COKATO, MN Cokato City Council considered options during its Jan. 11 meeting regarding some tax forfeit lots.
City Administrator Annita Smythe said the City of Cokato recently received deeds for lots in the Trailstone Third Addition development that had gone into tax forfeit.
Smythe said several residents have contacted the city office regarding the lots.
She asked the council to listen to input from residents, and then provide direction to staff regarding how the council would like to proceed.
“We’re going to take our time with this and do it right,” Council Member Butch Amundsen commented.
City engineer Josh Halvorson estimated it will cost more than $400,000 to install streets, sewer, and water.
“We’ve got to think this through carefully,” Council Member Paul Boger commented. “There’s a lot of money involved.”
Amundsen said the city wants to protect residents who already own property in the Trailstone development.
Council members seemed to agree that, if the lots are sold to a developer, the city’s goal will be for any new houses that are built to be compatible with existing homes in the area.
This was also a concern raised by residents who attended the meeting.
“We’re very proud of our neighborhood,” resident Greg Peterson commented. He noted current residents are concerned about property values, and want whatever happens with the lots to be in the best interest of the neighborhood and the city.
Peterson asked the council if residents will be allowed to provide input as the council decides what to do with the lots.
After discussion, the council asked Mayor Gordy Erickson to begin putting together a committee to consider how to move forward with the lots. The committee will include residents, council members, and representatives from the planning and zoning commission. Erickson will present the makeup of the committee to the council during its next meeting.
There was also discussion about a single lot that is separate from the rest of the lots acquired by the city.
Resident Nicole Morris asked the council if the city is willing to sell that lot.
It was noted that before the city sells the lot, it will have to be appraised.
Smythe said several people have contacted her about that lot.
The council approved the purchase of a lot near the intersection of Highway 12 and 7th St. SE for a future public safety building at a cost of $159,000.
It was noted the results of the soil borings at the site came back showing a higher cost than expected for site preparation.
Halvorson said four borings were done, and all revealed organic material at different depths.
He said any organic material found during construction will need to be removed and replaced with a suitable material.
Although it is not possible to determine exactly how much will need to be done until work begins, Halvorson estimated it will cost about $66,000 for soil correction within the building footprint.
In addition to this, any organic material within the top 3 feet of soil under parking lots will need to be removed and replaced with a suitable material.
The land purchase was approved 4-1, with Erickson, Amundson, and council members Carl Harju and Jarod Sebring in favor, and Boger opposed.
Boger said the purchase should be contingent on a referendum so the council would know if it the city will be able to construct a building if the lot is purchased.
Fire department report
Fire Chief Hutch Erickson presented the annual report for the Cokato Fire Department.
In addition to Erickson, officers for 2016 are: Jim Martinson Jr., assistant chief; Jim Martinson Sr., captain, Andy Hagdahl, secretary/treasurer; Ricky Larios, first lieutenant; Jason Kalis, second lieutenant; and Jim Winkelman, safety officer.
The department responded to 87 calls in 2015, up from 74 in 2014, and 65 in 2013.
Cokato Ambulance Service report
Director Jim Erickson presented the annual report for Cokato Ambulance Service.
In addition to Erickson, officers for 2016 include Carl Harju, assistant director; Janell Martinson, secretary/treasurer; and training officers David Nyquist and Jimmy Martinson.
The department responded to 372 calls in 2015, compared to 392 in 2014, and 360 in 2013.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• denied a request from Vitaldyne for adjustment to a water bill due to unexplained fluctuations in the volume of water used.
• approved replacement of a pump at a cost of $8,963.