Infrastructure grant declined after land purchase

PRINCETON – The Princeton City Council agreed at its Nov. 10 meeting to refuse a $685,500 transportation economic development grant it had received from the state to install water-sewer infrastructure to a proposed 200-acre industrial development.
The city is turning down the grant because the 200-acre site has been sold to an owner who does not plan to develop it. The acreage sits west of the city, south of Highway 95 and west of County Road 31, and the grant would have offset the cost of assessments paid by developers of the land.
The acreage was slated at one time to become a 500-unit housing development. In 2015, its owners endeavored to attract a data storage center, or “server-farm,” to the site and requested that the city rezone the property as industrial. The city rezoned the land, though the action was controversial to residents in Princeton Township who did not want the data center or industrial businesses as a neighbor.
If used, the grant money would have had to be spent on specific aspects of economic development, but now there is no land to potentially develop. Though there is a possibility that the city could purchase an adjacent 40-acre site and use the grant money to install infrastructure there, nobody seemed enthusiastic about doing that.
Everyone agreed when Community Development Director Jolene Foss said it was too big a risk to taxpayers for the city to buy land and install infrastructure when there are no development prospects for the site and no developers interested in it.