Aitkin Growth wants 40 acres shovel-ready

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

lndustrial development is something that is sorely lacking in Aitkin County, according to Mike Hagen of Aitkin Growth, a nonprofit economic development corporation which aims to improve quality of life through job creation, economic diversification and area development.

Of the 247.5 acres of land Aitkin Growth owns in Aitkin and Spencer townships, about 40 acres is potentially suitable for future development. Since developing the land for residential use is out of Aitkin Growth’s budget, the organization has shifted its focus to industrial development. “Our vision and mission is to have growth in Aitkin County,” Hagen said.

Economic Development and Forest lndustry Coordinator Ross Wagner brought an idea to the table during the Oct. 24 Aitkin County Board of Commissioners meeting. A discussion regarding the possible use of the land followed to guage the board’s interest in moving forward.

Although no formal request has been presented to the board yet, Wagner said essentially the request would be for the Trust for Public Land to purchase 207.5 acres of Mississippi River frontage at a market rate to be determined by the Trust for Public Land from Aitkin Growth and donate it to Aitkin County.

By accepting the donation, the county would commit to manage the property primarily for wildlife habitat and compatible outdoor recreation, including public hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. Permanent development such as a fishing pier, paved trails or a designated campground would not be permitted. However, minor improvements such as a small parking area would be allowed.

Aitkin Growth would retain the remaining 40 acres along with its weather road frontage, public utilities and high speed internet. Even though the 40 acres are suitable for development, currently they need work such as soil testing, site survey, an environmental assessment and more, Wagner said.

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