Willmar City Council OKs land rental rate for Pennock farmer
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has approved a negotiated rental rate with Dan Groothuis of Pennock that will exempt him from the process in which farmers bid for the right to farm 11 parcels of land obtained by the city through eminent domai...
WILLMAR - The Willmar City Council has approved a negotiated rental rate with Dan Groothuis of Pennock that will exempt him from the process in which farmers bid for the right to farm 11 parcels of land obtained by the city through eminent domain in 2004 for the airport and airport clear zones.
The city takes bids every four years from farmers interested in farming the parcels around the airport. Bids will be opened this fall for another round of four-year rental agreements.
The 11 parcels include a 68-acre piece formerly owned by Groothuis and now owned by the city. The piece was intended for possibly extending the runway after the airport opened in the fall of 2006.
However, the city has yet to extend the runway. Groothuis said he needs the pie-shaped parcel in order to more easily farm his two adjacent parcels.
In an offer to the Finance Committee August 25, Groothuis proposed paying a rate equal to an average of rental bids on all 11 parcels plus $20 per acre per year.
However, the committee recommended and the council decided Groothuis will pay a rental rate equal to the six highest parcel rents received by the city plus $20 per acre for a four-year period.
Before Tuesday night’s action, the council had twice denied requests by Groothuis to negotiate a rental rate and did not change the land rental procedure.
Councilman Denis Anderson, who is Finance Committee chairman, clarified that the parcel is unique. “He farms parcels on both sides of it and it makes it difficult if he doesn’t have that piece.’’
Councilman Rick Fagerlie said the city took the parcel for future runway.
“He wasn’t happy about giving it up even though we paid a fair market price for it,’’ Fagerlie said. During the last four years, said Fagerlie, someone else got the bid to farm it and Groothuis rented it back from the successful bidder.
“I think it’s fair to let him farm his former land,’’ Fagerlie said.
“It’s a reasonable compromise to see how it works,’’ Anderson added.