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Paynesville Press - September 29, 2004

City wraps-up street improvement project

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

*The council approved a final cost summary for the 2004 street improvement project. The final cost of the project should be $1,230,490. The city will pay $800,120 for the project, and the remaining $430,370 will be paid by residents on the affected streets in the form of special assessments.

*The council set a final public hearing for assessments for the street improvement project on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.

The final assessment estimates, according to city engineer Pete Carlson, for residents on streets that were rebuilt will be $43.82 per foot of frontage property. The estimated assessment for sanitary sewer service will be $800 per service. The estimated assessment for water mains will be $900 per service. The estimated assessments for streets that were overlayed will be $5.87 per foot of frontage property. And the estimated assessments for improvements on Service Road will be $52.09 per foot of frontage property. Affected landowners should already have received a list of preliminary assessment amounts.

*The council approved applying for a Small Cities Development Grant through the state. The grant could provide up to $1.4 million to refurbish homes and businesses in selected areas of the city.

According to Paul Olson, a consultant assisting the city with the grant application, after completing a survey of areas targeted for grant money, 98 houses, 26 commercial buildings, and 10 mixed-use buildings (buildings with commercial space and attached living quarters) were found to be in poor condition and suitable for rehabilitation. Olson told the council that he believes the survey will help the city receive grant money.

*The council also approved a contribution of 10 percent of the total grant amount from the EDAP revolving loan fund to be used in the form of low-interest loans. According to Olson, if the city provides matching funds, the chances of being awarded the grant will be greater. Also, in the case of commercial grants, it would also be beneficial if the recipients contributed some of their own money toward refurbishing their businesses.

*The council also approved identifying downtown Paynesville as a "slum and blight" area of the city. This designation was needed for the grant money, and grant money will be targeted in the downtown area.

*The council heard a verbal report from public works director Ron Mergen concerning the proposed Kruger Lake Nature Preserve. The city has the opportunity to purchase 119 acres of property east of Paynesville from Mary Hahn. Hahn has stipulated that if the city buys the property, it must be restored to its natural state and not used for development.

The city was recently awarded a DNR grant for $100,000, about half of the purchase price.

According to Mergen, if the city was to restore the property, tiling in one area would need to be removed to restore a wetland. The city considered wetland banking, a program that allows property owners to drain a wetland if they create two more elsewhere, to help pay for the wetland restoration.

Hahn, however, does not approve of the wetland banking program and plans to put the property into a conservation easement which would not allow it to participate in wetland banking.

Restoring the wetland could be the most costly part of restoring the property, said Mergen. If wetland banking is not an option, the city could still participate in other programs that offer landowners payments for restoring property.

Peschong pointed out that the property and its restoration could cost a lot more than the purchase price and that Hahn should not put such limitations on the city if she wants it to purchase the land.

Mergen was instructed by the council to continue negotiations with Hahn.

*The council approved paying the League of Minnesota Cities $64,469 for liability insurance through 2005. *The council approved the final plat for the Ampe Morningside Plat Three, which contains four lots.

*The council also approved rezoning these four lots from agriculture to single and two family residential.

*The council also approved rezoning two lots in Ampe Morningside Plat Two from highway commercial to single and two family residential.

*The council approved a commercial ground lease at the Paynesville Municipal Airport for Walter Moorehouse by a 3-1 vote. Moorehouse plans to move a commercial hanger to the airport.

While his hanger houses two aviation-based businesses, he also runs an upholstery business in the hanger. The airport commission approved allowing a non-aviation business as a companion business to Moorehouse's other businesses at the airport under the condition that any vehicles, furniture, etc., will be kept inside the hanger.

Council members Dave Peschong, Jean Soine, and Dennis Zimmerman voted for the motion, and council member Harlan Beeck voted against it.

*The council approved paying Double Check Company, Inc., $69,800 for a 10,000-gallon fuel storage tank, pumping system, and credit card terminal at the airport. *The council also approved having SEH prepare an emergency plan for fuel spills at the airport, with the cost not to exceed $3,200.

*The council approved changing a current city zoning ordinance to allow accessory structures (garages, sheds, pools, etc.) to be built on some properties without first building a residence. Currently, the ordinance allows accessory structures in residential areas only after or during the construction of a primary structure.

In the case of property owners who own two abutting lots, the city will consider allowing an accessory building without a primary house if the following conditions are met: the property owner gets a conditional-use permit; and the two lots are combined into a single lot so that they can't be sold separately without the city's approval for a lot split. If a lot split is granted, the property owner must build a residence on the lot with only an accessory structure.

*The council approved a conditional-use permit for David and Kari Notch of 402 Hoffman Street. The Notches requested the permit to remodel their existing garage and to build an additional 28' x 32' detached garage on their property. The property is zoned highway commercial but the property is used as single and two-family residential. Therefore, a conditional-use permit was required.

*The council approved a Tri-CAP deferred payment agreement with Raymond and Maretta Velyan to purchase a home on Stearns Avenue. The Velyans will receive a $2,500 loan from the city to help with a down payment and closing costs. The loan will be forgiven after five years if the Velyans remain in the home.

*The council also approved participating in the TriCAP deferred payment program for a third cycle. Participating in the program means the city will dedicate $25,000 from the EDAP fund to help finance 10 homes for first-time buyers, giving 10 $2,500 forgivable loans like the Veylans received.

*The council approved hiring Marsha Meed for the position of part-time data entry clerk for the Paynesville Police Department.

*The council approved election judges for the general election, to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2: Lorraine Adams, Jennifer Heinen, Danielle Linder, Christine Lundgren, Ken Ramthun, Carolyn Swyter, and Janice Zumwalde (head judge).

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