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Plans for Preston street improvements move forward

Fri, Feb 21st, 2014
Posted in Preston Government

City Engineer Brett Grabau presented plans and specifications for the large 2014 street and utility improvement project at the city council’s February 18 meeting. Also, a hearing was held regarding the CSAH 17 (St. Paul Street) improvements planned by Fillmore County. Several residents that will likely be assessed for the St. Paul Street improvements attended the meeting.

Grabau recommended that the total 2014 project (estimated to cost more than $3 million) be bid as two smaller projects. Contractors would be allowed to bid on one or both of the two smaller projects. Grabau noted there will be a large amount of utility work.

A resolution was adopted approving the plans and specifications for the project.

The council approved the splitting of the project. It will be divided into the south area including Judy Lane, Russell Street, Matthew Street, and the area south of Fillmore Street and the north area which will be those streets north of Fillmore Street. Splitting the project will not affect the planned time frame for completing the work.

Grabau believes the split will likely put the city in a better position to capitalize on the bidding process. A special meeting will be held on March 31 to review and possibly approve the bids.

The county’s planned work on St. Paul Street (a portion of CSAH 17) between Fillmore Street and the south bridge is not part of Preston’s 2014 street improvement project. Work is planned for this year. The council waived planning agency review because the plans are not related to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Grabau explained that the city shares in the cost of the St. Paul Street project with the county. Improvements like curb and gutter and sidewalks can be assessed in part to adjacent property owners. New driveway aprons are to be installed and the county plans to do a structural mill and overlay.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramps will be constructed. Grabau recommended two different degrees of improvements. On the south side of Main Street all of the curb and gutter should be replaced and on the north side of Main Street only some curb and gutter and sidewalk will be replaced. Grabau estimated that property owners will be assessed $35 to $45 per lineal foot where improvements are made. Property owners will not be assessed for catch basins which are to be replaced.

The county owns the roadway and the city owns the utilities that lie beneath the roadway.

A resolution was adopted ordering the improvement and preparation of plans, followed by a resolution to approve the plans allowing the county to go ahead and bid the project.

Industrial expansion and annexation

Preston Dairy and Farm Associates has plans to relocate their business to the northwest end of the city on about six acres purchased from Gehling Auction. They have petitioned the city for annexation which will include connecting them to city sewer and water. The expansion has been in the planning stages for a number of years.

Nathan Scheevel explained they have plans for four new buildings. First to be built will be a building for dry fertilizer. They hope to start construction this spring. Building design is ongoing. With the expansion they expect to have two more employees.

The possibility that Gehling Auction will also build a new building with an indoor auction area was briefly discussed. They may petition to be annexed too.

The council will have a public hearing on the annexation of the Preston Dairy and Farm property and possibly the annexation of Gehling Auction property on March 31, 6 p.m. at City Hall. City Administrator Joe Hoffman noted the annexation if approved would go to the state for their review and approval on April 8.

Preston Dairy and Farm has requested the City of Preston use tax increment financing (TIF) to help with the development financing of the planned expansion. The taxable value of the property will be increased due to the development. The city would forego this increase in taxes due to the increase in property value for 20 years as a way to financially participate in the project. The expansion will eventually increase the city’s tax base. The TIF District cannot be adopted until after the annexation is complete.

A public hearing on the TIF District will take place on April 7. A special meeting may be held on April 9 for approval of the TIF District assuming the state approves the annexation on April 8.

A resolution was approved to call for a public hearing on the city’s Business Subsidy Agreement. Hoffman said he will work with the EDA to revise and update the business policy. The city is required to enter into a business subsidy agreement with Preston Dairy and Farm if the TIF District for the project is approved. The hearing on the amended business subsidy policy will be held on April 7.

Mike Bubany of David Drown & Associates will be consulted to set up the TIF District. Hoffman estimates it will cost roughly $7,000 to setup the TIF. The city will pay the costs and get those funds back over the life of the TIF District.

Other Business in Brief

•Preston has been chosen to be the host community for the 2014 Bicycling Around Minnesota (BAM) tour occurring from August 14-17. The county fairgrounds will be used for camping and meals at the beginning and end of the tour.

•City Attorney Dwight Luhmann announced the Minnesota Department of Human Rights settlement with Jennifer Christoph. The proposed settlement was a result of her complaint regarding her application for the ambulance director position. Luhmann insisted that in his opinion the city did nothing wrong and the settlement did not include any admission of wrong doing. The city’s insurance carrier made the decision to agree on a monetary settlement and negotiated the terms. The city will only be responsible for its deductible, $250. City supervisory staff will take additional training provided by the League of Minnesota Cities. The council approved the settlement.

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