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April 17, 2021

2/19/2021 10:32:00 AM
Nuisance ordinance fine-tuned; Muddy Cow to open this spring

North Branch has adopted a nuisance ordinance that staff assured city council will now provide the city the proper tools to address parcels generating complaints. The ordinance “eliminates ambiguity” according to City Administrator Renae Fry, who reminded council members last week that the city’s been working on this updated ordinance for quite some time.

The process will still be complaint-based, city council was advised.  City staff aren’t going to hit the streets looking for properties that have strayed from the allowed conditions in the ordinance.  

The city accepts written complaints in person or on-line.  Complainants are kept anonymous.

Nate Sondrol, city zoning division, said in the past the process may result in the city writing a ticket and the property owner simply would not show up for court.  There were “a handful’ of files opened, where the defendant just didn’t care, he added. The city took every course of action it could under the former ordinance wording, but some situations could not be remedied. Working with legal counsel and city staff the ordinance that was adopted 4-0 (Kathy Blomquist was absent) is the final product.  The full ordinance text is at city hall or the library for review, a summary only gets published.

Council also voted 4-0 (Kathy Blomquist absent) to hire Ehlers Consultants to create a housing subsidy assistance policy. Council will review the product later.

The policy is necessary to serve as foundation for considering housing project aid, and conditions under which aid can be allowed, and it defines the process used to qualify.

The council put the not to exceed contract amount for the policy work at $4,650.

Developers INH and BJ Baas asked council if members would be agreeable to accepting an application for Tax Increment Financing  aid for a housing project they have proposed, before the policy is adopted.  There is reportedly a financing deadline in play, and the developers wanted consensus of council that the city would allow the application without the policy.

Council said they could not support this. Council members called this request “premature” and the city would be irresponsible to do this in advance of having policy.    

On a 4-0 vote the request was turned down.  Mayor Jim Swenson noted the builders can come back later, when the city has all its  background work complete.

Paxmar, the firm behind the huge multi-year residential plat going in on the north end of town, was approved for its request to revise the current development agreement.  Park dedication fees were put aside tied to an area of  acreage that qualified as a credit zone, with a maximum of 591 units.  In return, Paxmar gave North Branch a five acre lot for a park in this neighborhood and $340,000 for improvements.  When this now-expanded building credit area has been used up, the development agreement reverts back to payments of park dedication fees for building permits, in full.

Paxmar has constructed 63 units out of the credit allotted and there are 90 pending in the imminent Phase II.

In permits and license approvals, regional restaurant chain Muddy Cow was okayed for a liquor license, based on its plans to run a franchise in the former Oak Inn.  Opening is slated for later this spring, the council packet application stated.

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