By Anna Jauhola
The Hallock City Council discussed two major projects during its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 2 – the impending street project set for 2024 and a proposed housing development project.
Jon Pauna, of Moore Engineering, visited the meeting to update the council on the next steps for this street project to move forward. In 2021, the city worked with Moore Engineering to create a capital improvements plan (CIP) and narrowed in on five sections of streets throughout Hallock that are major problem areas. In order of importance, they are Fourth Street South, Third Street South, Fifth Street South, North Douglas Avenue and Holly Avenue.
Pauna said most cities assess property owners to pay for major street projects. For Hallock to do that, they must follow the Chapter 429 process, Special Assessment Rules.
“That’s going to entail me putting together a preliminary engineering report (PER), specifically about this project,” he said. “And also to start to calculate what the potential cost is to the individual lots. That’s probably the biggest part of that report right now, is giving them a reasonable estimate of what the cost may be.”
In conjunction with that, Pauna said they need to begin surveying those locations so they can start designing the project this winter and ideally open bids in February.
“That way, we have most of the contractors looking for work and this gives them time if we award it to be ready to go in May,” Pauna said.
Estimates so far for each section are as follows: Fourth Street South, $1.7 million, four blocks; Third Street South, $410,000, one block; Fifth Street South, $985,000, two and a half blocks; North Douglas Avenue, $2.2 million, about six blocks; Holly Avenue, $600,000, two blocks.
Pauna said the projects would include only one layer of asphalt in 2024 and allow one year for that to settle before the contractor would complete the second layer.
Pauna will complete the PER and present it at the November council meeting, after which they will schedule a first public hearing. The hearing is specifically to address property owners’ assessments, but is open to all members of the public.
If the council decides to go ahead with the full project, the estimated cost at this time is $5.89 million. Each section of road has utilities underneath. The approximate costs for the PER and surveying together will be around $30,000, Pauna said.
The council made no decisions, but sent Pauna on his way to complete the PER and begin the surveying process. He plans to return for the November meeting with more information.
Housing development
The council discussed and tabled two land purchase requests within the southeast housing addition. Tage and Connie Johnson wanted to purchase two extra lots to accompany the lots they purchased in September, and Terry and Joan Osowski wanted to purchase a portion of a lot to the south of their property. Mayor Dave Treumer exited this conversation as he had a conflict with both parties.
The council discussed whether one homeowner needs more than four lots for one house, with Councilor Kevin Waller noting the purpose of the addition is to bring in more houses. The council asked Clerk/Administrator Aimee Sugden to do more research into whether the city set limits on how many lots a person can purchase. Sugden pointed out most homes in the addition are on three lots, but a few are on five or six lots. Waller suggested if there isn’t a rule limiting the number of lots sold at a time for one home, that might have to change.
“I think that’s what we’re going to have to find out. And I think that’s where we’re going to have to go with this right now – establish that,” Waller said.
Before the council addressed the second land purchase request, they wanted to hear from Robert Carr and Jay Friedt, who plan to develop several homes on lots in the addition. With a majority vote, the council amended the agenda and moved Carr and Friedt up because their proposal affects the second request.
Carr, who owns Carr Landscaping and Construction in Hallock, is partnering with Friedt and others to fund the project and move it along as quickly as possible. The duo explained they want to purchase 20 lots from the city on which to develop up to 10 houses over the next five years. These will not be custom homes, but spec homes built to be affordable housing.
“The housing committee met with this group in September,” Sugden said. The housing committee was really interested in it and gave them some marching orders in what we think is the best way to approach it.”
The 20 lots are on the north side of 12th Street, the gravel road that runs by the Hallock Fire Hall, and straddles the undeveloped north/south road.
“The vision Jay and I have on it is a build-out of houses – we need to divide the light commercial and residential,” Carr said.
He said the major hurdle for this project is developing the road, which they hope the city will take care of, possibly using a tax increment financing district to fund it. A TIF district captures new money generated by increased property values. Developing the road also includes installing utilities from the lines along 12th Street.
“We did meet with Jason Murray, who is our financial TIF adviser, and walked through those scenarios as well and he confirmed that’s what the TIF dollars would be used for,” Sugden said.
Carr said he and Friedt figured their group would purchase the 20 lots and then sell to the Osowskis the portion of the lot they are interested in afterward.
There was no formal action as this was all preliminary discussion regarding the project.
In other business, the council:
• Approved corrected minutes from the Monday, Aug. 7 meeting, which did not cite the Minnesota Statute required for closing a meeting for attorney-client privilege, and had incorrect costs for the city’s allocation for Northwest Regional Library. The 2023 number was $15,917 and with a 3 percent increase, the city’s allocation for 2024 will be $16,395.
• Approved a resolution to allow the Hallock Fire Department to join the Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Plan through the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). Sugden said the firefighters’ current retirement funds will roll into the PERA.
• Closed the meeting at 6 p.m. according to Minnesota Statute 13D.05, subd. 3(b) to consult with attorney Kendra Olson, of Pemberton Law, regarding pending litigation/mediation about the airport hangar project. The council reopened the meeting at 6:15 p.m.
The next regular meeting is set for Monday, Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m.