Council OKs steps for subdivision, potential commercial property sale

By: 
David Phillips

The Spring Valley City Council, meeting in regular session Monday, Oct. 14, took care of several land issues, including a new subdivision that has already attracted the interest of builders and the vacation of a portion of a street that may lead to a commercial property transaction.

The council gave approval to a preliminary plat for Country Side Acres, which includes 10 lots along the south side of an extension of Sata Drive west of Kasten Drive adjacent to the industrial park. The vote was 4-0 as Councilor Mike Hadland was absent from the meeting.

The subdivision proposal came out of a housing summit involving various city groups last month. The goal is to provide affordable new housing units. Future plans are to develop the land all the way south to Tracy Road with a mix of housing.

Spring Valley Planning and Zoning held a hearing on the proposal the previous week and recommended the council approve the subdivision preliminary plat. The council had already given the go-ahead to proceed with the concept during its last meeting.

During a later report at the meeting, city administrator Deb Zimmer said she is working with two different developers on putting housing on the lots the council approved. She will bring more information to the council once it is determined what level of interest there is in moving forward.

When Councilor Luan Ruesink asked if there was any interest from local builders, Zimmer replied yes.

Street vacation

The council approved a resolution to vacate a portion of Griswold Street on the south side of Highway 16 near the intersection with Highway 63. The existing Griswold Street comes to an end at Highway 16, but it is still platted to extend across the highway in a line north of a house and the former BP service station all the way west to Section Avenue across from the Dairy Queen.

That extension had not been used as a street because it was developed as part of the BP property, mostly as a drive leading to the northernmost pumps, but it was still designated as a public street on land records.

At the start of the meeting, a hearing was held on the matter, but there were no members of the public in attendance to speak about the issue.

“It’s been published, notices have been mailed and I have received absolutely no comments on this,” Zimmer told the council.

Once this has been vacated, it still has to go back to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for approval so it can convey the property. The city has been working on this issue with attorneys of a potential purchaser of the BP property, added Zimmer.

Zoning request denied

The council denied a request to rezone a piece of property on Broadway Avenue south of the bowling alley from downtown commercial to residential. Bruce Bucknell, owner of the property that includes a building once used as an alternative school, made the request.

The Planning and Zoning Commission also held a hearing on this matter, but recommended the council deny the request because it would result in spot zoning since the adjacent property is also zoned commercial. The city’s comprehensive plan doesn’t allow spot zoning.

Junk ordinance

The council set a hearing on a junk ordinance violation at its next meeting on Monday, Oct. 28. The property in question is the former Comforts of the Past property, which is zoned residential, located on South Section Avenue.

Prior to the previous council meeting, which was held just after the original deadline to get the property in conformance with city code, the owner had asked for an extension to get his property cleaned up, which the council granted.

When Councilor Ruesink asked at last week’s meeting how much progress has been made, Councilor Chris Danielson said she had driven by recently and hadn’t seen anything done.

At the previous meeting, Zimmer had told the council that the city received several complaints about the property.

In a related matter, Zimmer told the council there is a property on Anson Avenue that is also in violation, but the city has been working with the property owner who is working diligently on cleaning that up.

Levy presentation

Kingsland School Board member Tiffany Mundfrom gave a presentation on the district’s proposal for an operative levy referendum. She emphasized that the levy is for school operations, and it isn’t a building bond. The money will go to maintain classes, provide instructional materials and support programs important to the community, such as agriculture, the trades and a special reading initiative.

Mundfrom said the board members have been going out to different groups and governmental bodies, including every township.

Danielson asked how it has been going; Mundfrom said they have had good responses.

One important aspect for rural residents is that agricultural property taxed is just the home, garage and one acre. The referendum website, kingsland2019.com, shows an example of a farm with a market value of $649,900 has a referendum value of $113,900, resulting in new taxes of less than $11 per month if the referendum is approved.

The website also has a link for district property owners to look up their particular lot to see what their individualized tax impact would cost.

Mayor Tony Archer asked Mundfrom if the referendum doesn’t pass, what the chances are of the state stepping in to take control of the school.

Mundfrom said that is a concern. A flier she handed out stated that the district would exhaust its funds by the 2020-21 school year if the levy fails, and the state would then step in to develop a plan to get the district out of debt.

The special election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Other business

• The council paid the final bill to Elcor Construction for the Washington Avenue improvement project amounting to $253,892.92. Zimmer said a final walkthrough has been made and the $4.8 million project is in compliance with the contract so it can be closed out.

• The council also approved a second payment to Kuechle Underground, Inc., on a new project in the industrial park for $572,587.75. The firm has completed the underground work, although it is still moving dirt, Zimmer said. Blacktopping on this project, which extends industrial park streets, including Sata Drive, is scheduled for next spring or early summer.

• Approval was given to write off bad debts of the ambulance service in the amount of $7,359.83 for the second quarter. Certain bills for services rendered were deemed uncollectable. The council typically takes this action each quarter.

• In commission reports, Ruesink noted that Nathan Hunemuller was offered a job for an opening in the streets department that was to start Tuesday, Oct. 15. The council gave approval for the hiring.

• Danielson reported that the library is losing the collection bins for donated clothing used by the community because the company maintaining the bins is ceasing operations. The library receives funds from this service with about $1,500 to $2,000 of income budgeted for the coming year.

• In the administrator’s report, Zimmer reminded the council that the regional meeting of the League of Minnesota Cities will be held Oct. 30 at the Spring Valley Community Center. She also noted that the posts for the electronic sign on Broadway Avenue will soon be installed with the sign planned to go up in the first week of November.

• In other reports, Councilor John Dols and Archer both thanked the Spring Valley Fire Department for educating youth on fire safety and holding a successful pancake breakfast. Archer also noted that the ambulance service has been busy and he attended the most recent EDA meeting.