Coon Rapids purchases nonconforming lot for park

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority has approved the purchase of one of three vacant, nonconforming single-family homes in an area north of Main Street adjacent to Bison Creek Park.

In July, the authority, which comprises the seven members of the Coon Rapids City Council, directed staff to work with the Twin Cities Community Land Bank in negotiating purchases of the properties at 2285 Main St. and 2335 Main St. and to work with the seller at 2245 Main St. to negotiate a purchase agreement.

All three properties are designated for park, recreation and open space use in the city’s comprehensive plan and zoned conservancy district.

According to Matt Brown, community development specialist, residential uses are not permitted in the conservancy district, making the properties nonconforming.

Brown was back before the authority Sept. 3 with a purchase agreement for the one-acre property at 2285 Main St., which has been vacant for the past six months.

“It is in generally poor condition and because city sewer and water are unavailable at this location, the property relies on well and septic systems,” Brown told the council.

An inspection report for the septic system showed that it is non-compliant and would need to be replaced if the house was reoccupied, the deficiencies being related to the original installation, not to a leak or soil contamination, according to Brown.

Following a study a few years ago, the council decided that the cost of extending sewer and water to the area was excessive and opted not to have the utilities installed, Brown wrote in a report to the authority.

Staff proposes acquiring the property, demolishing the home and incorporating the property into the adjacent Bison Creek Park, he wrote.

The cost to purchase the property is $95,000, which will come out of the authority’s budget. The property had been listed at $104,000, but the authority had set a spending cap of $100,000 on the purchase of the property, Brown wrote.

The 2245 Main St. home has been unoccupied for several years,  meaning that it cannot be occupied as a residential home anymore under state law, he said.

The property of some five acres is owned by Shamrock Development, with whom the housing and redevelopment authority is negotiating, Brown said.

But there may be a buyer for the home at 2335 Main St., which has gone through foreclosure and has been vacant for less than a year, Brown said.

“There has been an offer from someone else,” he said.

According to Brown, staff has worked with the land bank in the past to negotiate the purchase of the bank-owned properties because quick reaction is needed when they become available and it is often difficult for staff to use its conventional method of negotiating purchase agreements.

The land bank negotiates directly with the seller with the direction of city staff and when it acquires the property, the land bank immediately sells it to the city.

There are two parcels which lie between 2335 and 2285 Main St.

Community Development Director Marc Nevinski said 2321 was acquired by Anoka County for a storm water retention pond as part of the Main Street reconstruction project, while 2309 has a single-family home that is under private ownership.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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