St. Michael opposes town homes at downtown site
The St. Michael City Council reached consensus that a proposed town home project would not be the best fit for the former Simonsen Lumber site in downtown.
But the council also heard that developers are prodding the city for interest in potential future housing projects.
The council also authorized purchase of a new fire truck, discussed about the Beebe Lake water project, and heard that the city might eliminate A-2 zoning.
The council received the draft minutes of the Economic Development Authority’s recent meeting. Community development director Marc Weigle reviewed discussion from the meeting, which he said mostly consisted of a presentation from the developers of the former Simonsen Lumber site for a town home development on that property.
Weigle said the EDA suggested updating the market study for the downtown area to determine what would be the best use for the property.
Mayor Jerry Zachman and councilors Kevin Kasel, Joe Marx, Nadine Schoen and Chris Schumm discussed the proposal and agreed that residential use would not be a good fit for the area, which is nestled between the eastbound and westbound “One-Way Pair.” The council also cautioned against spending too much on an updated market study since the economy is still in a slump, and that it would be better to wait until the economy improves before fully updating a downtown market study.
In other EDA news, Weigle said the lack of residential lots in St. Michael has led to developers and builders indicating more interest in a new housing project in St. Michael. Weigle reviewed a presentation with the council that details the lot shortage and lists the benefits and amenities St. Michael has to offer, including a very good school district and relatively low development fees.
In other matters, the council discussed a proposed new fire truck purchase. City administrator Steve Bot explained the details of a possible payment plan for the truck, which includes an interfund loan from the Capital Project fund to the Fire Department fund in the amount of $150,000 to be paid back over three years.
The council questioned whether such a loan should be required to pay interest or not, and that in the past there was no interest required but that it should be something to consider in the future.
Bot said that in recent years transfers to the fire equipment fund have significantly decreased as the levy increases have decreased.
The council ended up unanimously supporting a motion to purchase the new rescue truck for the fire department.
In further news, administrator Bot reviewed the anticipated schedule for the proposed Beebe Lake Water Level Analysis Project, saying a public hearing is required by the DNR prior to implementation.
Bot said the plan includes lowering Beebe Lake by an additional 1.4 fees, improving the existing outlet structure to allow for more efficient flow with less maintenance, and possibly improving the future downstream flow capacity.
The council set the public hearing for Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m.
A-1, A-2 ZONING
In other news, the council heard that the planning commission would conduct a February meeting to amend several ordinances, including possible elimination of the A-2 residential district and combining it with the A-1 general agriculture district.
The council’s consensus was that the two districts could be combined. Councilor Kasel asked whether the ordinance should be amended to allow for smaller accessory structures to be less than 10 feet off side and rear property lines. Community development director Weigle said setbacks discussion would take place at the February planning commission meeting.
In other action, the council:
APPOINTED Stacy Zachman to a six-year term on the EDA; and appointed Joe Eull, Tom Hamilton and Brian Mielke to the three four-year seats on the planning commission.