At the March 6 Preston City Council meeting, a motion to approve an EDA recommendation to survey and rezone the proposed Park Lane Development failed due to the lack of a second.
City Administrator Ryan Throckmorton noted the options to purchase the Winslow and Sackett lots (Park Lane Development) were originally signed in August 2020. The options to purchase the two sections have since been extended through August 2023. On February 27 the EDA approved a recommendation to the city council to spend up to $4,000 for a survey of the area and for the council to consider petitioning a rezoning request from R2 to R3 to allow multi-family unit dwellings. The Planning Commission would have had to hold a public hearing for the rezoning request.
The option agreement in place will allow the buyer to obtain a survey and the buyer will have the right to have the properties rezoned.
Mayor Kurt Reicks made it clear that the EDA’s recommendation is putting the “cart before the horse.” What if a developer comes in and wants it split differently? City Attorney Dwight Luhmann said there isn’t a legal description; the survey will just describe the property that is the subject of the option.
Jon DeVries, Preston housing committee, argued they are under pressure due to the limited time left on the option agreement. The survey and rezoning will give some level of certainty to a developer. A higher density (multi-family housing) is necessary to allow this cost of the infrastructure to be spread over more units. DeVries said the city will continue to have employment growth with the Veterans Home, but it does not have population growth. More housing is needed. This development will add to the city’s tax base.
Councilman Dean Aug said he was not comfortable spending taxpayer dollars without knowing a clear outcome.
Builder/developer Andy Bunge insisted the market is asking for multi-family units. Rezoning to R3 would be a big step to attract developers. It will not pencil out with single family homes. In this case the infrastructure will be put in by the developer. Tax abatement (city and county) could help pay for the infrastructure costs. As a local builder, “I look at it this (development with R3 zoning) as a wonderful opportunity,” noted Bunge.
Helen Winslow said manufactured homes or an apartment building were not part of the original contract discussion. She said she was not sure she would renew the contract.
After this lengthy discussion, Councilman Steve Hall made a motion to follow through on the EDA’s recommendation. There was no second to the motion. The motion failed.
Other business in brief
• The city council meeting was held this day for the first time in the newly renovated city council chambers.
• With construction of the veterans home entrance, Golfview Drive will be reconstructed with a 90-degree intersection onto First Minnesota, which is 175 feet south of State Highway 16. An ordinance was adopted to rename this portion of Golfview Drive NW, which lies between Highway 16 and the west facing intersection of Golfview Drive, First Minnesota.
• Approval was granted for 2023 Downtown Pop-up Markets. Ilene Edwards said the 2022 markets averaged 23 vendors. The markets will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 20 (Trout Days), August 12, and September 16 (Taste of the Trail).
• Lexi Pierce said she and a few other community members are organizing a flea market in Preston. The intention is to hold a flea market on July 8 and September 16 at the former Dairy & Farm location and on May 20 and June 10 at the fairgrounds. The flea markets will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The council approved the use of the former Dairy & Farm lot for the dates provided.
• The council approved the waiving of building permit fees for three EDA 2023 New Housing Incentives and two Home Rehabilitation Incentives.
• Throckmorton reported that the library elevator quit working a few weeks ago. He noted it was installed in 1996 and is obsolete. It may be repaired for about $8,000 but it has a history of other issues. After some discussion, the council directed staff to get an estimate for the replacement of the elevator.
• An agreement with J & M Displays for Trout Days fireworks was approved. The $8,000 contract is paid for with $4,500 from city budget, $500 F & M Community Bank contribution, $500 Fire Department contribution, and $2,500 held over (two years when fireworks were canceled due to weather and COVID). A permit for the Fireworks Display was also approved.
• Street closures for Trout Days were approved. Fillmore County will also be asked to consider street closures for Trout Days.
• The city council will meet next on March 20.