Nancy Edmonds Hanson
Muscatell Inc. will begin construction next month on a 30,800-sq.-ft. building next to its Subaru dealership with the help of a five-year tax exemption approved Monday by the Moorhead City Council.
The new Muscatell Collision Center, estimated at a value of $3.3 million, was awarded the five-year, $264,000 exemption under the city’s commercial and industrial property tax incentive program. The structure, to be located at 1120 29th Ave. S., will house collision repair facilities as well as an in-house paint operation.
Economic development director Derrick LaPoint noted that Case Muscatell, who presented the plan to the council, represents the fourth generation of the Moorhead-based business, which continues to expand its operations in the city.
Bids awarded for northside levee
City engineer Bob Zimmerman updated Moorhead’s plans for continued flood mitigation on the north side of the city. The top priority, he told the council, is completion of levees in the area from 50th Avenue North to County Highway 22. The city board approved the engineering department’s amended plan as well as awarded bids for the work, which includes demolition of five acquired properties and construction of a levee to protect remaining houses.
Zimmerman noted that this brings the total investment since 2009 to $112.9 million, with $80 million from the state of Minnesota and $32 million paid by the city. A total of 268 properties have been acquired for flood mitigation, along voluntarily through negotiations with homeowners, along with 75 partial acquisitions and easements. The city has built a total of 12.1 miles of 44-foot levees and 45-foot floodwalls.
“Our principal goal has been protection of public infrastructure and property, followed by privately owned structures,” he noted. The city’s second goal has been to win FEMA accreditation for the protected areas by removing the properties from the floodplain – an achievement that lifts the requirement that private owners carry flood insurance.
“We have completed FEMA accreditation for all but one of the areas,” he reported, included the latest along Fifth Avenue South in May. The last remaining area waiting for accreditation is in the Riverview and River Oaks area, where all but one of the 17 owners of property along the planned levy have accepted buy-out offers.
Future of charter revision dims
Minnesota law prohibits cities from membership in private organizations, including chambers of commerce, without specific legal authorization. For Moorhead, that would require amending the city charter. But a controversial proposed measure to allow the city to join the chamber of commerce and other private organizations, debated this summer by both the Charter Commission and the council, appears headed for defeat after its first reading Monday.
Council members have voiced both support for and objections to the measure, some based on the chamber’s political advocacy, others citing the unknowns of opening the door to unspecified memberships in years to come.
Charter amendments require a unanimous vote by the group. On Monday, five yeses were met by members Rochelle Dahlquist and Heidi Durand’s no votes. The measure will come back for a second reading at the next meeting Sept. 10. Durand noted, “That gives members of the public time to approach those of us who oppose it with their reasons for its support.” She added, “Public engagement is always welcome.”