Siren Village Council continues to clarify the details of their new housing development and how best to move forward and hopefully generate interest in selling the lots.
The board had launched several issues regarding the property in Tewalt Road, on the south side of the village.
The village acts as the developer and pilots the initial aspects of the project, and although they handled much of the initial planning and permitting issues, the actual cost of the development relied heavily on estimates and calculations, which makes it difficult to define. the sale prices of the lots, as they want to make it both attractive for development but not cost the village an excess amount, up front.
At their last full board meeting on July 7, Eric Barclay of MSA Engineering went over some of the likely costs of Tewalt’s development, in part so they can start pricing the sale per lot. and downstream utility and infrastructure costs. Village administrator Sara Reimann-Hill is working on a brochure to promote the development, but needed at least ballpark figures to put in the brochure to ‘own’ a property and what the actual costs of the lot or of the plot.
“I guess that would be a step forward, to find out what interest we have,” village chairman Dave Alden said. “I think the Planning Commission and Council are in favor of a staged development, closest to Tewalt Road. Maybe ten left and ten right or whatever, starting far behind.
Reimann-Hill said they plan to spread the word via social media, to see what kind of interest they might have in the development.
“Just to go fishing, see if we have any answers,” Reimann-Hill said, suggesting that the $500 proposed price to ‘hold’ a lot might confuse some people into thinking that was the final cost, which which would be much higher, at the end, with final utility works and the like.
According to Barclay, the MSA looked at the likely upfront costs and suggested that if the village only wanted to assess the costs of the water and sewer hookups and set-up, that would bring the valuation for each lot to around $30,000. However, if all the real costs were taken into account – such as road construction, engineering, storm water control, etc. – the overall estimated cost of each lot would be approximately $60,000.
Administrator James Pearson suggested making the $500 “detention fee” non-refundable. “In case it all falls apart,” Pearson said with a shrug.
It was also suggested that the village personally contact local developers to weigh up interest within the community.
“I really don’t like the idea of the village developing this property,” trustee Rick Engstrom said. “You just don’t know what kind of time is coming…wait and see what happens…we don’t want to stay with the bag.”
Reimann also suggested that the village create a second promotional flyer/brochure to share with the developers, to see if they want to take over the overall project, instead of the village.
The village council has also been made aware of an issue with the development of their industrial park, next to the pending Molly Engstrom Drive, on the west side of the village.
Apparently part of the property was not included in MNR’s initial review of the project.
Barclay said the area set aside for access to the industrial park – Molly Engstrom Drive – was not included in their initial stormwater control review for ADN approval, specifically a wetland area near the proposed park , btu outside the initial perimeter of the plan.
“Basically the DNR went out and looked at the site and said (the wetland) nearby … is part of this development because it is so close,” Barclay said, adding that due to the proximity to the wetland they will need to develop a storm water management plan for the area near the wetland. and the entrance road.
In the end, the council approved an amendment to its contract with the MSA to develop a technical stormwater and erosion control plan for the wetland near the entrance, to gain permission from the MRN, which the board unanimously approved.
In other village affairs:
• Council considered a request from the nearby Big Doctor Lake Association to partner with the village on a grant application to address so-called “legacy phosphorus” in the waters of the lake. The lake is just west of the village and the grant application is due in November and having the village as a partner will greatly help them in the ranking of the application and the likelihood of being granted, which requires a 25% local match , with the DNR covering the remaining 75% of the costs, which did not yet have a cost estimate or proposed solution.
Phosphorus is a major threat to water quality and is a major cause of “greening” and algal blooms, which significantly affect lake quality. Although some phosphorus can occur naturally, high levels usually come from a combination of runoff from farms and lawn and garden fertilizers used near the shore. The DNR classifies Big Doctors Lake as “eutrophic”, meaning it has higher than normal phosphorus levels, which can also lead to fish depletion due to reduced oxygen levels and algal blooms.
It was unclear what the village’s long-term financial commitment would be, but the council approved the request, with an amount to be determined in the future.
The lake association hopes to find other municipal partners to participate in the subsidy and phosphorus reduction effort.
• Council had a lengthy discussion with Andy Hursch, who hopes to develop a prefabricated housing community on the north end of the village, but he said he received conflicting feedback from the municipalities and the neighboring health district. Hursch hopes the village will assure the state that it is more than capable of handling effluent from the proposed development and has requested a letter from them showing this. After some discussion, the board approved that their engineer write a letter for the state, showing that he can handle the extra flow.
• Chief Constable Chris Sybers discussed a proposal for the village to sponsor a recruit from the police academy, which council approved.
Chief Sybers also introduced new police officer Brady Mangen to the board and also provided an update on contract patrol work with the nearby towns of Meenon and Oakland, where they will be offering police patrols. Sybers said there was still work to be done in the town of Meenon to adopt village ordinances for enforcement, but said they had started patrols and closely monitored expenses and hours for the additional patrol work.