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Lanesboro City Council Report: Cooperation continuing on Church Hill Cooperative development


Fri, Sep 5th, 2003
Posted in Features

Developers Jeff Allman and Warren Kramer of Northcountry returned to the Lanesboro City Council with a refined plan for the Church Hill Cooperative property (the Old School) on Tuesday night. The new plan calls for one handicapped and eight other indoor parking stalls as well as seven attached garage bays, two loading zones and five outdoor parking spots. Garages would be tucked into the “eyebrow” of the hill with outdoor parking spots available on top of the garages. In addition, the new plans show 24 on-street parking spots on Hillcrest and Ridgeview; thus meeting the current zoning requirements. The plan also calls for the roof of the building’s annex to be used as a patio/sitting area.

In the new plan, entry will be on the Hillcrest side of the building and a curb cut will be necessary for a driveway into the property. Responding to the needs of Bethlehem Church, the developers have opted to keep the alley as a public alley, one-way towards Ridgeview as it is currently used. Northcountry is willing to cover the costs of the alley on their property; the city/church will need to work out responsibility for the alley/parking lot in back of the church.

Jeff Allman added that Northcountry wanted to “formalize and upgrade the bunny trail” access from the city park, calling it a “nice amenity.”

The city council took formal action to move the project along. The plan for parking was approved with councilman Jerome Halvorson dissenting. The council unanimously directed the city attorney to work with Bethlehem Church to determine options, cost estimates, and necessary easements for the alley/parking area behind the church. The city attorney was also directed to work with the church and the cooperative to ensure that no building would be done in the sixteen-foot area between the two buildings. The council also unanimously directed the Park Board to coordinate with the cooperative in developing the bunny trail. With councilmen Halvorson and Drake dissenting, the council opted to hire Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates to create a TIF redevelopment district around the Church Hill Cooperative property. The cooperative will pay Bubany’s costs and pay for the alley construction on the cooperative property.

A motion to no longer require a sidewalk along Hillcrest on the cooperative property failed. This was sent back to Planning and Zoning for further study. Keeping a sidewalk would require either steps up and down from the driveway into the building or a footbridge above the drive. Since the building occupants would be entering from the lower side of the building and the driveway was necessitated by the efforts to keep the alley in place for the church use, the developers saw no need to keep the sidewalk or incur the expense of redoing it. Planning and Zoning and several of the council members felt that the city should not get rid of a sidewalk already in place.

Jeff Allman asked for a clarification on who was reconsidering the sidewalk and what they wanted. He said, “I’m just trying to figure out who I’m supposed to cooperate with.”

Tri-County Electric

Presentation

Brian Krambeer, president and CEO of Tri-County Electric visited the Lanesboro Council at the invitation of councilman Jerome Halvorson. Following the electric rate increase public hearing, some citizens of Lanesboro had suggested checking into the possibility of having Tri-County take over the distribution of electricity for Lanesboro. Krambeer made a presentation to the Utility Commission and was invited to make the same presentation to the council.

Krambeer enumerated several benefits the city would realize from turning over the electric distribution to Tri-County. These included: a new substation at Tri-County’s expense, no new generator would be needed, and Tri-County would be responsible for a needed voltage conversion, meter and pole testing and replacement, vegetation management, PCB transformer and regulator disposal, and engineering fees. Krambeer pointed to increased reliability from interconnection with three service lines coming into Lanesboro and better service available to bluff and outlying areas.

When asked about the completion of a reliable back-up source, Krambeer answered that a back-up is not necessary because Tri-County is a class A member of Dairyland Power since it is one of the cooperatives that owns Dairyland. Dairyland currently supplies power to the city of Lanesboro as well. Tri-County has committed to buy all power from Dairyland and can’t own a generation system itself.

Jeff Redalen, a Tri-County Director added that the city could potentially implement a franchise fee to generate some income. Redalen also pointed out that Tri-County’s size would only increase by two percent if it were to purchase Lanesboro’s system. Redalen commented, “The real benefit is to the city (of Lanesboro).”

In answer to the question whether there was an interest at Tri-County in purchasing the system, Krambeer stated, “Tri-County will help in any way.” He gave the book value of the Lanesboro system as $1.2 million and said Tri-County might need to invest another one to two million for system improvements.

Other business

Other business conducted by the council included:

• Approving a tri-county firefighters mutual aid contract. The old contract called for mutual aid to be provided at a rate of $25 per hour. The new contract calls for a more realistic fee of up to $200 per hour. The contract will be revisited every two years.

• Passing a resolution to participate in a JOBZ application. JOBZ is a state program to provide tax incentives to businesses locating in rural Minnesota. Although the focus is on industry or light industry, Lanesboro could also be able to make a case for commercial or retail property such as the burned out downtown sites.

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