By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake City Administrator Jennifer Nash submitted a letter of resignation to the city council during Tuesday’s meeting. She will be taking a job with the City of Buffalo, and her last day with Howard Lake will be Tuesday, Sept. 18.
Nash has been Howard Lake’s city administrator since October 2014. Prior to that, she served as interim city administrator following the departure of Nick Haggenmiller, who was the city’s administrator from July 2012 to August 2014.
Nash was hired as the city’s deputy clerk in January 2013.
The council will discuss a plan for replacing Nash at its next workshop meeting.
Dutch Lake assessments
The council adopted a resolution which determines the reassessment amount and terms for properties that went into tax forfeiture and were recently purchased in the Dutch Lake Preserve development.
It also conducted a public hearing prior to adopting the resolution, at which there were no residents to contest the assessments.
The council determined the reassessment amount, $10,000 per parcel, at its May 19, 2015 meeting, shortly before the lots were purchased, according to Nash.
The assessments on the properties will be divided over a 10-year period with a 4.5 percent interest rate.
“All of the tax forfeited properties in Dutch Lake Preserve were purchased,” Nash said.
Animals in town debate
Howard Lake resident Joy Decker approached the council with concern over its recent decision to enforce an ordinance that prohibits farm animals within city limits.
“We got a letter regarding our animals,” she stated. “But our children are in 4-H, and need those animals for educational purposes.”
The Deckers have chickens, goats, and other animals that are a part of the 4H activities in which the family participates.
“4-H is so good for our children,” Decker noted. “Children in 4-H are more likely to finish high school and attend college; and less likely to get into trouble.”
“When we moved to town, we looked into the city ordinances, and there was a provision for animals that are for 4-H,” Decker said.
Nash noted that there is a way to register animals with the city for educational organizations.
“I don’t recall there being anything that specifically states 4-H, but there are provisions for education organizations for sure,” Nash commented.
Decker insisted that when her family moved to town four or five years ago, there was a portion of the ordinance that specifically included 4-H.
“We haven’t actually changed the ordinance,” Nash replied. “We are just enforcing it now.”
Decker questioned why the city council decided to enforce the ordinance, and said her family has never heard complaints.
She asked what kind of complaints are received, if any, about animals in town.
“We do get complaints at city hall, mostly about smell,” Nash stated.
There are things that can be done to make the animals less stressful for neighbors, according to Decker.
She offered to make changes to chicken areas to reduce smell, such as installing a concrete floor.
“If it’s people at the baseball field complaining, they’re only there a couple hours,” Decker commented. “And they have no problem coming in my yard to get foul balls.”
People going into the Deckers’ yard to retrieve foul balls has nothing to do with the animal issue, Mayor Pete Zimmerman noted.
“We have people come here for tournaments from other towns, and even if it’s only for a couple hours, we don’t want them to leave with the memory of a smelly baseball field area,” he added.
The council agreed to discuss how to register animals, what animals would be allowed, and what educational organizations will fit into the provision.
“We will figure it out and have staff let you know,” Zimmerman said. “In the meantime, don’t get rid of your animals.”
Odds and ends
In other business the council:
• heard the municipal monthly liquor store report from liquor store manager Myra Laway.
For the month of July, the store received $77,560 in revenue, and had $68,261 in expenses; leaving a net profit of $9,298.
• approved a development agreement for a two-acre parcel recently purchased by Mass Finishing, which states the company must pay $33,032 for the property; it must construct a facility by the end of 2015; minimum assessed value, $458,200, must be maintained beginning 2016 and throughout the life of the tax increment financing (TIF) agreement; and that the city will retain eight years of captured TIF revenue in exchange for development assistance and development price reduction.
There is also a shortfall provision, which protects the city in the event of a loss of market value or default of tax payments.
• approved a site plan agreement with Mass Finishing. The planning commission requested that the height of brick on the new facility be changed so it’s consistent with the other Mass Finishing building, and council agreed.