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November 18, 2018

2/2/2018 11:09:00 AM
North Branch Council gives a couple new plats go-ahead

The North Branch City Council last week, minus Council member Robert Canada:  approved two plats, got the city enrolled in the GreenStep Cities program, and okayed purchase of a police patrol car.  

The council veered from a recommended purchase of the Interceptor AWD vehicle from Hibbing Ford,  and accepted the quote from Anderson & Koch, the local dealership, for about $1,000 more than the official state dealership bid from the company in Hibbing.  

Council consensus was unanimous that when there’s a nominal difference in price-- the council should “Shop Local.”  Anderson & Koch came in at $29,991 fully equipped. The vehicle is budgeted for 2018.

North Branch’s Strategic Plan was also enacted as a guiding principle for the council unanimously.

It lays direction for goals and action items over the next few years, such as:

~In 2018 the Minnesota Design Team will make a visit to brainstorm with the public and city officials on elements to improve the city.  

~ There will be action on starting and finishing the Hemingway Avenue realignment and new intersection at #95.  This is being done in  partnership with a developer, the county and the state.

~ Also the city wants to update the Parks Comprehensive Plan.

~ As adopted last week implement the GreenStep Cities program.  GreenStep is a litany of projects, policy, and  action items to improve how “green” the city is.  North Branch, for example, a paperless agenda and minutes document system. Land Uses, transportation, economic development and lighting and utilities can all be influenced through participation in Green Steps Cities.

Wyoming and Stacy have also enrolled in GreenStep Cities.  There are 118 cities enrolled in Minnesota.

2018 building potential
Plats approved by council for new housing include Wood Duck Ponds (fourth addition) for 19 single family home lots.  The neighborhood is going in west of Hemingway and south of 376th.  It is adjacent to much wetland area so the lot size and setback (40 foot back from wetland) and other considerations, were custom-addressed using a PUD or Planned Unit Development.  Development owner Paxmar actually got nearly final approval in 2017 but didn’t record the layout or plat it.  WDP3 LLC is the developer.

Cherokee Place south of 400th at Fletcher, is to be townhomes in the first phase and 14 single family houses platted seperately along the south end of the neighborhood, at 399th.  Commonwealth is the developer and described townhouses laid out for the city-owned land and the city EDA requested the PUD for this project. The public hearing was January 2 at the Planning Commission meeting.  Council was advised this hearing gave shape to many conditions of the developer--regarding tree line protection, installation of sidewalks, dedicating property for the extension of Fletcher southward to the city, and extra large (12,000 feet square) single family lots as a buffer to the southerly existing neighbohood.

Cherokee Place is 48 townhome units and is an affordable community being made possible through state workforce housing agency help. (See Press story October 28 2017.)

The council approved a new business Heather’s Helping Hands in the 6448 Mainstreet building. This is a massage-therapist enterprise.

Also-- the school district and grant funds make possible a new community event offering free family movie nights at the high school auditorium.  
“North Branch Goes to the Movies” features Fiddler on the Roof during WinterFest, Parent Trap is being shown March 14, ET is on the big auditorium screen in June, Jungle Book in September and Mary Poppins plays during Fall Festival.  
Community Education provides popcorn and refreshments.

State Representative Brian Johnson attended the city council meeting last week and spoke briefly during open microphone.  

He said he is gearing up for the 2018 session and has heard alot about broadband needs, concerns that taxes are hurting agricultural parcel owners, the fentanyl drug scourge must be addressed, and sex trafficking issues need attention.  

He welcomes anybody with suggestions or concerns to contact his office.  He is also serving in the upcoming session as “acting chair” of the House Public Safety Commmittee,  in light of the resignation of former chair Rep. Tony Cornish.

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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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