ST. CLOUD - The first step in a plan to redevelop two blighted areas of town got the approval of the St. Cloud City Council. They approved the increase of a franchise fee for both Xcel Energy and Connexus Energy going from three percent to four percent during their meeting Monday night.

The additional revenue collected by the city will allow for the removal of a sub-station owned by Xcel Energy at the corner of Highway 23 and Cooper Avenue, as well as the burial of some utility lines along East St. Germain Street.

Council member Jeff Goerger says it's good to see some movement on those two abandoned areas.

We've been talking about these two sites for years, and if this is the way that we can actually finally get something to happen I think it's a great way.  And, it will be fairly painless for people.

The cost to remove the sub-station is estimated at $3.5 million. Xcel would then sell the land to a developer who already owns the rest of the property in that area, with the plan to create a mixed-use complex. The sub-station removal could take up to a year.

The burial of the utility lines along East St. Germain Street is expected to jump start a stalled-out plan to bring a Kwik Trip convenience store to that block.

The franchise fee increase will be in effect for seven years.

The fee was first established 50 years ago in 1967 when it was called a "right of way rental".