Hearing looked a potential assessments

By Jenna Baker


Prior to the regularly scheduled December Ottertail City Council meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss the assessment of the Happy Acres Development.

Bob Schlieman of Apex Engineering was present to explain the project and how the assessments have been determined. He explained that the total cost of the project was $235,074.46, which included adding watermain, water services and a street with cul-de-sac. 

He noted that the city’s assessment policy for extending infrastructure to areas that were not previously developed calls for 100 percent of costs to be assessed to the property including costs for constructions, professional services, testing and administration. 

Schlieman explained that the rates are calculated by dividing the total assessable cost by the total assessable parcels. This comes out to $20,410.02 per parcel with the Ottertail Methodist Church only being assessed for the street at $10,564.02 as they already had water services in place. 

Congregation members of the Ottertail Methodist Church were present, expressing wonder if they should be fully assessed for the street when they already had some infrastructure in place. They also noted that the Happy Acres development could be an asset for the church, explaining that they want to work with the city to get the lots sold to bring new people into Ottertail and potentially their church. 

In the regularly scheduled meeting, councilmember Michael Windey threw out the number of decreasing the church’s assessment by $5,000 and the rest of the council, as well as the church members present, were pleased with this updated figure. A motion was passed to amend the resolution to decrease the assessments for the Ottertail Methodist Church by $5,000. The costs assessed to the other parcels of the development will remain the same. 

Also at the meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the coffee shop with a drive thru proposed for the north end of the building at 231 Minnesota Highway 78, also known as the mini-mall. The drive thru will be on the north end of the building, just south of the city hall, with traffic moving from east to west.

City Clerk Elaine Hanson explained that the city plans to lease out 15 feet of property needed for the drive thru, with terms yet to be determined. She explained that the Interim Use Permit (IUP) will run the lengths of the lease and would be up for renewal as needed. 

The city council discussed that it’s a great opportunity for the city of Ottertail to bring a coffee shop to the community. The IUP was approved unanimously with numerous agreed upon conditions, including putting the drive thru area back to its original condition should the business no longer be in use and that zoning applications would be required for commercial property for changes to the building.

The final public hearing at the November meeting was regarding a public nuisance at 101 North Lake Avenue, noting that the residence has been notified numerous times to clean up the property. A letter was sent in October notifying the owner of the hearing. The council noted that this is something they have to deal with and approved a motion to proceed with the enforcement. Next step is for the city to hire someone to clean up the property and the cost would be billed to the property owner. 

Traci Ryan of Ryan Consulting was present to discuss the possibility of opening up the Happy Acres Development to spec home developers. 

Mayor Ron Grobeck shared that he feels as if putting a spec home there might increase interest in buying and building on the lots. 

Ryan noted that some updating to the policies could be beneficial to help sell and develop the lots. The council noted that they believe the lack of interest so far calls for opening it up for spec homes. Going forward, Ryan will work with the city to see how best to adjust the application and policies, keeping the covenants in place to ensure the standard of homes built is still kept as the city previously approved. Discussion for how to further market the lots will also take place.