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The La Crescent City Council on Monday voted in favor of a preliminary development agreement for a project that could see 75 homes built on the racetrack property off County Highway 6.

The agreement is between the city and Bluff Country LLC, which has a La Crescent address and is led by Mike Sexauer, the CEO of building supply company Badger Corrugating of La Crosse.

City administrator Bill Waller said the agreement would see the city spend an estimated $265,000 on infrastructure work to prepare the 89-acre site for the development. In return, it’s estimated the development will generate $340,000 in building permit fees and $285,000 in property taxes a year, using 2018 tax rates.

The $285,000 would be split between the La Crescent-Hokah School District, Houston County and La Crescent, with the city’s portion expected to be around $115,000.

As part of the agreement, the developer will pay $100,000 of the cost to design and build an access road and utilities running off County Highway 6 with the city paying the remainder. The city would cover the estimated $100,000 cost of water infrastructure to the site, with the developer agreeing to pay $65,000 toward the cost of a lift station. Although the various infrastructure projects have yet to be put out to bid, Waller has estimated the total cost to the city will be around $285,000.

A number of residents who live close to the proposed site attended Monday’s council meeting and expressed concern about the possibility of increased traffic and crime they believe the new development could bring to the area. They also expressed concern about whether their properties will be annexed by the city.

Waller said that although the racetrack property has been annexed, others along County Highway 6 have not. The council is planning to only annex properties that petition the city to be annexed. However, that could change after 10 years, when the council is proposing to forcibly annex properties that have not chosen to join the city.

Properties that are annexed must pay to be connected to city water and sewer, which was another source of concern for some residents who are not part of the city that attended Monday’s meeting.

Council member Dale Williams said residents with concerns or questions should come to the city with their questions rather than listen to rumors about the city’s plans. A special council meeting was planned for Thursday evening after the Houston County News deadline to provide information to the public about plans for running city sewer and water along County Highway 6.

Council member Bernie Buehler said at Monday’s meeting that the Racetrack property presented a rare chance for the city to expand.

“If we are going to keep growing as a community and attracting young families this is a good opportunity because we’re landlocked and we don’t have much choice,” he said.

The racetrack property is located just off County Highway 6 behind Wieser Memorial Park in Crescent Valley and is owned by a family trust formed by William and Delores Cornforth. Sexauer has a contract to purchase the property. One of the conditions of the deal was that he secured a preliminary development agreement with the city by March 1.

A site plan for the development will still have to be approved by the city’s plan commission and council but city officials said the preliminary agreement sets out the basic parameters of the project. Sexauer said last month that his preliminary plan for the project calls for the construction of 75 housing units on the site and could also include an apartment building with 42 units.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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