City changes zoning of former recycling site

The former recycling site.

The Princeton City Council agreed to change the zoning of a half-acre piece of land at 907 Second St. S. in Princeton from R3 multifamily residential to an essential services, or ES, overlay district, with the intent that the Princeton Public Utilities will use it for outdoor storage of transformers and other equipment.
According to the council documents, Princeton Public Utilities plans to erect a fence and screening around the site.
The status of the property has been in question for more than a year after the city discovered that zoning for the site didn’t match its use as a Mille Lacs County recycling site. Bins remained on the lot and neighbors complained about blowing trash, noise and safety in a residential neighborhood. Princeton informed the county its use on the city-owned land was not compliant with zoning ordinances.
The county could have kept the recycling site at the location by applying for a conditional use permit, which would have required adding a fence, screening and other elements. While the permit fee was $250, the changes to the site could have cost up to $20,000.
Mille Lacs County is required to provide at least one recycling site in the county, but Princeton was one of many. County commissioners also observed that residents in the city limits have recycling options through their garbage haulers. The County Board decided it was more economical to move the operation to Long Siding near the Princeton Township Hall west of Highway 169 on 55th Street.
The Princeton site has been a tax-forfeited property since 2001 and been marketed for sale with no success. It had been a recycling site for about 10 years. Part of the probable reason no buyer showed interest is the approximately $30,000 owed on the property for special assessments from past public improvements made on Second Street and 10th Avenue South.
City officials said Princeton had held a public meeting about the proposed essential services use at the site. Neighbors from an adjacent townhome association who had complained about the recycling site attended the meeting and expressed approval for the new use.