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Rushford City Council Report: Hearing set for proposed Rushford FCHS home

Fri, Feb 16th, 2007
Posted in Government

Steve Fenlon of MHC, a nonprofit tax-exempt financing specialist, addressed the Rushford City Council at their regular meeting February 12. As transaction manager, Fenlon asked the council to set a public hearing in order for FCHS (Fillmore County Human Services, Inc.) to obtain financing for the construction of a residential home at 751 Horseshoe Drive in Rushford as well as refinancing for two homes in Preston (909 Spring Valley Avenue and 508 St. Anthony Street). Although a private corporation, FCHS is non-profit. IRS does not charge tax on income for the corporation and allows it to obtain tax-free financing if an entity such as the city sponsors them. With such sponsorship comes no responsibility for repayment of the loan on the city's part. FCHS will be responsible for the repayment. Fenlon informed the council a bank in Rushford would be partnering with one in Harmony on the $734,600 transaction.

Fenlon explained to the council that there has been a movement away from warehousing people with disabilities in institutional settings to providing residential homes for them. FCHS provides residential support services in Harmony, Preston, Spring Valley, Wykoff, Lanesboro, Peterson, and Mabel. Fenlon pointed out that the proposed licensed group home in Rushford would create jobs and generate revenue. He urged citizens to bring their questions about the home to the hearing and told the council the homes are good neighbors and are designed to fit into their neighborhoods.

Nearby property owner John Nitecki voiced his anxiety concerning the proposed home as he wondered about the impact it would have on traffic in the neighborhood as well as on property values. Nitecki assured the council he had no intent to be disrespectful and shared that his family loves their currently quiet, residential neighborhood.

Fenlon acknowledged the anxiety of neighbors, but went on to say such residential homes prove to be good neighbors. This is not a halfway house with transitional residents, but rather a long-term home for high-need, medically fragile people. The disabilities of the residents are such that they need a staff person to assist them at different levels based on their vulnerabilities. The home does not require a conditional use permit (CUP) since it is a residential home.

Council member Nancy Benson asked FCHS to supply pictures of current homes set in their neighborhoods to illustrate how they fit in. FCHS will also provide floor plans for the new home at the hearing. The council set the hearing on the proposed home for 6:30 p.m., Monday, February 26.

Dreaming Horses building

At the advisement of the EDA, the council agreed to purchase the former Dreaming Horses building for $75,000. EDA member Gordie Hatleli called the building a good one for development and suggested the plan for development could include more nearby properties as well. City Administrator Windy Block called the purchase a "step of aggressiveness."

Mayor Les Ladewig declared, "The city has been sitting on its heels for too long."

Nancy Benson agreed, "It's time we stop being a stagnant city and start becoming a progressive city again!"

EDA Riverside and

RiverStar tour

The EDA toured the Riverside electronics plant in Lewiston and the RiverStar facility in Winona February 6 to learn more about the company and its work. The company intends to form a new business at the TRW east building and hire over forty manufacturing employees. If this is the case, the company could qualify for JOBZ benefits. Currently the property is not included in the JOBZ designation. The benefits would need to be moved from other property and both the school district and the county would need to agree to it. If the property is not given JOBZ designation, or the company does not qualify for the program, the city could opt to offer the company other incentives at its discretion.

Other business

In other business the council:

• swore in Herb Highum as council member; Highum was appointed to the Tree Board;

• decided a joint meeting with the Fillmore County Sheriff and Rushford Village should be scheduled to discuss police coverage for the area;

• directed staff to research the cost of energy-saving LED streetlights;

• learned the airport may be allocated $150,000 for improvements-the current runway is too narrow and too short to meet federal standards to allow for small jet landings. Funding would be in the 95/5 ratio with the city paying five percent of the expense.

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