Seven public hearings set for Little Falls City Council’s Feb. 6 meeting

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
[email protected]

The next Little Falls City Council meeting may be a busy one; that is if residents show up to voice their opinions during any one of  seven public hearings slated for the evening, Monday, Feb. 6.

Five of the public hearings are for proposed road projects in 2012. At its Jan. 3 meeting, the Council voted unanimously for the feasibility studies to be conducted at a cost of $4,000.

The total cost of the five road projects, if approved, comes to about $784,000, with about $432,000 of that expected to be paid by the city.

The proposed road projects include:

• Surface and utility improvements on Seventh Avenue Southwest between Eighth and 10th streets Southwest, with estimated costs at $142,774. Approximately $118,174 of that will be paid for by the city and $24,600 assessed to affected property owners;

• Improvement of Third Avenue Southeast and extended surface and utilities between 18th Street Southeast and approximately 200 feet east of 18th Street Southeast, at a cost of $64,748. This cost would be split between the city and property owners, at $32,374 each;

• Utility improvements on Eighth Avenue Southwest from Eighth Street to Ninth Street Southwest, at an estimated cost of $79,901. The city would pick up $67,901 of the costs;

• Surface and utility improvements on First Street Northwest between Broadway and First Avenue Northwest, which runs by the Cass Gilbert Depot. The costs for this project are estimated at $211,194. The city’s share of that is estimated at $114,505; and

• Utility extension on future Heron Road (old Highway 371) with surface and/or utility improvements.

This project would include not only surface and utility improvements, but also the addition of road and curb, gutter, sanitary sewer mains and sewer service lines, water mains and water service lines extending from a point on Heron Road approximately 1,183 feet north of the north right of way of Pine Avenue to a point approximately 1,636 feet east and parallel to the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad tracks north of Little Falls.

The Council is considering this project as the site may be valuable to the city as a future recreation area.

This project would coincide with a Minnesota Department of Transportation request for such improvements to be made for a truck maintenance station.

The sixth public hearing is regarding an ordinance granting CenterPoint Energy a nonexclusive franchise to conduct business in the city. The city’s current franchise agreement with CenterPoint Energy expires in March.

The last public hearing is to extend the terms of the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) grant through the Department of Employment and Economic Development for Larson Boats for another year. The grant was given with a jobs goal that has not yet been met.

Little Falls City Council Briefs

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the Little Falls City Council:

• Approved a gambling permit for a June 30 event, for the Boys and Girls Club of Morrison County;

• Approved the purchase of a 2012 Dodge Charger, V8, with rear-wheel drive, at a cost of $23,745. Police Chief Greg Schirmers recommended this purchase as the vehicle was the least expensive of the three choices and the only one that can be serviced locally;

• Denied a rezoning request from Raquel and Scott Lundberg to rezone the Waller House Inn on Third Street Southeast from resident to business to expand their bed and breakfast to include restaurant or cafe use. The Planning Commission recommended the denial, because this type of spot zoning could create problems in the future. The Council sent the request back to Planning Commission to look at ways to accommodate the request such as with a conditional use permit;

• Approved orderly annexation of property owned Dennis and Marvin Zettel for a proposed “Zettel’s Golf View Addition.” The property is located in Little Falls Township near the intersection of Hilton Road and Thomas Drive. The Council also approved rezoning the property to one and two family residential, upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission;  and

• During its work session, heard that Little Falls resident Robin Hensel had called City Hall to request she be allowed to place signs in her yard that she was asked to remove in accordance with the city’s sign ordinance, which she called unconstitutional. Hensel had also requested the Council name a public venue within the city where demonstrations could be held. The city’s sign ordinance is under review with the help of City Attorney Toni Wetzel.

The Little Falls City Council will next meet Monday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. Prior to the regular meeting, the Council will hold its work session at 6:30 p.m.