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Council discusses upgrades to North Cedar Terrace at planning session

By James Grob,

The Charles City Council discussed plans for an upgrade to the electrical service at North Cedar Terrace at Wednesday’s planning session.

The council received three proposals for the proposed upgrade from area architectural/engineering firms to prepare specifications, bidding documents, and assist with procurement and project administration.

The proposals received were from Atura Architecture, for $34,500; Skott and Anderson Architects, for $23,500; and KCL Engineering, for $19,500. The Housing Board reviewed the proposals on Thursday and will make a recommendation.

Heidi Nielsen of the Housing Board was at the planning session and answered questions. She explained that the plan is to do the design work over the winter, go out for bid in the spring with a completion date by fall of 2021. Most of the project will be funded through the 2021 Capital Fund Grant. Depending on the cost, it may be necessary to utilize some program reserves.

Part of the planned electrical upgrade project requires boring or trenching the electrical service primary loop and secondaries to each building, which requires location of the underground utilities. Because the site plans don’t accurately reflect the location of some of the underground utilities, a survey is necessary, and can be utilized on future projects.

Ed Wineinger from Skott & Anderson has prepared a Request for Proposal (RFP) with the scope and requirements of the survey. It is anticipated that the survey will cost $10,000 to $12,000.

The council also discussed a re-zoning request for Michael and Colette Hall for property they own located at 1002 8th Avenue. The area is currently zoned as a general residence district, and the Halls are requesting the parcel’s zoning be changed to a light manufacturing district.

Michael Hall attended the meeting and explained that two storage buildings are currently located on the property and have been for many years. The storage buildings predate the city’s zoning ordinance. Hall would like to construct additional storage buildings and this use is not currently permitted.

The Halls submitted a petition to rezone the property to the planning and zoning commission, which first discussed the request on Sept. 8 and held a public hearing on Oct. 5 and denied the rezoning request. The denial was based on permitted uses allowed in a manufacturing zoning district and their incompatibility adjacent to residential districts, comments received from surrounding property owners, and the current process to rewrite part of the zoning ordinance.

Also at Wednesday’s planning session, Jon Danos, an attorney from Dorsey & Whitney, discussed at great length aspects of a citywide tax abatement program with the council. Community member Josh Mack also told the council that he feels a tax abatement program would benefit the community.

The council has previously discussed the establishment of a tax abatement program for residential housing for new construction or substantial additions to existing properties. Wednesday’s discussion was called “a collective first step by the council to discuss the concept and find a way forward in the discussion.”

The council was informed that the incentive would be a reduction for a number of years of a percentage of the additional taxes caused by improving the property and increasing its value. The state has established tax abatement plans that can be adopted. Danos walked the council through the various options and processes.

In other business on Wednesday, the council discussed the need to renew the agreement with the City Improvement Association (CIA) and the need to renew the lease with the Charles City Arts Council (CCAC) for the Carnegie Building. Tyler Mitchell was in attendance to discuss the CIA agreement and Linda Wolff was present to discuss the CCAC lease.