At its May 25 meeting, the St. Michael City Council discussed a future expansion of St. Michael Catholic Church and revising the fees associated with high density projects in town.

The council also heard from Wright County Commissioner Mary Wetter, who thanked the city for joining the county EDA. She also addressed a concern of City Administrator Steven Bot, as the city was recently notified that all appraisers would need to physically commute to the county office each day to enter their data. This matter will be discussed by the Wright County Board on June 15.

The council also received a report from Wright County Deputy Dustin Hazenbeller, who said juvenile disturbance calls are increasing again as we head into summer, and clarified the city’s ordinance on ATVs. Staff will follow-up and discuss this item at a later meeting.

CATHOLIC CHURCH EXPANSION

At its May 5 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed and held a public hearing regarding a potential expansion of the st. Michael Catholic Church. The proposed expansion would consist of a 30,969 foot addition with a kitchen, gym, pre-school, office space and a “unity Hall.”

This expansion is conditional on improving the access points and traffic flows to and from the property, and thus the developers suggested moving the eastern access to allow for “battery spacing” and “improved safety” compared to the initial design.

Ron Spoden from the church said May 25 this alternative alignment is 188 feet from the center of the Westbridge entrance, which would give more room for the opposing left turns. Community Development Director Marc Weigle also mentioned that in the long-term, a median could also be added.

David Ferry, the church’s Parish Business Administrator, explained some of the other benefits of this new access as well.

“Most importantly, the proposed route sub-optimizes the future development of our property,” he explains. “Our proposed route leaves 7.44 contiguous acres to the north of the drive, whereas the city’s route would reduce the buildable acreage to 6.65 acres.”

“This is incremental space that will become crucial to us as we look to move our school to our campus in coming years.”

Additionally, this plan would reduce construction costs by about $16,000, according to Ferry. The council also discussed running a traffic study, and Weigle said they would revisit this if/when the school is officially proposed.

The amended conditional use permit and site plan for the expansion were ultimately approved.

FEE REVIEW - HIGH DENSITY PROJECTS

Following a discussion with Rebecca Kurtz from financial planning company Ehlers, Weigle proposed the idea of reducing sewer and water fees for high density projects given their efficiency compared to a single-family unit. This is especially true in the summer months due to the density and shared greenspaces between units.

Weigle determined that, compared to other cities, a 20% reduction for water, sewer and trunk fees would be reasonable, and since the council cannot change the Joint Powers Water Board fees, would result in a total 16% decrease for identified properties. Weigle said that there have been housing developers in the past that were deterred by the cities’ fees, and this change could potentially draw more development.

Council member Tom Hamilton asked if this change would also pertain to senior housing, which Weigle confirmed. The council eventually decided to reduce these fees for both apartment complexes and senior housing to be 80% of a single family unit, and the amended fee schedule will be voted on at the next meeting.

OTHER

APPROVED a wetland permit for the Foxtail Meadows project.

DISCUSSED the proposed roundabout in front of the Foxtail Meadows project, which would also have overhead power poles in the center. The developer said they are hoping to wait until 2023 to move forward, effectively allowing more time to come up with a functional design.

AUTHORIZED two new positions for city staff, one a receptionist and rental coordinator, and the other a planning, engineering, and communications assistant.

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