The Greenfield City Council reached a consensus on the amended stormwater utility fee calculation plan at the March 7 meeting.
Plans for city-owned property at 8555 Commerce Drive were also revisited, along with a preliminary and final plat approval for the Cartway to the Crow second addition.
Deliberation on the stormwater calculation methodology was concluded at the meeting.
Staff brought forward the recommendation to use the method most similar to the current method, but with national wetland index credits to all parcels; credits had previously only been given to parcels over 40 acres. The staff-recommended plan also went by categories in 5-acre increments. The city engineer had also aided in the development of the plan.
“Using 5-acre categories for the calculation and giving wetland credits to all will make it even more equitable and emphasizes the concept from the stormwater plan that states ‘users pay a stormwater utility fee in proportion to the amount of stormwater runoff generated by their property,’” said City Administrator Bonnie Ritter.
The council voted for the recommended 5-acre parcel plan with a maximum REF count of 10.
Councilor Mark Holten said of the earlier working methodologies: “when we first put them in, we obviously had too large of an increase, especially for the large property owners.”
However, Holten maintained his reservations that a maximum REF count of 10 was equitable.
“It basically says that a 100-plus acre parcel pays one-tenth of 100 1-acre parcels,” said Holten. “The 23 largest parcels in the city account for 20% of the total acres in the city, and account for 8% of the fees. So I think to say that the large farms are paying the majority of the stormwater fees is not an accurate statement.”
After Holten’s comments, councilor Hoekstra added: “There is a perception because the bill is larger that the larger properties pay a disproportionate amount, but actually the opposite is true. One-acre properties had the highest bill per acre than any property in the city last year.”
In the meetings leading up to the March 7 decision, many large acreage landowners had voiced their concerns over rising fees during public comment.
The council also took time to recognize staff.
“A tremendous effort has been put into looking at various models, and so I would like to thank staff and our stormwater committee,” said councilor Hoekstra.
City staff will return with the appropriate write-ups of the plan for the council at a future meeting.
Staff had previously received an inquiry about property owned by the city on 8555 Commerce Drive in January.
The 12.22-acre parcel had originally been a privately-owned property, but was sold to the city. At the Jan. 17 meeting, staff were directed by the council to find out if the property could potentially house a water treatment plant. If the parcel was fit to hold such a facility, then the council would be less inclined to sell it.
According to Veolia water, local plants often required more space. The plant in St. Michael is on a 106.83 acre property, and Delano’s is on 35.3 acres, with an additional city-owned 62.53 acres across the street. A representative of Veolia Water recommended that the council seek assessment from an engineer, as footprint requirements can vary greatly according to the City’s needs.
The parcel itself has an interesting history. In May 2006, a Phase I Environmental Study was conducted on the parcel, and concluded that debris was buried on site. A year later it was discovered more specifically that 13 feet of concrete was buried on the property. In 2008, the majority of the parcel was put up for sale.
According to statements from then-Planning Commission Chair Swanson in fall 2010, MnDOT was responsible for dumping the debris with consent from the former private landowner. Swanson estimated at the time of the statement that it would cost $60,000 to completely remove the debris, which today is widely assumed to be parts of a demolished bridge.
With this information, the council agreed to discontinue the listing in February 2011. However, the “For Sale” sign was forgotten and left standing, which explained the recent inquiry.
Councilor Holten brought up the possibility of contacting MnDOT to see if they would have any interest in removing it, but since it was private property at the time, it is unlikely that they would. At the time of purchase, the city had agreed to buy “as is.”
Mayor Brad Johnson remarked that with the property’s pond and debris, the odds of being able to build on it any time soon are slim. Hoekstra echoed Johnson, adding it may be better to sell and let another party deal with the parcel’s needs.
The council nevertheless agreed to move forward and let the City Planner review it.
CARTWAY TO CROW
There was a request for a lot line adjustment on 9481 Scott Street and 9473 Vernon Way. Upon approval of the changes, the Vernon Way property could have access to the Crow River. City Planner Laura Chamberlain was present to explain the request and the recommendation given at the planning commission meeting.
The Feb. 14 planning commission meeting considered concerns from the public, and residents neighboring the property appeared largely in favor of the adjustment.
The council approved the preliminary and final plat for the involved parties.