The Role of City Government in Private Business
ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- On Wednesday we learned the former Burger King property that has stood vacant on St. Cloud's east side is getting redeveloped.
That sparked hundreds of comments and strong opinions from people on social media. Some commenters wanted to know who is approving the new businesses coming to town, and why can't the city just reject them. Mayor Dave Kleis explains why the city can't do that.
That would be unconstitutional. That would violate all kinds of state and federal laws.
Kleis says as long as the business meets the criteria for the property that it is zoned for like in a commercial district, a private investor has every right to build what they want.
Another commenter called for a five-year moratorium on certain businesses. Kleis says that too would be unconstitutional.
You can't say we have enough restaurants, for example, or groceries stores. In fact, depending on where you are some would say we don't have enough.
Kleis says companies do a lot of market research before they decided to open a new business or location, to make sure the market can handle it.
Many people gave their suggestions on what they would like to see come to town from chain restaurants to grocery stories, and more. One commenter said, "Put in something we need".
Kleis says what does - and doesn't - come to town is not up to the city.
The city doesn't own any of those places. I always tell people as a private citizen if you think you want something a lot of those are franchises you could start that franchise as an individual.
Kleis also suggests if you feel strongly about a certain company coming to town that you reach out to them directly and ask them about their expansion plans.
As for the often-mentioned, and long-rumored, idea that Coborn's Incorporated has a deal to keep all other grocery stores out of the community, Kleis says that is, "absolutely and unequivocally not true." He says in fact the city was sued by - in part - Coborn's when Costco came to town.
You could argue there are more grocery options in St. Cloud than there have ever been with Costco, Walmart, Target, Aldi, Fresh Thyme, and Kwik Trip all selling groceries, among others.
As for a piece of property on a high-profile intersection getting redeveloped, Kleis says there's no downside.
Absolutely, any vacant property its always good to have somebody that's willing to put their own money and investment into it, that goes back to the community.
Kleis says the economic development board is always looking for ways to attract new business to town, but private companies have the final say.
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