Reedsburg’s business park could become home to a new and growing industry approved by the state last year.
During it’s March 11 meeting, the council unanimously agreed to sell three acres of land on Greenway Court to Hempstation owner Dave Sullivan to construct an 8,400 square foot facility to process industrial hemp.
Sullivan, a North Freedom resident and former bacteriologist who started a probiotics company, hopes to start construction this summer. He decided to start growing industrial hemp as a way to keep busy in retirement and partake in a growing industry. He attempted to grow industrial hemp last year with another business partner and failed, but that didn’t stop him from finding another way to get involved.
“You read about the benefits of CBD and the benefits of growing the plant for the land,” Sullivan said in a follow-up interview. “It sounded like a good thing to do.”
He said the facility would contain used equipment to dry hemp seed “on an industrial scale” and provide another avenue for local farmers to dry hemp and gain advice on hemp growing. With the process of drying hemp, he said “location is everything” and the crop is lost if the seed is not harvested in 4-8 hours.
“We’re going to try to figure out how to dry hemp,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to try to find the right equipment to dry the seed properly, try to help farmers.”
Sullivan said he is figuring out other uses for the facility, including growing industrial hemp to produce cannabidiol oil, said to treat a variety of medical issues like join pain.
As a part of the agreement, the city will sell the three acres of land for $25,500. With 1.5 acres located in the wetlands, the city will have to apply for a wetlands permit from the Department of Natural Resources. Chairman of the Reedsburg Industrial and Development Commission Don Lichte said the development could increase the tax base by about $700,000.
The estimated annual tax revenue from the development is $20,400 per year starting in 2021. Estimated construction costs is $950,000. The city will provide $48,500 in upfront development costs using TIF 4 funds and will recoup the costs of development by 2023. As a security, the city will take out a mortgage against the land in the amount of the TIF to cover the development costs. Vierbicher Associates Community Development Consultant Kurt Muchow said about 1-4 jobs could be created depending on the needs of the facility.
The plan commission is scheduled to review site plans for the proposed facility at its March 12 regular meeting at city hall.
Muchow said the agreement was good to “diversity the local economy.”
“This will certainly help do this but it will also help area growers, farmers to be able to have the option of growing industrial hemp and help them dry their seed or whatever services they need,” Muchow said.
The council gave the OK for the Reedsburg Area Industrial Commission and Vierbicher Associates to pursue amending one of its TID districts to include additional land for potential expansion.
The expansion will include three vacant parcels of land, behind and east of the Pizza Ranch strip mall, between the Eastridge Subdivision and the Courtyards. TIF 9 was created in 2016 to provide industrial land use, workforce housing and Main Street corridor improvements.
Muchow said the plan commission will plan project and boundary amendments to bring back to the council for further review. The item is scheduled to go to the plan commission for review at its April 9 meeting and return to the council’s desk at its June 10 regular meeting.
New police chief
Patrick Cummings was sworn in as Reedsburg’s new police chief. The 16-year veteran was appointed to the position by the Reedsburg Police and Fire Commission on Feb 15. After he took the oath of office, Cummings thanked the members of the police department, city staff and family for their support. City Administrator Tim Becker was recognized for 13 years of service as police chief.
The council unanimously approved a proposal with Associated Appraisal for $185,000 and to use funds from the Community Development Block Grant close program to cover the expense. Assessing of homes is scheduled to start in October 2019 and take effect in the 2021 tax roll, said Finance Director and City Clerk/Treasurer Jacob Crosetto.
The council unanimously approved the transfer of $270,000 worth of donated funds from the City Rescue Fund to the Reedsburg Rescue Fund to help with the purchase of equipment and fund fire department activities. The Reedsburg Rescue Fund is in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 charitable organization.
The council appointed Bill Finnegan to the ambulance board and Patrick Andera to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Reedsburg Area Development Committee.