Hopes are still alive for residents concerned about the fate of tax-forfeited property on Camp Lincoln Road in Nisswa after the land remained unsold in Friday's county land sale.
The property, consisting of three contiguous tracts of forested land zoned as public recreation by city officials, is located across the street from Lake Hubert on the designated scenic route winding its way to the east of Hole-in-the-Day Lake. The Crow Wing County Board voted June 25 to move forward with the sale, despite objections from city officials and area residents.
Although it did not sell Friday, June 28, the land remains available for sale over the counter to potential buyers. But County Administrator Tim Houle said because it remained unsold during the formal auction, the door was opened for further negotiations with the city of Nisswa and other interested parties to seek a resolution. Houle said he spoke with Nisswa City Administrator Jenny Max at the sale and informed her of the county's intent to continue discussions on the property. As a public entity, the city could buy the land at a price below market value-even $1.
"Our staff is going to reach out to the city of Nisswa and see if the city has any interest in acquiring the land," Houle said Tuesday, July 2, by phone. "...Nothing is off the table at this point. We're going to have a completely open conversation with the city of Nisswa about what options there are."
Max was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Neighbors first expressed worries about what might happen to the land in 2017, when the county first informed the city of its intentions to reclassify the tax-forfeited property in preparation to sell it.
Don and Mickie Deline are two of the Camp Lincoln Road residents who are passionate about preserving the land across the street from their Lake Hubert property. Don Deline spoke publicly on behalf of the property at a 2017 Nisswa City Council meeting.
In an interview last week, Deline said he thinks the property should become a conservatory of some kind, given its proximity to Hole-in-the-Day Lake and its longstanding history as a natural environment used by migrating wildlife and enjoyed by neighbors and visitors.
"If we keep taking some of the beautiful places we've got here in Minnesota and turning them into residential districts, people aren't going to visit the lake country up here," Deline said June 25. "They can see the same thing in Edina and they can go farther north to Lake of the Woods. They'll skip right past us."
It's possible someone could purchase the land but because of the zoning on the property, building on those tracts would not be permitted. This, Land Services Director Gary Griffin said June 25, would be made clear to any potential buyers of the tracts. The tracts remain posted for sale at the price originally set by the county board-a price likely higher than it would be if the non-buildable zoning were taken into account.
The fact the land is currently zoned in a manner that wouldn't allow building doesn't reassure Deline, who said new city council members and the right proposal could flip the city's promise to preserve it as public recreation land on its head. In an email Monday, Deline said he was in the process of trying to find an organization that could help preserve the property.