The city of Medford cleared the way for a developer to build a new duplex on a vacant lot on the corner of Conrad Dr. and S. Park Ave. in Medford.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members voted unanimously to approve the rezoning request to turn it from a single family home lot to a one and two family home lot. This will allow developer Joe Strama to purchase it from Charlene Doyle with the intent to build a higher-end duplex on the property.
“I want to build something with higher quality,” Strama said, noting he already has people who want to rent it. The units will each have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and it will be designed to meet the needs of retirees and older individuals with accessibility.
Council member Laura Holmes questioned if anyone from the city had reached out to the two neighbors who objected by email to the rezoning request at the planning commission to see if there was any more reason as to why they opposed it.
Mayor Mike Wellner said he was unsure if anyone did, noting that often the city planner will talk with residents if there are questions or concerns. He said the residents had the option to come to the council meeting, but only Strama and Doyle were there to talk about the project.
Council member Randy Haynes asked about the size of the lot in question noting it appeared to be two lots. Strama said that while the lot is large, the southern portion of it goes into wetland and is not buildable. He said he only plans to build one duplex on the property.
Sewer project
The city of Medford is planning ahead for a construction project to improve the headworks for the city wastewater treatment plant.
Plant superintendent Alex Zenner said with changes in the community block grant rules, they must have complete building plans in hand before being eligible to apply for the CDBG funds. According to city coordinator Joe Harris if the city spends $1.5 million, the CDBG will give them $1 million, if the city receives the grant funding. In addition, the city will be applying for a clean water fund grant through the Department of Natural Resources. If accepted, the project would be eligible for 50% debt forgiveness. Combined these two programs would greatly minimize the cost of the project for rate payers.
Council member Ken Coyer asked about the impact out of city haulers have on the operation and finances of the plant.
“The rates we have are because of the haulers,” Zenner said.
Zenner explained that in 2022, 38% of the revenue from the plant was from haulers amounting to about $700,000 in revenues. He said the amount is higher for 2023. He also noted that a few of the larger industrial users have put water conservation measures in their plants and that the normal in-city usage has gone down.
Zenner said the project includes a large tank where waste from haulers will be dumped during the day and then fed into the treatment plant during the overnight hours when the city’s flows are generally lower. This will allow the plant to continue operating at a steady level greatly improving efficiency.
“We will be able to get some pretty decent savings from that,” Zenner said.
Zenner said the city is seeing an increase in hauling because the plant is large enough to accommodate them and that it doesn’t cost the city a lot of extra money to treat that waste.
Council members voted unanimously to hire Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) to design a new headworks for the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The design work will cost $461,000 with the money to come from the utility’s capital improvement fund.
The design work is to be prepared for a potential future project and be able to submit for grant and state funding opportunities. Harris noted these require the engineering to be 90% or more complete before submitting. The cost of the eventual project is projected to be about $3 million.
In other business, council members:
  Approved setting the split for hotel/motel room tax revenue at 85% to the room tax commission for awarding tourism grants and the city retaining 15%. The city backed away from a plan to set aside funds specifically for performers in the band shell, with Harris noting there have been groups coming forward interested in working on this and he said those groups could then go through the normal room tax grant request process to get funds.
  Approved a change in the fees charged by the city in locating public records. City clerk Ashley Lemke explained that most normal requests for records which may take only 5 to 10 minutes to locate will not be impacted by the new schedule, but it will be for larger and more detailed requests. She said they have a request they are working on that has asked for election information going back to 2018 for every election held. “It is geared to more complex requests,” Lemke said. She said the intent is to make sure the city is being compensated accurately for the amount of time it takes staff to get the information.
  Approved naming RCU to the list of official city depositories.
  Approved granting a beer license to Sayda Mendoza, with La Chapinita at 149 South Main Street. The license would be for the period beginning July 19, 2023, and ending June 30, 2024. This would allow for the sale and consumption of malt-based beverages.
  Approved granting Northern Dumpster LLC a refuse collection/recycling hauler’s license for the period beginning retroactively to July 1, and ending June 30, 2024.
  Approved private well permits for Pam Ouimette at 1091 N. Shattuck St. and for two wells by Sierra Pacific at 575 S. Whelen.
  Received word that the city was able to sell at auction a utility bucket truck for $69,000. Harris noted that when the city purchased the truck 10 years ago, the cost was about $90,000.
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