Posted on

Colby OKs lease with farmer for city land

Colby’s city council approved a lease last week that will allow a local farmer to continue planting and harvesting crops for the next three years on 36 acres of land the city purchased for development.

The lease agreement approved at the April 6 council meeting is between the city and Harold K. Christensen, Jr., who had been leasing the land from the previous owner, Audrey Venzke.

Last summer, the city paid $298,000 to buy Venzke’s land on the east side of Highway 13 in order to extend Community Drive to the north and sell off parts of the parcel to potential developers.

According to the terms of the lease, which expires at the end of 2023, Christensen will be able to continue farming the land east of where Community Drive will be extended.

“No construction or development shall occur on the farmland located on the east side of ‘Community Drive’ during the term of the lease,” it states.

This will leave the land directly adjacent to Highway 13 open for development.

If any portion of the farmland is sold to a third party, the city would be obligated to reimburse Christensen for the “fair market of the planted crop” on those acres. The lease also states that the city will make efforts to “avoid or minimize crop loss.”

Christensen will not be required to pay the city rent during the term of the lease.

Before the council approved the lease, Ald. Dan Hederer asked if city officials had been doing anything to sell part of the land to developers.

“We have quite a bit of money invested in this land,” he said. “It would be nice if we could get a business or something else done with the property.”

City clerk Connie Gurtner said the city has been talking to “one interested party,” but she did not offer any further details.

In a related matter, the council authorized Central Fire and EMS to do training with smoke machines at the vacant house on the Venzke land.

Mayor Jim Schmidt said all of the appliances were left behind in the house, but there isn’t much of significant value still there, aside from a couple of newer garage doors. Electrical and water service has been shut off.

“To me, it’s not even worth trying to rent it out,” Schmidt said.

Other business

_ The council approved the purchase of a new PipeHunter brand trailer jetter for $60,825 from Envirotech Equipment.

_ The council adopted a resolution calling on the legislature to pass a budget that includes an increase in shared revenue for municipalities. The resolution points out that state aid for municipalities has been cut by a total of $94 million over the past 20 years.

_ Resident Mike Kreciak spoke to the council again about his neighbors’ dogs being loose. He called on council members to pass a motion to remove the dogs from the city and prevent his neighbors from owning any other dogs.

_ Gurtner told the council that more election inspectors need to be recruited before the next election cycle.

_ Ald. Tammy Solberg said her family plans on selling their house in Colby later this month, so a new person will need to be appointed to represent Ward 4.