed for the work, Miller said.

The city expects the work to start in late summer, Miller said.

Wal-Mart is planning to build a Supercenter store. Supercenter stores have discount and grocery departments and sometimes include gas stations, eye care centers, tire and lube shops and photo processing.

Steinwall said she doesn't know when Wal-Mart would start building if the store is approved.

It would be the third new Supercenter in the area.


Wal-Mart is also planning to build Supercenter stores in Willmar and Montevideo. Hutchinson, which is 25 miles southeast of Litchfield, already has a Supercenter.

Council reverses decision on opera house sale

The council readdressed its decision not to sell its old city hall, which was built as an opera house in 1900.

Councilwoman Danielle Rodgers asked for the council to reconsider the resolution the council rejected at its March 6 meeting because she said there was some confusion about what they were voting on. Rodgers had voted against selling the opera house in the 4-3 vote.

Councilwoman Connie Lies seconded her motion and a lengthy discussion about the procedure for reconsidering a resolution and reasons why ensued.

Council members can make a motion to reconsider a resolution if they were on the prevailing side of the vote. If the council decides to reconsider it, it then votes on the original resolution.

Council members Barb Altringer and Peter Kormanik and Mayor Vern Madson expressed discomfort with voting on something that was added to the agenda after it was printed. The item was on the "additional items" agenda that is made available at the meeting.

Lies said the motion can be made at any time and doesn't need to be on the agenda.


Altringer said she had planned to bring the issue back to the council after doing some research. She said she didn't approve the resolution on March 6 because it said the details of the sale would be worked out with the city attorney later. She would have liked a resolution that included specific requirements for the buyer and a minimum price. Kormanik agreed.

Lies said that information would be included in an ordinance the city would need to approve before putting the building up for bids. A public hearing would also need to be held, she said.

The council voted 4-3 to reconsider the resolution with Lies, Rodgers, Councilman Larry Dahl and Councilman Gary Walz voting for it and Altringer, Kormanik and Madson voting against it.

After more discussion, the council voted 4-3 to sell the opera house. Rodgers, Lies, Dahl and Walz voted for the resolution while Altringer, Madson and Kormanik opposed it.

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