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Council preparing to replace zoning rules

NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council is preparing to repeal and replace the existing Zoning Land Use Regulations from the City Code.

On Tuesday the council received the recommendation from the New Ulm Planning Commission to repeal the existing section of the city code on Land Use Regulation and adopt a new chapter that will serve as the city’s new zoning ordinance.

City staff have worked on creating this new zoning ordinance since 2008 and will be replacing a code created in the late 1960s.

The new ordinance was created as a standalone document, design to be more user-friendly than the Land Use Regulation document it is replacing. The zoning ordinance is divided into 13 chapters. The first chapter is introductory. Chapter two is identifying the application process. Chapters three through eight deal with land use districts. The ninth chapter is land use standards. Chapter 10 is developing standards and is divided into 12 sections. Chapter 11 covers non-conformities. Chapter 12 is enforcement and Chapter 13 is rules and definitions.

Community Development Director David Schnobrich said the new ordinance will be larger than size than the ordinance it replaces. The new ordinance is roughly three times longer.

Staff tried to make this ordinance more user-friendly than the previous ordinance. Schnobrich said much of the information in the new ordinance is a carryover from the previous document, but the staff did include updating the code and addressing land use issues that could come up in the future.

Councilor Larry Mack said the ordinance represented a lot of work from staff and the planning commission. Mack said one of the reasons the ordinance took a long to complete was the need for ordinances covering solar and wind energies. Many things have changed in the way communities build since the city began drafting the new regulations.

Mack said the city will now have to work to enforce the new ordinance. This will take significant staff time as the ordinance will change how some property owners can use their property.

The council received the new zoning ordinance and will consider the first approval during the Jan. 18 city council meeting. City Manager Chris Dalton asked the council to submit any questions about the ordinance to city staff before the meeting to address any issues.

Councilor Les Schultz asked that the most significant changes and additions to the ordinance be discussed at the next meeting to alert the public.

This change to the city code will require two considerations before it is approved. The first consideration will be held during the Jan. 18 meeting. The second consideration will likely be held in February.

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The council made annual appointments to the various city commissions. Councilor Les Schultz will serve as council vice-president, a representative on Cable Communication Advisory Board, and representative on Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Councilor Larry Mack will serve as a council representative on the Planning Commission, Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) Committee.

Councilor David Christian will serve as a council representative on Heritage Preservation Commission and Park and Recreation Commission.

Councilor Eric Warmka will serve as a council representative on RENU and Personnel Committee.

Council President Andrea Boettger will serve as a council representative on EDA and Personnel Committee.

The council also approve Mayor Terry Sveine’s appointments to commissions. On the Cable Communication Advisory Board, Vickie Tambornino was re-appointed and Paul Johnson was appointed.

Jordy Veit was re-appointed to the Energy Awareness Commission.

Deb Zahn and Jeannie Leighty were re-appointed to the Heritage Preservation Commission.

On the Human Rights Commission, Jyneal McCrea and Aaron Kosola were appointed. Casey McMullen was re-appointed.

On the Library Board, Carl Zeidler was re-appointed and Vince Bourgault was appointed.

On Monuments & Cemetery Commission, Dale Gluth was re-appointed and Jim Lamecker was appointed.

Cate Macho and Ashley Aukes were re-appointed to the Planning Commission

Sean Fingland and Shannon Hillesheim were re-appointed to Public Utilities Commission.

On the Safety Commission, Deb Kaehler was appointed. Chris Vorwerk was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Wiliam Skar who resigned in June. A third appointment will need to be determined.

Jeremy Reed and Steve Balza were re-appointed to Sister Cities Commission. A third appointment is will need to be filled.

Tom Romaine was re-appointed to Tree Commission.

No appointments were made to the Economic Development Authority (EDA), but a seat remains open.

Anyone interested in serving on the EDA, Sister Cities, or Safety Commissioned is encouraged to contact Mayor Terry Sveine.

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The council approved a grant application to Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) on behalf of the Hope Housing Foundation.

The Hope Housing Foundation approached the City with a potential workforce housing development project. The initial project would consist of a three-story 27 unit building that would be a net-zero or net-zero ready build. The project cost is estimated at $6 million.

Hope Housing is requesting the city apply MFH to help with financing. The grant is for $400,000. If New Ulm is awarded the grant, there is a match of $200,000 that will be through Tax Abatement or Tax Increment Financing.

City Manager Chris Dalton said workforce housing is desperately needed in the area to get more employees in town to help work in factories.

This will be a competitive grant process with many communities applying for the money.

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The council set the public hearing for the 2022 Utility, Street and Alley Improvements for Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.

The hearing would cover the seven projects.

The first is Jacobs Street and Somsen Street Utility and roadway extension.

The second is the German Street improvements from 7th N. to 12th N.

The third is the alley improvements from 7th South to 8th South between Payne Street and Jefferson Street.

Fourth is the alley improvement from 14th North to 15th North between Garden and Payne.

Fifth is the alley improvement from 8th North to 9th North between Garden and Payne.

Sixth is the sanitary sewer repairs on 19th North in the intersection of State Street and lining the sewer manhole at 1st South and Broadway.

Seventh the concrete sidewalk and ADA pedestrian ramp improvements at locations to be determined.

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The council approved a payment to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) for $1,695.50 for the CGMC Environmental Action fund. This is an annual payment. The city and Public Utilities Commission split the cost and contribution to this fund for The last five years. The total cost is $3,391.

This fund is used by cities to confront regulatory issues as a group. CGMC uses a neutral science-based organization made up of wastewater plant operators in Minnesota that helps provide data used to address environmental regulations.

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