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Goodbye old barns, hello new development?

People headed into Perham from Highway 10 could be seeing a much different view of the fairgrounds in the future, if the city goes ahead with a plan to sell property to a commercial developer.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting last week, city officials talked about selling off a 1.14-acres parcel of land where the old cattle barns now stand.

The parcel contains about 357 feet of frontage along 3rd Ave. SE, between Lakes Area Cooperative and the parking lot north of Knutilla Financial.

It has an estimated asking price of $150,000, minimum.

"This concept has been kicked around for many years," said City Manager Kelcey Klemm.

But the timing now seems ripe.

The Fair Board is currently in the process of designing and seeking quotes on a new cattle barn, and intends to build a new facility, which could be located elsewhere on the fairgrounds. The parcel was also included in the city's most recently-established Tax Increment Financing district, making it more appealing to potential developers.

It was mentioned at the meeting that a developer has expressed interest in the property, though it would be premature to say anything definitive and no details were divulged.

In a letter to city councilors, Klemm said the parcel was drawn with feedback from the Perham Athletic Association and East Otter Tail County Fair Board to ensure that the new property lines wouldn't encroach on any fair or baseball activities.

Currently, the city has full control over the property. If councilors decide to sell it, they could choose to add some provisions to the sale. For example, they could restrict the property's usage.

Klemm said city leaders may want to stipulate that the land not be used for something like a tobacco shop or meat processing plant, which would be inappropriate for the property's family-friendly location near the ball park, fairgrounds and Perham Area Community Center.

The Perham Planning Commission is expected to review the proposal at its December meeting; city councilors could act on it as soon as January.