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Paynesville Press - July 7, 2004

City approves new development

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, June 30.

*The council approved granting a variance allowing developers to plat three lots in Ridgeview Sixth Addition that do not meet the city's minimum frontage requirement of 75 feet. After holding a public hearing, the city determined that the total square feet of the irregularly shaped lots would still allow building homes while meeting setback requirements.

*The council also approved the final plat for Ridgeview Sixth Addition, a 12-lot development south of Highway 55. The council ordered a engineer's report for the development and engineering plans and specifications.

*The council heard a verbal report from city engineer Pete Carlson regarding the street improvement project. Railroad Street and Lake Avenue have received a first layer of asphalt with the last layer being placed on these streets next spring.

Street grading on Hudson Street and on Belmont Street is finished, and curb and gutter could begin on Wednesday, said Carlson. While curb and gutter work is being done, residents will not be able to use their driveways until the concrete sets.

*The council approved transfers to the 2004 capital improvement fund for the 2004 street improvement project: $128,000 from the street capital improvement fund; $47,000 from the sidewalk capital improvement fund; $55,000 from the liquor fund; $45,000 from the liquor capital improvement fund; $12,800 from the park capital improvement fund; $10,000 from the administration capital improvement fund; $10,000 from the motor vehicle capital improvement fund; and $5,000 from the building inspection capital improvement fund. Excess reserves from these funds were earmarked for the street improvement project so the city only needed to bond $990,000 for the project.

*The council approved hiring Development Services, Inc. - for $5,000 plus mileage and copies - to apply for a Small Cities Development Grant. This state grant could provide loans to homeowners (which are forgivable) and business owners to upgrade their properties. Although it is unknown how much grant money the city will apply for, city administrator Steve Helget knows other cities that have received over $1 million.

If the city gets the grant, officials want to concentrate improvements on downtown businesses and to homes along Highway 23. Improvements could include exterior as well as interior, with any improvement that would raise the value of a property qualifying, according to Helget.

Before the city can apply for the grant, homeowners will be asked to complete a survey, including financial information. About 60 percent of the surveys will need to be completed by the end of July, according to Helget. Because 60 percent is relatively high, he suggested using incentives to encourage residents to return the surveys. Another option, according to mayor Jeff Thompson, could be to hire someone to go door-to-door to assist with the surveys and collect them.

According to Helget, renovating homes and businesses in Paynesville would help the city by making it more attractive - which could attract more residents and businesses - and by increasing the tax base.

*The council heard a report from Helget regarding a possible loss of Local Government Aid in 2005.

Because of an error in wording in legislation written in 2003, many Minnesota cities, including Paynesville, stand to receive cuts in aid from the state while others would receive increases unless the wording is amended during a legislative session. Under current legislation, Paynesville, which expected to receive $518,890 in Local Government Aid in 2005, will receive only $446,170 in 2005. The city received $474,560 in aid in 2003 and 2004.

*The council denied - by a 4-1 vote - a street vacation request from Willie Scheel in Wil-Glo Acres. Scheel requested that three streets, which were platted but not developed, be vacated by the city so he could sell the property.

However, Larry Thielen, who owns property near the development, argued that if one street is vacated, he will lose access to his property.

Currently, Thielen is using a driveway that is not part of the street in question, according to Scheel. Theilen believes the driveway is on the platted street right-of-way and that Scheel's surveys are wrong.

During a public hearing, two neighborhood residents urged the council to wait until the new Highway 23 route was determined before vacating the streets, as the recommended route would follow one of them. According to one resident, it would make more sense to keep the property, and later sell it to the state for the highway than to release it to Scheel, who could later sell it to the state.

After hearing from Jeff Bertram, chairman of the planning committee - who recommended the street vacation - the council determined that the issue was actually a border dispute and recommended Sheel and Theilen resolve their differences before pursuing any further action from the city.

Council members Dave Peschong, Jean Soine, Thompson, and Dennis Zimmerman voted to deny the street vacation while council member Harlan Beek voted for it.

*The council approved participating in the Minnesota Urban and Rural Homesteading Program, a Tri-Cap program that purchases and repairs homes that need rehabilitation, then sells them to people who are considered "at risk" buyers (low income, credit risks, etc.). Tri-Cap hopes to renovate four to five homes in Paynesville with the city donating $1,000 per home for repairs. Money for the project will come from the city's EDAP fund.

*The city approved the following appointments to the ad-hoc committee for the Krueger Lake Nature Preserve: Harlan Beek, who will represent the Paynesville City Council; Nancy Ellis; Jeff Haas; Mary Hahn; Julie Hemen; Tom Koshiol; Adrian Louis; Ron Mergen, public works director; Aaron Meyer, of the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District; Tracey Piepenberg; Jay Thompson; and John Wimmer.

*The council appointed Todd Burlingame, the new superintendent of Paynesville Area Schools, to replace retiring superintendent Howard Caldwell on the EDAP board. The council also recognized Caldwell for his 15 years of service, in all, on the Human Rights Commission and the EDAP board.

*The council approved using Multi Service, a credit card processing company, to process credit card payments for fuel purchases at the Paynesville Municipal Airport. All fuel sales there will be self-service credit card purchases.

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