The Medina City Council Tuesday, Dec. 4, set the city’s final 2013 General Fund Budget at $3,776,425, down by exactly $10,000 from the 2012 budget.
To help pay for the General Fund Budget, the council approved a property tax levy of $2,726,118. The city’s total property tax levy of $3,248,806 will include money for debt service — up by $313,103 from the 2012 total property tax levy (10.7 percent).
The City Council also took up other business, including a request for a preliminary plat for a 64-unit single-family residential development. Here are some meeting highlights.
The City Council approved all of the final budget and property tax levy figures that were proposed. A story on the proposed General Fund budget and tax levy was published in the Nov. 29 issue of this newspaper and is on line at pressnews.com/category/news/?tag=medina.
Mayor Tom Crosby noted that Medina had approved its preliminary property tax levy and General Fund Budget for 2013 in September. According to state law, the final budget and tax levy can be equal to or lower than the preliminary figures but not higher.
He commented on reasons for the increase in property taxes. The biggest reason is Medina’s purchase of the Clam Corps office/warehouse building on Clydesdale Trail and plans for remodeling it to meet needs of the public works and police departments.
Although city taxes will go up to pay for the $7 million project, Medina will save $5 to $7 million in the long run, Crosby said. Relocating police and public works to the Clam Corps building will enable Medina to keep its current City Hall and remodel it for use by administration.
Bob Franklin, who is a 46 year resident of Medina, moved from the audience to the microphone and complimented the City Council for being “transparent and responsive.” He said the council listened as residents told them they were having difficult times. He also noticed that Medina has kept its General Fund steady for six years, and called this “pretty remarkable.”
Franklin said he was City Council member 40 years ago, when Medina built its first public works building. He toured it recently and thought it was not good to store expensive equipment outside and that the building was hazardous and not well constructed. He called the Clam Corps purchase “prudent” and said, “It’s time to move on.”
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
The City Council also approved Medina’s 2013 capital improvement plan, which lists potential projects and equipment purchases amounting to $7,780,000. The city’s share of the costs would be $4,781,000. Before Medina would go ahead with a particular project or purchase, the City Council would have to approve it. Some projects might be pushed off into years beyond 2013.
The most expensive project mentioned in the capital improvement plan is renovating the former Clam Corps building on Clydesdale Trail for use by the police and public works departments. The cost earmarked for 2013 is $3.4 million.
The most ambitious road project listed for 2013 is improvements to the County Road 116/Highway 55 intersection at a total cost of $2,620,000. Medina’s share of the cost would be $150,000.
FIELDS OF MEDINA WEST
After much discussion the City Council directed city staff to draft an ordinance rezoning the site of the proposed Fields of Medina West single family housing development from Rural Residential Urban Reserve to R-2 [Single and] Two Family Residential. The council also asked staff to prepare an ordinance approving the preliminary plat. However, the preliminary plat approval will have conditions attached.
Planning Consultant Nate Sparks described the request from Mattamy Homes and RPC Medina LLC for the Fields of Medina West approvals. The 64-lot single-family development would sit on 23 acres located between Arrowhead Drive and County Road 116. Meander Road would be extended to connect these two north-south arteries. The development would be located directly north of Meander and its sole entrance would be from that street.
Another Fields of Medina project already is being constructed to the east. This single-family development includes 65 lots and also is zoned R-2 [Single and] Two Family Residential.
Sparks said the Planning Commission had recommended denial of the requests from Mattamy and RPC for several reasons. Single-family housing would be situated next to the intense commercial development that is planned for the area located to the south and fronting on Highway 55. Also, the development would add traffic congestion to County Road 116. And Mattamy was asking for a waiver from the city’s tree preservation ordinance.
Steve Logan, of Mattamy, explained that it would not be economical for his company to build multi-family housing at Fields of Medina West. Mattamy prefers to build this type of housing in walkable areas such as Maple Grove.
He outlined an alternative proposal that would meet some of the Planning Commission’s objections. Additional trees would be added in the northwest corner of the site, in the proposed park on the eastern portion of the site and south of Meander Road. Playground equipment, a picnic shelter, soccer field and trails would be added to the park. The entrance to the subdivision would be moved further west to avoid interference with the future Tamarack Drive and to encourage traffic to head for Arrowhead Drive.
Mayor Crosby said Medina needs multi-family housing, but the Fields of Medina West site was not suited for this type of housing. Other locations in Medina, such as downtown Hamel, would be more suitable. Downtown Hamel is an area that is more walkable.
City Councilor Melissa Martinson asked for a meeting at which the council would discuss changes in utility connection fees. The goal would be to make them more affordable for developers to construct multi-family housing in Medina. “Many people work in Medina, but they can’t afford to live here,” she said.
In the end the Council directed staff to draft approvals for the Mattamy requests, with conditions added that would include the park and tree improvements and moving of the entrance.
Mayor Crosby said the City Council normally does not go against Planning Commission recommendations. The commission was looking at whether the proposal complied with the comprehensive plan. The City Council needed to look at a larger picture.