Tax increment funds proposed for storm damaged businesses

A public hearing with the Little Falls City Council has been set for Sept. 8 to consider granting tax increment funds to cover the costs of the cleanups created by the June 22/23 rain storms at Pete and Joys Bakery, Dominos Pizza and the Falls Cinema.

The hearing was scheduled by the council Monday evening after members, learning the state now permits the establishment of tax increment financing districts for areas that have received substantial damage from natural disasters, approved having such a TIF policy.

On hand at the meeting was Pete Kamrowski, owner of the bakery, who described what happened to his building the night of the storm. As he related, there was eight feet of water in one part of his basement. “I don’t know where it all went then,” he added. “Perhaps a crack in the wall. Anyway, I was left with 10 yards of sand. I lost my boiler system, my pressure system. I guess it could have been worse—it wasn’t sewage water. But, the cleanup cost $60,000, and it’s still mounting up.”

Eventually, the discussion led to the bakery’s east side stairway from which much of the damaging water came. “I need that staircase,” said Kamrowski.

According to Jerry Lochner, manager of City Services, it would cost $9,900 to install a new stairwell. “And, who’s libel for those stairs?” asked one council member.

City Administrator Rich Carlson stated he would check with the League of Minnesota Cities on the matter.

In other business, the council:

• Received a petition for annexation from Richard Lyter of 1711 West River Road. A joint public hearing with the Planning Commission to consider the zoning of the property was set for Aug. 11. Also to be considered at the same hearing will be the preliminary and final plats of Lyle Katerhagen’s property which is located north of the North Bluff addition and east of the railroad tracks;

• Authorized the purchase of a remote data collection unit (DCU) and tower, at a cost of $6,075, from Davies Northern Water Supply of Blaine. There are currently four of these units used in the city which permit the remote reading of water meters through radio waves. The additional one will be used in the Belle Prairie Suburban annexation area;

• Awarded the bid for the paving of 16 alleys to Tri-City Paving. The company’s bid of $49,755 was the lowest of two received;

• Authorized the hiring of Derrick Nagorski and Michael Browning, at $6.04 an hour, to work for the parks, grounds and maintenance department. They will replace two employees who resigned;

• Approved Stephen Vagle’s request for a waiver of subdivision for lots along 5th Street NW, by 1st Avenue, into four parcels. Vagle’s intention is to build two duplexes on the four lots, with each duplex sharing a common wall. While the request was approved, Kate Sobiech asked, “How come they’re already building and we’re just now authorizing this? They’ve been building for two weeks!” Responding, Carlson said he would talk to his staff. “They shouldn’t be issuing permits without an authoriztion,” he admitted;

• Awarded the low quotation of $7,695 from Hess Roise of Minneapolis to complete, as required by federal law before federal money can be spent on the demolition of a site, a historic survey of the Hennepin Paper Mill. If the study indicates the site is eligible for the National Register, negotiations with the Minnesota Historical Society regarding mitigation (a pay back to the public) for the demolition must be conducted. “I think we should save the whistle,” said Sobiech. “All the kids knew when they heard it, it was time to go home for supper;”

• After being told the safety plan ( Response Action Plan) for the demolition of the Hennepin Paper Company site, once said to be adequate, was not, approved having Landmark Environmental prepare a more detailed plan. The cost will be $1,000;

• Approved having Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates provide the engineering services for the Riverwood Improvement Project, at a cost of $175,000;

• Authorized the installation of three cobra-styled street lights on 1st Avenue NE, between 1st and 3rd Streets, by White’s Plumbing;

• Introduced an ordinance which would allow abutting property owners to apply for temporary sidewalk closing permits. The current ordinance only allows non-profit organizations to apply for such permits. The proposed ordinance would allow three special events a year, none of which would last longer than three days;

• Approved an agreement with MNDOT, Office of Aeronautics, in which the Little Falls/Morrison County Airport will receive $26,288 a year for maintenance and operations reimbursement costs;

• Authorized the submission of a grant application to CenterPoint Energy Minnegasco for $2,500 to help fund the cleanup of the Hennepin Paper site; and

• Approved an engineering agreement with Widseth Smith Nolting for the installation of utilities in the North Bluff Business Park. Plans are to incorporate the rain garden concept.

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