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Charles City Council approves county rep on Planning and Zoning board

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

The Charles City Council unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance to allow a county representative to serve on Charles City’s Planning and Zoning Board at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Over the last seven years, it’s been difficult to keep a full group of seven on the Planning and Zoning commission,” said City Administrator Steve Diers. “There is a sphere of influence outside the city limits in which the city has some say-so over certain developments.”

The ordinance means the council will now allow one member who lives within two miles of the city on the commission. Currently all members must live within city limits.

“There are a lot of reasons to think that it makes sense to have a county representative here,” Diers said. “We talked a number of times about annexation, so it might be helpful to have someone in the county, within the two miles.”

The Planning and Zoning committee is responsible for making recommendations to the City Council, which makes the ultimate zoning decisions.

Diers said that board member Larry Johnson recently passed away, and Emily Garden will need to resign as she is moving outside of city limits. He said those losses come at a critical time, as Planning and Zoning is working on a major city code updates with a private consultant.

He added that several other boards have a member who lives outside the city limits, and stressed that the commission member doesn’t have to be someone who lives outside the city limits, but the amendment would allow him or her to be.

Diers has reached out to colleagues in other communities and learned that Forest City, Centerville, Treynor and Carlisle all allow at least one member from outside their city limits, while the cities of Spencer, Harlan, Decorah, Guttenberg, Independence and Indianola do not.

He said that since Planning and Zoning advises and recommends and is not a judiciary entity, he was comfortable with the change.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved a development agreement for a proposed 70-unit senior living facility in town.

Mark Holtkamp approached the city last spring with plans to construct a senior living facility east of the Floyd County Medical Center that will eventually house assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and separate independent living accommodations. The property will be accessible from both 11th Street and South Main Street. The facility will be called Birkwood Village.

The council passed a resolution in July adding the area at the southeast corner of the intersection of South Main Street and 11th Street to the South Grand Urban Renewal Area, meaning the project can use tax increment financing (TIF) from that district.

The city and Holtkamp tentatively agreed on a tax rebate incentive to help finance the project, which would return to Holtkamp 100% of the additional property taxes created by upgrading the property, for 10 years, up to a maximum of $2 million.

The tax rebates would start after the project is finished, and the package is constructed so it only impacts the city’s debt capacity one year at a time.

The proposal calls for a 100% tax rebate over 10 years, which would generate somewhere between $1.7 million and $2 million in eligible taxes for rebate. The agreement provides for a total rebate of $2 million over 10 years, whichever comes first.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

• Approved a facade request in the amount of $564.08, submitted by Dr. Angela VanGilder, for the building at 204 N. Main. The project includes signage for the front and back of the building as well as the doors. This building is owned by Cindy Uetz. VanGilder recently opened Cedar Soleil Med Spa — which provides aesthetic and laser services — in space provided by Main Street Drug.

• Approved an updated water usage agreement with Valero, which had expired in December. The new 2½-year agreement for supplying water will be at a price of $1.80 per 1,000 gallons used. Valero, per the agreement, will need to purchase at minimum 100 million gallons per year. The agreement covers initial six months until July 1, 2021, at which point the water rate per 1,000 gallons will increase based on the change in the Consumer Price Index.

• Approved a change order for water tower painting, adding “Charles City” lettering a second time on the tower. The increase for this change order is $4,500.

• Approved a payment request of $1,515,359.68 for Portzen Construction for continuing work on the Water Resource Recovery Facility project. The costs include continued work on the headworks building and the reed beds. This large payment request also includes stored material for the generator and oxidation ditch equipment.

• Approved the demolition of property at 806 North Grand Avenue, which the city acquired last year. Plans are being made to demolish the existing house and detached garage, remove the basement and foundation, and leave a clean lot available for in-fill development. Popp Excavating of Osage was awarded the contract, with a bid of $12,550. A total of eight bids were received for the project.

• Approved temporary easements, which are needed on both sides of the highway at the Charley Western Trail crossing as part of the Highway 18 HMA Overlay Project.

• Approved a traffic control device agreement with the Department of Transportation for the placement of traffic signals at Clark Street and North Grand Avenue intersection with Highway 18 and at F Street and Highway 18.

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