Medina to pursue affordable housing grant

The Medina City Council, Tuesday, Feb. 19 approved a proposed application for a Hennepin County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that eventually could provide funding for acquisition of land for affordable rental town homes in Medina.

Plymouth-based Dominion, an apartment management company, is proposing to build 30 to 45 town home units with attached garages on property located behind the Medina Entertainment Center. The town home complex would be called Clydesdale Community.

Medina Mayor Tom Crosby presents Assistant Finance Director Erin Barnhart a certificate recognizing her five years of service to the city of Medina. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Medina Mayor Tom Crosby presents Assistant Finance Director Erin Barnhart a certificate recognizing her five years of service to the city of Medina. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Nick Anderson, of Dominion, said his company is interested in constructing two-, three- and four-bedroom units that would rent for somewhere between $900 and $1,400 per month. These units would be designed for occupancy by service professionals and would not fall into the category of low income housing.

Anderson said Dominion constructed a similar project in Albertville that opened in 2009. The complex was at 100 percent occupancy before it was completed. This is evidence that this type of housing is in high demand, he said.

According to Dominion’s web site, the company owns or manages over 23,000 housing units and provides consulting services in 20 states.

City Planner Dusty Finke said CDBG funds are only one of various funding mechanisms for affordable housing. The city of Medina would be the applicant in this case. Dominium can apply for other grants, including the “grand daddy” of them all, a state grant.

The City Council approved submission of the CDBG grant application and added other items to the resolution. First, the council made it clear that applying for grant funds does not mean that Medina is approving land use for the Dominium project in advance. Second, the council authorized city staff to write letters of support for Dominion as it applies for grants for the Medina project.

The City Council also took up other business. Here some meeting highlights.

 

BROADBAND PURSUIT

The City Council approved the sending of a letter authored by Mayor Tom Crosby to the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC) regarding negotiations for a franchise agreement with Mediacom. Crosby’s letter is in response to a request that the LMCC has made to its 17 member cities, including Medina. The LMCC is asking cities to approve a resolution supporting the LMCC as the exclusive representative in cable TV franchise negotiations with Mediacom. The current agreement will expire at the end of this year.

In his letter Mayor Crosby said the Medina City Council has discussed the LMCC request “and will not be moving forward with approval of the resolution. As you are aware from previous communications, Medina has been approached by Mediacom for a direct franchise. We continue our discussions with Mediacom but have no agreement, formal or informal, with them.”

The letter continues, “Accordingly, it is possible that Medina will have a direct contract with Mediacom and not be involved in LMCC’s Mediacom negotiations. We want LMCC to know of the possibility for its planning purposes.”

As Crosby ended his letter, he said, “Should we choose to go with Mediacom, we would be interested in a separate contract with LMCC for other services presently offered.”

For 30 years, Medina has pooled together with other cities for cable television services via the LMCC. The collaborative has contracted with Mediacom and a predecessor for items such as constructing the cable infrastructure to bring cable TV to subscribers. Recently the cable wiring also has carried high speed internet and telephone connections. Five cities, including Medina, are considered to be under served by Mediacom, and rural Medina residents and businesses have complained about lack of high speed internet.

Mayor Crosby said he has checked with the other four under served cities — Orono, Victoria, Independence and Minnetrista. The last three cities told him that their needs could be met through the LMCC. That leaves Orono and Medina with the greatest needs for construction of cable TV infrastructure. He expected to hear from Orono in late February about that city’s plans. Once he hears from Orono, he expects to seek an attorney to represent Medina in negotiations with Mediacom.

 

TAMARACK RIDGE PRELIMINARY PLAT

The City Council denied a request for approval of a preliminary plat for the Tamarack Ridge rural subdivision proposed for 80 acres of land located between Homestead Trail and Willow Drive at the end of Deerhill Road. The developer proposed eight rural parcels for a site that contains 50 acres of farmland and 30 acres of wetland.

City Planner Nate Sparks said that Medina ordinances require five acres of contiguous soils suitable for septic tanks, as recorded in the Hennepin County soil survey, in order for a property owner to build on a lot. According to Medina’s information, the site does not have 40 acres of soils suitable for septic tanks. This is one reason that the Medina Planning Commission recommended denial of the preliminary plat.

Attorney Gerald Duffy spoke on behalf of the applicant for the preliminary plat. He said a soil scientist did soil borings for the applicant to determine whether the site has sufficient suitable soils for the development. Results of the soil borings indicated that the site has enough suitable soils.

Mayor Crosby noted that the deadline for Medina to act on the Tamarack Ridge application is approaching. He asked Duffy if he and his client would extend the approval deadline.

Duffy said he and his client has had difficulty in working with the city of Medina and they were not interested in giving the city more time.

Mayor Crosby then asked city planners to bring a resolution for denying the application before the City Council. He called for a five-minute break so that everyone could read the resolution.

After the break, City Council Jeff Pederson asked Duffy whether his client still did not want to extend the approval deadline. Duffy gave the same answer as before.

Crosby said it was not customary for the City Council to act on a resolution the same night. However, the council needed to act that night because the applicant refused to extend the approval deadline. He said he had seldom seen a request come before the council in which the city and the applicant were “so far apart.”

 

OTHER

The City Council also:

AUTHORIZED advertising for bids for remodeling the former Clams Corps Building at 600 Clydesdale Trail for use by the Police and Public Works Departments.

ACCEPTED a donation of $28,000 from the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association.

RECOGNIZED Erin Barnhart for five years of service to Medina. She has served as an accountant and, most recently, assistant finance director.

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