"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Monday, December 5th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

Rushford approves tax exempt funding for residential home

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - Neighbors of the proposed FCHS (Fillmore County Handicapped Services, Inc.) residential home turned out for the public hearing February 26 regarding potential tax-exempt funding for the home. Steve Fenlon, representing FCHS, reminded the group the question was not whether the home would be built, but rather whether the project should be financed with tax-exempt funding. According to Fenlon, the interest expense for the home would be reduced by a third if the tax-exempt financing were permitted. With such a savings, the home would have more funds to provide employees with a livable wage and give the residents better care.

Fenlon related his personal story of living within 150 yards of such a home for years with no concerns. He also said people who had contacted FCHS with concerns and had toured existing homes came away "comfortable" with the homes.

Dean Aug, a FCHS employee, responding to a concern about the possibility of increased traffic, compared the traffic generated by the home to "no more than that from a home with a couple of teenagers."

Fenlon reminded the group that such residential homes are appraised at two and a half times that of other homes. Appraisers compute the economic effect of such homes based on the fact they are revenue-generating property.

Although there will be a total of fifteen employees, only two or three would be at the home most of the time. The home will have space for two employee cars in its garage as well as space in the driveway for parking off the street. Initially, there would be some training sessions for all employees; these sessions would be held during the day.

When asked why the particular lot had been chosen, Aug said they had looked for a flat lot suitable for the style home planned with curb, gutter, good lighting, and good access for health care and fire protection. Answering the concern about children meeting their school bus nearby, Aug said the home morning staff would arrive at six a.m. with the night staff leaving at 9 a.m.; a van from DAC would pick up some residents at the house itself. This schedule would not affect children waiting for a bus.

Dennis Rutgers questioned the availability of a copy of the application for the home. He was informed the draft of the application was at Preston, the issuing city for the bond. Rutgers also asked about the size of the home. The proposed home will have 2,500 square feet of living space and 1,100 square fee of garage.

Neighbor Gary Hoff asked whether any FCHS homes have been sold. FCHS has sold homes in both Harmony and Spring Valley; these homes were sold as private homes.

Neighbor Lisa Lawston's letter was read at the public hearing. In it she detailed her concerns regarding the home, namely: an increase in traffic, security of the staff, and communication. While Lawston was concerned about strangers in the neighborhood, FCHS assured her they do background checks and drug testing on employees.

Lawston had asked for the opportunity to go over the home layout. Fenlon responded that the home is engineered carefully to meet the needs of the residents and it's "difficult to involve a neighbor in the planning."

Lu Ommen of FCHS said he talked to Lawston several times on the phone. He also related that the home plan has been flipped since then to provide the best use of yard space for the home and its neighbors.

Barb Zoelle Johnson of Fillmore County Social Services reminded the gathering that if an individual built a home they wouldn't get plan approval from the neighbors. She went on to opine, "you couldn't ask for better neighbors" (than a FCHS resident home).

Karry Ruesgen of Winona County Human Services reminded the group that FCHS has to follow state guidelines, "There'll be no junk in their yard."

Rita Hanson also of Winona County Human Services told the group the awake staff of the home would be the eyes and ears of the neighborhood and could help protect them.

Roger Buege told the gathering he lives near the proposed home and also works at Home and Community Options in Winona. "I'd be the loud neighbor," he jokingly declared as he told them he was present to support both his neighbors and the home.

Tim Jones spoke up and shared that his daughter would be one of the residents in the new house. He explained the turnover in staff was due to the fact that many were college students. He extolled the staff, calling them the "nicest bunch of girls." Explaining the traffic his family would generate, he told the group they'd see him stop by Friday night to pick up his daughter and again on Sunday night to drop her off.

After closing the hearing, the council noted FCHS had responded to concerns about the placement of the home on the lot and had attempted to "mitigate neighborhood concerns." City Administrator Windy Block reminded the council the land was rated R3 with a minimum six foot side yard; the planned home is "in keeping with the law." The council unanimously passed the resolution giving approval to the issuance of the revenue note.

Heather Larson job assignment change

The council approved increasing Heather Larson's position from twenty hours to forty hours a week. Larson has been appointed the project coordinator for the "Get Broadband" project, as such she will work for the Chamber of Commerce. With this increase in Larson's time, the city will be able to cross-train its office employees to ensure uninterrupted city services. The office will be fully open to the public from 8 to 4:30 daily as well. The situation is experimental and will be reevaluated in six months.

Block commented, "I think this contract could give the chamber a jump start," as he opined that the chamber business couldn't be done by volunteers alone.

Council member Herb Highum agreed, noting neighboring towns were doing a better job with their chambers of commerce.

Larson will begin her new duties effective March 6 and will receive full benefits.

Other business

In other business the council:

• accepted a $200 donation from the Rushford Lions Club for signage for the Fire Department building;

• passed a resolution requesting the Minnesota legislature pass comprehensive road and transit funding in 2007

• was reminded of the upcoming business owners and interested citizens round table discussion about the recent housing study and its effect on the city's economy scheduled for 5 p.m., March 15 at Stumpy's;

• learned $150,000 has been allocated for the airport. Block called this a "start for the airport to make the leap into the next century.

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!

Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.