Council moves forward on proposed downtown property development

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 14 moved forward with a proposed development project in downtown Guttenberg.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling and Jane Parker through the evening's agenda. Also present at the council table were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Development project

At last month's regular meeting, the council approved a zoning change for several lots south of the municipal building from C-2 (general office retail) to R-3 (mixed residential). The change was made at the request of the Guttenberg Economic and Development Commission which reported a developer was interested in constructing  residential duplexes. 

To move forward on the project, the council on Monday night unanimously approved a motion to sell a city-owned parcel of land in the middle of the block to the GEIDC, which in turn would sell it to the developer.

At the public hearing prior to authorizing the sale, Nancy Schroeder of Blooming Branches spoke to the council asking that the lot immediately south of the municipal building not be used for the development but rather that it be upgraded for public parking, citing a need for elderly access and more parking. 

Dave Schlueter of the GEIDC said the proposed development would provide an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 annually in property tax revenue, provide more housing, and that the developer would drop the project if the lot adjacent to the municipal building was not included in the deal.

Grant administration

Diana Johnson of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke to the council about administration of the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant the city was awarded from the Iowa Economic Authority in September for water and sewer system improvements. The council approved a contract with UERPC for grant administration, and also approved seven policies required by CDBG rules.

Electrical line backup

The city manager discussed having a secondary backup electrical line coming down from the top of the bluff. She said there is currently a line in place, but it is old and not able to be energized if needed. "That is the most precarious portion of our system," she said. Black Hills Energy will be installing a gas line from Acre Street down the bluff to Herder Street. The city manager would like to use that opportunity to install a conduit alongside the gas line, and pull wire through it at a later time. The council's consensus was that it was good idea, and asked the city manage to seek a cost estimate from the boring company to present to the council. 

Other business

The council set Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. for a public town hall meeting for the proposed Schiller Street Corridor project. The council also authorized a grant application to Iowa Great Places in connection with the project.

Following discussion at last month's meeting, the council sold a small parcel of city land adjacent to Miners Creek Campground to Steve Hansel dba Deep Blue Seafood for $2,500.

Stan Blair and other members of the local Freedom Rock committee were present to report that the group recently received a grant from Upper Mississippi Gaming Commission to be used for concrete sidewalks. Blair said the group was waiting to see what the city is going to do with the footbridge and stabilization of the north wall of the pond. It was noted that Swales Concrete was going to donate the crane work. The council voted to proceed with an estimate from Friedlein Excavating to complete the work.

After discussion with the city attorney, the council voted to move forward with plans to amend the city's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) ordinance.

The council accepted a bid from Heiar Brothers Fencing for $22,831 to install fencing at the city pole yard, tennis court, compost site, and city athletic fields. 

Dustin White and Robert Millin were approved as reserve police officers. Ryan Jaster was approved as a city electric assistant. Austin Mitchell was named to the Guttenberg Fire Department.

Mike Hefel spoke to the council regarding trees damaged on the Kris Stocks property during a storm and questioned property lines in that area.

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