City asks county to hold off on mall sale
NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council passed a resolution requesting Brown County withhold the Marktplatz Mall tax-forfeited property from conveyance or sale for six months, to review any potential future redevelopment options.
City Manager Chris Dalton said this gives the city half a year to determine if a redevelopment project is possible for the tax-forfeited property. There is no obligation for the city to purchase the property if no development deal is reached, and it would not be held responsible for any liability for personal injury or property damage occurring at the Marktplatz Mall. The city is responsible for snow removal from the sidewalks.
City Attorney Roger Hippert said the city is not renting the Marktplatz Mall but is just requesting the county hold off from selling the property at auction for six months. For this reason, the city has no liability connected to the property.
Not selling the property immediately prevents the mall from being sold at auction to a person not willing to develop it. The six-month hold gives the city a chance to find a buyer serious in developing the property.
The council unanimously approved the motion.
A time extension for the Front Street portion of the 2019 utility, street and alley improvements was granted to M.R. Paving & Excavating for the final road improvement on Front Street from 7th to 13th South Street until 2020.
This segment of Front Street required deep excavation, and M.R. Paving is concerned that trench settlement will occur and so the contractor would prefer to allow the subgrade to consolidate through the winter season.
City Engineer Steve Koehler agreed with the request, and this is not an uncommon practice for cities. The underground work is done. All that remains is the concrete curb, gutter and infill of the sidewalk sections. The street will have a gravel overlay through the winter. Temporary lighting will be added to this section of the street.
An amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan came before the council. The Planning Commission recommended the vacation of a park trail segment beginning at Karl Drive and proceeding north to Highland Avenue. A request to vacate the trail came from Scott Dreckman, on behalf of All-Stor Public Storage. The applicant will provide a new trail located on the north side of Karl Drive as a condition of the trail vacation.
The council unanimously approved the request.
The council accepted information from staff regarding residential uses in industrial zoning districts. The City Council directed the commission and staff to secure information regarding residential uses in industrial districts following a request to rezone a property on south Minnesota from General Industrial to Multiple Family Residence.
Staff created a 13-question survey on zoning, submitted to 26 Minnesota communities. Twenty-one communities responded.
Of those surveyed, 80% do not allow any residential uses in their industrial district. Twenty percent allow residents in industrial districts under limited conditions, such as a second-floor dwelling; conditional permit if the dwelling is connected to the business; the industrial use is light; an apartment for on-site security personnel or multi-family dwelling if the dwelling is for employees of the industry.
None of the communities surveyed allow construction of stand-alone, single-family dwellings in the industrial district. Of the communities surveyed, 90% do not allow the construction of a combined storage space/workspace and living quarters. The communities allowing this type of dwelling restrict the dwelling to the second floor; it requires a CUP; it requires rezoning and must be accessory to the primary uses in the industrial district.
A second survey was submitted to property owners between 19th South Minnesota, 17th South and South German Streets regarding the possible introduction of residential uses. The survey was sent to 19 residents with 11 surveys returned and one phone interview.
Those surveyed were asked if residential use inside or as part of a private storage building was acceptable. A total of six said it was acceptable, four said it was not acceptable and one did not care.
The council was not prepared to take any action during this meeting, but it was suggested the information be brought back to the work session for further discussion.
Community Development Director David Schnobrich said New Ulm has a zoning ordinance, zoning map and comprehensive plan. He recommended following all three. He said any change should be comprehensive for the whole community.