A primary goal outlined by the city of Watertown is to attract more senior and affordable housing to the community.
At a meeting last Tuesday, May 28, the city council granted a waiver from some city fees for a property at 116 Angel Avenue SW as encouragement and support for a proposed project to turn it into a four-unit townhome rental property targeted at individuals age 55 or older.
The developer, Nishul Patel, principle with Amba Homes, had requested a waiver for both building permit and sewer/water trunk charges and meter fees to make the project economically viable, but the council arrived on a compromise resolution for waiving just the sewer/water fees – about $30,000 in value.
That came after considerable discussion on a 3-2 vote with council members Mike Walters and Adam Pawelk expressing concerns that with rent anticipated at almost $1,650 per month the proposed housing was “not truly affordable.” The pair also expressed concerns that the action could be precedent-setting in terms of other developers coming to the city requesting fee waivers.
Still, the proposed rents are within federal Housing & Urban Development index rates for Carver County, city administrator Shane Fineran noted. And speaking in favor of the proposal Mayor Steve Washburn said, “While its not a perfect rental property this sends a message that we are willing to work with the developer, and the benefits go directly to our residents.”
The resolution requires that the developer enter into an agreement with the city on rental conditions, guaranteeing rental for ages 55 or older at affordable rates for at least five years or the city will recoup the waived fees.
In related business, the council instructed staff to work with a property owner at 800 Angel Ave SW to connect to city sewer and water. The property was annexed by the city in 2013, but had had multiple owners and never was connected to city utilities as required by municipal code. Now, Carver County Environmental Services has served notice that the existing septic system is failing and needs to be removed or replaced. The city’s position is a connection should be made to the sanitary sewer rather than a new septic system installed, so staff was instructed to work with the property owner on making a connection to the system.
The council also addressed parking provisions related to Mario’s Italian Kitchen food truck, which could potentially be in violation of existing municipal parking code regarding unattended vehicles. The council developed staff to develop a policy and permits to deal with unique parking issues like the food truck.