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State of the city: Development on the horizon in Newport

Development, business and tax base dominated Newport Mayor Dan Lund's state of the city address and town hall meeting Oct. 3.

Development in the city is mostly "infill" homes, Lund said, adding new houses on unoccupied lots. The largest residential project in the city is the proposed Catherine Drive development on 55 acres in the northeast end of the city.

Lund said these homes could really help the city tax base, which has been a challenge for the city the past few years.

"Newport homes are the fastest rising property value segment anywhere in the county," he said.

"And what that means is over the past three or four years Newport's homeowners have paid an ever-increasing share of the levy for the school district and the county ... it's tough," he said.

"We are working on new residential construction ... that will lower the burden of the city's taxes on the current homeowners. We're doing what we can to hold those increases as low as we can, but not likely to stop in the near term."

At least one new business will be added late this year to the new business park area at the former Raceway to Fun site. Meyer Distributing is the first tenant announced for the office and retail space currently under construction.

Other commercial sites in the city are being marketed, Lund said, but are not yet filled, including a Glen Road and Seventh Avenue site and a Hastings Avenue and Ford Road site.

City staff and the Park Board have also continued to work on increasing public access to the Mississippi River.

Most of the homes on Cedar Lane have been purchased by the city. Most of the sales will be reimbursed by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and the remaining 25 percent will be covered funded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the city.

"It's really a great deal for the city, we're really excited about it," Lund said. "It will be a wonderful opportunity for Newport to open up the river to its residents."

A town hall forum was held following Lund's address focused on business.

Resident Allie Boyd asked about how code enforcement could be improved, especially when it comes to city presentation from the highway.

"It's something need to do better on... ," Lund said. "The city council and planning commission are undertaking a complete review of the codes."

One resident asked what how the city planned to help current businesses in Newport that may be struggling.

Lund and City Administrator Deb Hill said there is a facade improvement program open to businesses in need of a facelift and business grant programs offered through the Washington County Community Development Agency that businesses can take advantage of.