Maple Grove survey: 96 percent enjoy ‘high quality of life’

Council approves Costco fuel expansion

The Maple Grove City Council received a report of the 2013 community survey during its meeting Monday, Aug. 5. A more in-depth story about the survey will appear in next week’s paper.

The council also directed the city attorney to draft a resolution approved a planned unit development (PUD) development stage plan for the site plan for a Costco fuel expansion.

Another item the council considered were assessment interest rate adjustments.

Here are some of the meeting’s highlights.

 

2013 CITIZEN 

SURVEY REPORT

The council heard from Mike Opatz, from the Administration department. He said the Citizens Advisory Committee had been directed to work on a community survey in 2013. The last city survey was conducted by phone in 2008.

According to staff these surveys provide residents the opportunity to rate the quality of life in the city, service delivery and overall workings of local government. The council originally approved an agreement with National Research Center (NRC) in an amount not to exceed $20,855 to conduct a 2013 community survey.

A mail survey was conducted this time because many residents no longer have a home phone line. The 2013 survey questions were similar to the 2008 questions to allow for a comparative analysis. A total of 1,200 surveys were mailed out in April and a total of 520 completed surveys were returned. This made for a 47 percent response rate.

Erin Caldwell with NRC presented the council with a summary of the survey findings. The first finding was that residents enjoyed a high quality of life, a 96 percent rating.

Another finding was that residents appreciate life in Maple Grove, but felt a lack of affordable housing options. As in previous years, residents felt safe in Maple Grove in 2013.

Services in the city that improved to residents are fire prevention and education, service to seniors, bus/transit services and land use, planning and zoning. Residents felt animal control, snow removal, sidewalk maintenance and code enforcement declined.

Citizens also awarded good marks to Maple Grove government performance.

Eight in 10 residents supported a partnership with local youth athletic association to fund a new gymnasium. Also, six in 10 residents opposed the construction of additional housing for low to moderate income residents.

Caldwell said overall the survey had the quality of life, safety and transportation in the city has a strengths. Some opportunities for improvement were for more affordable housing, sidewalk maintenance and a new gymnasium.

City Administrator Al Madsen said, “I find it rather odd that they are saying the availability [of affordable housing] needs to be greater, but the majority are saying ‘Don’t build any more affordable housing.’ It makes no sense.”

Caldwell said it was one of the contradictions, but the majority of people rated affordable housing as good.

The council also accepted the 2013 Citizen Survey Report as prepared by NRC.

 

COSTCO FUEL 

EXPANSION

The council also directed the city attorney to draft a resolution approving the PUD development stage plan, including the site plan for Costco Fuel Expansion (Fountains at Maple Grove), subject to two conditions.

The project includes expanding the existing fueling facility from three islands with six pumps to four islands with eight pumps. This will bring the number of pumping stations from 12 to 16. This expansion will appear seamless with the canopy extension and brick pillars matching the existing development.

The original approval of the development indicted there was a possibility at a later date. This expansion will result in the loss of 34 parking stall, but does not create any parking issues as the site provides parking in excess of code.

 

INTEREST RATE 

ADJUSTMENT

Also during the meeting, the council considered refinancing bonds issues to reduce interest payments. The council took this action because of recent economic conditions and the city’s AAA bond rating.

Director of Public Works/City Engineer Ken Ashfeld said the current rates on street reconstruction projects range from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent. There are 4,634 parcels that would now be levied at 4 percent.

Ashfeld added the special assessments levied to 169 commercial/industrial/institutional properties reflect various interest rates ranging from 6 percent to 8.25 percent. The interest rates on these parcels would be adjusted to 5.25 percent.

Dean Schutte a resident stated he “appreciates the council addressing the interest rate on the special assessment” and hoped the council would dismiss the past accumulated interest on that special assessment when the council moves forward. “We request that you dismiss the present assessment and all accumulated interest to date,” he added.

Ashfeld said that action was not part of the action before the council. “The action of these two resolutions is to reduce the interest rate going forward, not backward,” he added.

Hank Radinz, on behalf of the Radinz family, said the past levies brought on hardships on the property.

City Attorney George Hoff said the council could exclude those parcels objecting from the resolution lowering the interest rates.

Radinz said he was not objecting to the lower interest rates. Schutte he wasn’t objecting to the rate either, just wanted the dismiss the accumulated interest.

Mayor Mark Steffenson said, “I just want to thank staff for going through this effort. I think it’s a great benefit for our citizens.”

Councilor Erik Johnson asked how much interest would be saved. Ashfeld said there would be a savings of $1 million in the first year.

The council adopted lowering the interest rate on certain special assessment levies for street rehabilitation projects due and payable in the year 2014 and thereafter.

The council also adopted lowering the interest rate on certain special assessment levies for commercial/industrial/institutional project due and payable in the year 2014 and thereafter.

 

OTHER

In other action, the council:

APPROVED the hiring of William Beumer to the position of fire inspector effective Aug. 19, subject to a 12-month probationary period.

SET a special City Council meeting for Monday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Maple Grove Government Center. The council will be discussing the proposed 2014 city budget as well as other matters.

APPROVED the hiring of Jeffrey Hendel to the position of probationary paid-on-call firefighter effective Aug. 21, subject to an 18-month probationary period.

 

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