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Preston wraps up details for North Industrial Park


Fri, Jul 25th, 2014
Posted in Preston Government

The Preston City Council worked through an unusually long agenda at their July 21 meeting. Councilman David Harrison was absent.

A public hearing was held related to the proposed utility improvements for the North Industrial Park. Brett Grabau, Stantec, explained that a 10 inch water main and 8 inch sanitary sewer are to be extended to serve properties north of Highway 16 and west of Highway 52. These services will include the installation of fire hydrants. The improvements will also be extended to the proposed commercial lots south of Highway 16 and west of Highway 52.

Assessments at the rate of approximately 27.4 percent of the cost are expected for those property owners of parcels north of Highway 16. Due to these proposed assessments, a public hearing was required. There were no comments from the public.

The total estimated cost of the utility improvements north of Highway 16 is $283,221. The Utility Commission (city) is to cover about $14,000 because of an oversized utility for future expansion. The DEED funding will pay $140,000. The remaining $129,117 is to be split three ways between estimated assessments to Preston Dairy and Farm ($38,735) and Gehling ($38,735) and the balance to the Utility Commission ($51,647).

The council unanimously adopted three resolutions including the order for the utility improvements and for a preparation of plans and specs (completed), the approval of the plans and the advertisement for bids for the North Industrial utility improvements, and a document which reserves the right for the city to reimburse itself with bond proceeds. City Administrator Joe Hoffman expects they will have either a 10 or 15-year bond which will also be the time period allowed for the assessments to be paid.

Purchase of Land

City Attorney Dwight Luhmann noted that the EDA has had an option agreement with Bob Doherty for up to 8 acres south of Highway 16 and west of Highway 52. Rockny Moger had a prior agreement for 2 acres which tied up those two acres. The council unanimously voted to exercise their option for the remaining 4.32 acres for a total of 6.32 acres.

The preliminary/final plat of these acres for the industrial park was approved. Grabau noted that a minimal number of acres will be purchased, those that are most buildable. A public hearing had been held at Planning and Zoning to get feedback from the public.

At the April 21 council meeting a development agreement with Moger for Bluff Country Manufacturing had been approved. As part of that agreement lot #1 will be sold to Moger. Plans include the construction of a building of approximately 8,600 square feet.

The purchase of 3.66 acres at $12,000 per acre ($43,920) and the securing of a drainage easement of 1.03 acres at $5,000 per acre ($5,150) from Jerry Wingert for the north Preston regional pond was approved. The total purchase cost is $49,070. The regional pond will serve the drainage of 158 acres including the North Industrial Park, Poet, the Dairy and Farm redevelopment and nearly 100 acres of land that may be developed in the future.

Shared Tourism/Chamber/NTC Position

The Preston Area Chamber of Commerce proposed the creation of a shared Tourism and Chamber position. They suggested 22.5 hours per week year round for tourism and 7.5 hours per week for the chamber. Hoffman was pretty confident that the city would fall below the 50 employee minimum set by the Affordable Care Act, which would not obligate the city to provide health insurance. Holly Zuck, representing the chamber, said they would pay their portion in advance on a quarterly basis. After considerable discussion, the proposal was approved with councilman Robert Maust voting no. He preferred that there be two jobs and two checks. Tourism Director Sarah Wangen is also the current president of the chamber.

George Spangler said the NTC board of directors had authorized up to eight hours of work per week for Wangen. Money for the position is in the NTC budget. The previous tourism director, Kathy Dahl, had worked for the NTC for 12 hours per week up until about May 1 when she stepped down. A motion to continue as before for 8 hours failed with Maust and David Collett voting no.

Other Business In Brief

•Molly Patterson-Lundgren, WSB, described the process that continued over most of this last year to develop a new comprehensive plan for Preston. There have been several open meetings and workshops where goals were set and a work plan was determined. A public hearing on the draft plan was held June 25. A comprehensive plan is not required by the state, but recommended. At its core, it is a land use plan and is used as a guide for land use and economic development. It is meant to be flexible. Maust moved to table the plan until the next meeting, so he would have an opportunity to read it.

•Three variances were approved as requested by Andrew Bunge for his plan to build a 2-unit townhouse on a lot in the southwest corner of Center St. and Spring St. Planning and Zoning held a public hearing and there was no objection to the project. Hoffman noted that the two setbacks were consistent with the surrounding properties. The third variance was to allow coverage of 51 percent of the lot, maximum allowed is 35 percent.

•Police Chief Matt Schultz discussed a complaint that the property at 105 Preston St. NW is out of compliance with the weed ordinance. He maintained that there should be vegetation on such an extreme slope. The tenant has made an effort to reduce the problem, but it is not physically possible for the tenant to remove the remaining weeds. Schultz suggested spot spraying of the noxious weeds. The council approved the issuance of a “destruction order” to the property owner and if it is not complied with in a timely matter, city employees or an outside contractor will remove the weeds.

•A 2-hour parking zone will be established in front of the building at 100 Main St. East as requested by Jeff Bennett and his tenant, Maple Leaf Services.

•A resolution was adopted approving parcels for public auction within the city that have been forfeited to the state of Minnesota for non-payment of property taxes. The list includes Golfview Estates, 7 lots.

•A History Month proclamation was approved. Hoffman noted it recognizes the great work of the Preston Historical Society. The restored caboose will be dedicated on August 16 at 10:30 a.m. Another tractor ride is planned for late in the summer.

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