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Council denies request from Lake Andrew developer

The Alexandria City Council denied a request from Zavadil Development for the city to finance up to $500,000 to build a new public street for its proposed development along Lake Andrew.

The city previously approved a planned unit development for the project and Zavadil planned to move ahead with the public improvements — sanitary sewer, street and storm water for the first phase of the project.

The developer petitioned the city to exercise its right under city code to install the street and assess the costs back to the developer as a special assessment. The assessment would be for 10 years at 5 percent annual interest. Under city code, the financing would have been limited to no more than 75 percent of the total project costs and not amount to more than $500,000.

Historically, the city has used this financing option "very sparingly," according to City Planner Mike Weber, and it hasn't financed any street construction projects since before the 2008 recession.

The city's budget committee listed reasons for denying the request: The project is located in the extreme southwest corner of the city and the nature of the street is for local traffic only — it's not a collector, connection or through-street.

The committee recommended the street to be financed privately and if the developer has access to $382,973 — the portion of the estimated costs beyond the city's $500,000 financing cap — that money should be used to build as much public infrastructure as it can and then proceed to build and sell homes to leverage the next phase of infrastructure construction.

Larry Zavadil, president of Zavadil Development told the council that the vision for the project dates back to the early 2000s but plans faltered after the recession hit and some landowners pulled out of the project.

Zavadil said he believes the project can be successful and provide entry level homes of $275,000 in the first phase of the project that would develop 60 lots. He said it needs to leverage money and support from the city to keep the momentum going to "put Humpty Dumpty back together."

The council voted 5-0 to deny the request.

Charter changes

The council gave unanimous preliminary approval to five amendments in Alexandria's home rule charter — the 58-year-old document that serves as the city's constitution.

The council has voted on the amendments in the past few years but they failed because the vote wasn't unanimous as required by the state.

The council held a public hearing before taking the vote, but no one from the public spoke.

The amendments include:

• Section 2.01, elective officers. This would finally allow the five council members and the mayor to serve four-year terms, which they have been doing since 1996, instead of two years.

• Section 2.02, subdivision 3, rules of procedure. This would allow the council to follow the current version of Robert's Rules of Order for meetings instead of Robert's Rules of Order Revised, which has been revised 11 times since it was first approved in the charter. The amendment also calls for council proceedings to be kept in accordance with Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, which didn't exist when the charter was written.

• Section 7.02, subdivisions 2-4, the budget. This would establish a new timeline and flexibility for setting the budget so it complies with state law.

• Section 7.06, receipts to the city clerk. This section would be rescinded to allow the council to control the city's finances and allow money to be deposited or transferred electronically. The existing code contains lengthy detail on how the city clerk is supposed to handle receipts and doesn't follow guidelines of the state auditor's office or the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

• Section 7.08, disbursements. This section would also be rescinded and would eliminate outdated references to a voucher system and other ways of disbursing city funds.

Residents who oppose the changes could force a referendum vote by presenting a petition signed by at least 5 percent of the registered voters in the city or 2,000 people, whichever is less.

Special events

The council issued two special event permits for Memorial Day weekend:

• The annual Memorial Day Parade will take place on Monday, May 27 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Broadway. It will begin at Ninth Avenue and Broadway and continue north to Agnes Boulevard and end at the Kinkead Cemetery. About 2,000 are expected to attend. The organizers, which include the Alexandria VFW, American Legion Post 87, Vietnam Veterans of AMerica 235 and the Marine Corps League Detachment 1408, also received a parade permit from the Minnesota Department of Transportation because the route goes along State Highway 29.

• The Alexandria Jaycees Ole Oppe Fest is set for Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25 at Big Ole Central Park. A portion of Second Avenue will be blocked from Broadway to Kenwood Street to accommodate the festivities, which include music, a car show, vendor fair, children activities, bean bag tournament, wing sauce contest, goat yoga and possibly a motorcycle show. Between 150 to 250 people are expected to attend. The festival also received a temporary off-premise liquor license that will allow Fat Daddy's to serve alcohol within a fenced area.

Vacuum truck

The council voted to purchase a 2004 vacuum truck from Alexandria Light and Power for $50,000.

The city's public works department will use the truck, which has been used to vacuum sanitary sewer lines, to meet small city requirements established by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The city will also use the truck to maintain water lines on a scheduled basis, not just in emergencies. The truck has a small jetting unit and with the spring melt coming up, this could help guide stormwater to the storm sewer system, reducing the potential for flooding, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz.

If purchased new, the truck would cost more than $300,000, said Dane Bosl, public works street department director. He said the the city is spending about $30,000 a year hiring companies to do the work the truck will do.

Funding will come from the city's stormwater utility fund.

Annexation petition

The council accepted a petition from Jon and Linda Gaugert, owners of the Phoenix Event Center, to annex their property adjacent to County Road 42, at the extreme northern edge of the city in Carlos Township.

The Gaugerts made the request in order to receive city water.

The parcel includes about 1.15 acres.

City staff will notify the state, Douglas County and Carlos Township.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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