TOWER— In a short special meeting on Monday, the city council here passed two resolutions designed to eliminate a number of deed restrictions that city officials had erroneously placed on city …
TOWER— In a short special meeting on Monday, the city council here passed two resolutions designed to eliminate a number of deed restrictions that city officials had erroneously placed on city lands around the harbor between 2006 and 2014. The restrictions, related to infrastructure funding from two state agencies, were among a number of issues preventing completion of a new plat for the harbor area for the past three years. That plat still remains unfinished, and city officials had no timeline available this week for when it might be done.
Attorney Joel Lewicki, who has been handling the process of finalizing the plat, told members of the council that state officials had determined that the city had “over-restricted” some of the lands within the plat by allowing multiple deed restrictions to be put in place. To clear that up, Lewicki said the restrictions had to be lifted, then new, more limited, restrictions had to be put back in place. “What this really is doing is cleaning up a lot of things that were done in the past,” said Lewicki.
The council approved a lengthy resolution intended to complete that task, although it’s unclear whether the latest action will ultimately lead to new development that the city has hoped to see around the harbor.
City officials had signed a development agreement for a town home project at the harbor back in early 2016, but the numerous deed restrictions and other issues surrounding the property have prevented the city from providing clear title to the developers. The delay has left the town home project on life support, raising doubts about how, or in what form, the project might go forward.
Clerk-treasurer Victoria Ranua noted that entire process was handled in a backward order. “Typically, before land is sold, you clear up the title,” she said. “This should probably have been done before this.”
Mayor Orlyn Kringstad agreed. “This has been a long time in coming,” he said.
It appears that neither party to the development agreement understood that the city lacked clear title to the property that was slated for the town homes. The lack of clear title has prevented the developers from offering purchase agreements to prospective town home purchasers for the past four years, putting the project at serious risk.
In other action, the council approved a letter of support for a grant request that the Tower Economic Development Authority is making to the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation to support area businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.