Hours of comments during Beltrami County’s public hearing on proposed jail site

The Beltrami County Board heard hours of comments in their public hearing on the proposed jail site.

Administrator Tom Barry gave a brief presentation to address some concerns raised at the last meeting, such as the $108,000 assessed value of the Wiebolt property and the $540,000 pending sale with the county.

Barry explained that the assessed value for a residential site with no buildings or infrastructure is fairly low, but the purchase for a commercial use like a jail requires following the market.

Neighborhood resident Alyssa Carlson spoke on a lack of public participation in the site selection process, citing a reference from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Another resident, Rochelle Johnson, took issue with the location so far away from services downtown.

Virtually all comments urged the board to rescind their vote and begin the site selection process again.

The 242-bed facility is expected to cost $80 million to construct, with the sale of the Wiebolt property on Jefferson Avenue expected to be finalized in August, on a conditional purchase agreement.

The property is currently zoned for light residential use, and a jail construction there would require either a conditional use permit or rezoning the parcel.

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