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Emmetsburg City Council Approves Extension For Housing Development

By Staff | Dec 17, 2009

Emmetsburg City Council reviewed the building addition in Emmetsburg with Greg Blair of Community Lumber, West Bend, at their Monday meeting. The council voted to grant a one year extension on the project.

“As per our developer agreement, we had planned on ten houses by August 2010 and/or taxable aggregate of over $730,000,” Blair told the council. “We have six houses complete, and we have a seventh one started. At best, August next year we might have eight.”

Blair pointed out, “We have an aggregate taxable of almost a million and a half, so we’re almost 50-percent higher than what the aggregate was asked for in six houses than what was asked for in ten.”

Blair referred to the economic climate, stating, “We’re building these houses and trying to get enough out of them without losing money.”

Noting that Community Lumber is not a huge corporation, they are building the houses in south Emmetsburg on their own.

“Coming in and building two or three (houses) at a time is just not possible,” Blair told the council. “We’re building one and as soon as it sells we’re starting another one.”

“What kind of extension are you looking at?” asked Councilman Pat Degen.

“Whatever it takes,” said Blair. “We’re well ahead of the taxable, and we’ll be almost triple that when we get our ten homes built. When we get this one done (the seventh house), hopefully we’ll start another one in the spring.

Degen suggested rather than open ending the agreement, adding another year.

“I don’t know that we’ll have three more built in a year, but we’ll keep going until we meet our ten,” said Blair. “The last house we sold down there, the appraisal was so bad. There haven’t been any houses built for sale in the last three years in Emmetsburg. There’s been plenty of them custom built, but they can’t use that as an appraisal. It has to be something that is sold. The last one we sold was $105 square feet appraisal. It cost $130 to build, minimum. That’s what we’re running into. The bank and everybody was not happy with the appraisal we got. He came in, in a six month period and dropped the appraisal $57,000. It kind of hurt us building – it hurts anybody for building if they’re going to use that as comparable. We’ll continue putting one up as soon as one is sold. So we hope it sells fast.

Blair agreed with a one-year extension, then the council will look at the situation again.

“It makes a lot of sense to go year by year,” said City Administrator John Bird. “You’re making semi annual payments from the taxes being generated off the new structures. So you’re not going to want to get ahead of yourselves with the payments. You’re not going to just build seven and stop. At some point you’re going to stop or slow down the payments to the developer, too.

Bird noted that 8.3-percent is what the city is paying. Blair noted it was based on the rate at that time.

“What does your board think would be more reasonable?” asked Bird.

“I can find that out,” answered Blair. “Basically, we based it off what we were paying – 8.3-percent of what the borrowing rate was.

Action was tabled until after Blair talks with his board of directors.

In other business, the council:

-Voted to adopt the 2009 Comprehensive Land Use Plan;

-Adopted a resolution authorizing the Park and Recreation Board to jointly file for grant funds with the Smith Wellness Center, Iowa Lakes Community College, for grant funding through Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation. Grant funds will be used to purchase an ultraviolet filter for the indoor pool. Deb Knight told the council that this will cut down the use of chlorine.

-Reviewed a request from LaMont Naig to vacate and sell an alley between Lawler and Madison at 22nd and 23rd. Public Works Director Bill Dickey said there is no documentation that the alley has been vacated.

-Approved mayoral appointments of Linda Gjerde and Jackie VanOosbree to the Historical Preservation Committee.