City taking next step on land exchange with Cemstone
Council denies appeal of variance of garage expansion
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council on Monday approved a professional services agreement for an appraisal of Economic Development Authority-owned property south of 27th Street that is a potential site for two local enterprises.
The property, located approximately 1,650 west of U.S. 59, has been the subject of EDA staff negotiations with both Cemstone and Duininck Inc. During its Jan. 26 meeting, the EDA directed staff to solicit a proposal for a professional appraisal of the property to determine its fair value. The city council subsequently approved on Monday an agreement with Nagell Appraisal and Consulting in the amount of $1,200 for the appraisal, which can be completed in three to four weeks.
Cemstone General Manager Ken Kuhn attended a Monday EDA meeting that preceded the city council’s meeting, offering an update on the company’s plans for the site it wishes to purchase. He noted that the process to buy new property began last summer because of the “antiquated” site it has currently.
“We’re in a situation where business practices are forcing us to become more efficient,” Kuhn said. “We are a trucking company that hauls ready-mix concrete, and that requires us to be efficient.”
Kuhn said Cemstone is interested in a location that affords access to Interstate 90 as easily as possible, and noted that “very little dust” will be emitted at the site based on advanced technologies. Six or seven new positions — mainly driving jobs — would be created as a result of the planned new facility, he added.
During its Dec. 22 meeting, the EDA considered a request from Cemstone to purchase approximately 10.7 acres of EDA-owned property north of I-90 and west of U.S. 59 to develop a new ready-mix plant and a small specialty retail store. Then, during its Jan. 26 meeting, the EDA discussed a counteroffer from Cemstone to purchase 8.5 acres to develop a new ready-mix plant in exchange for property owned by Cemstone at 1000 Sherwood St. That’s when discussion of getting an appraisal of EDA property began.
Kuhn said Cemstone is eager to partner with the city on potential redevelopment of the Sherwood Street site, adding that his company is “in a crunch timeline to get moving” and hoped that work could begin at the property south of 27th Street by late March or early April. Worthington Assistant City Administrator/Director of Economic Development Jason Brisson said he hoped the getting the appraisal done as soon as possible “would help get this project moving.”
“We appreciate your interest in investing in Worthington,” said Mayor Mike Kuhle, noting that completion of a deal with Cemstone could help trigger additional economic development on the EDA-owned property.
More discussion of variance for garage
City council members spent roughly 45 minutes discussing the appeal of a variance request for construction of a 42-foot by 8-foot addition onto an Elmwood Avenue garage. The request, submitted by Daryle Albersman, was denied Jan. 5 by the Worthington Planning Commission, and Albersman appealed the decision to the city council.
The council, during its Jan. 26 meeting, tabled action while asking staff to consider the possibility of a text amendment to city code. Albersman seeks an encroachment of 8 feet into the required 10-foot side yard setback on his property; his current garage sits 10 feet off the southern property line and meets all current required setbacks.
Differences between a text amendment and potential planned unit development (PUD) were discussed Monday by council members and city staff. It was explained that a text amendment would bring about a more sweeping, city-wide change, while a PUD could be more specific and for a unique neighborhood.
Council members ultimately rejected a motion to approve the appeal of Alberman’s variance request, with Amy Ernst casting the lone vote in favor. City staff will now consider a PUD that could accommodate Albersman as well as, potentially, others along Elmwood Avenue whose properties lay on the same side of Elmwood Avenue as the golf course.
Among other business
The council approved a resolution supporting a Nobles County Road Improvement Program Grant for planned roadway improvements to County State Aid Highway 10 (Crailsheim Road) between Collegeway and Fox Farm Road.
The improvements include construction of turning lanes, curb and gutter, storm sewer, increase of pavement strength and pedestrian access. State bond funding is available through the local road improvement program to help pay for the construction costs.
Nobles County staff is preparing a grant application for approximately $800,000 to cover the cost of the project. Support of the project by the city of Worthington is expected to assist in making the application more competitive.
A bid schedule on the planned improvements at Chautauqua Park were approved. Bids will be advertised Feb. 17, with a March 17 bid opening and council consideration on March 22. Public Works Director Todd Wietzema said the improvements include the new all-inclusive playground equipment made possible in large part through Early Risers Kiwanis fundraising, as well as a new restroom facility, new sidewalk and a slightly relocated road farther from the restroom site.
The council approved a preliminary plat for the planned Cecilee Addition, a conditional use permit (CUP) for the recreational fieldhouse facility at 700 Second Ave. and a text amendment to city code pertaining to the maximum building coverage allowed for residential districts. All three actions mirrored actions taken by the city’s planning commission during its meeting last week .
The EDA approved resolutions for Redevelopment Projects No. 6 and 7. Project No. 6 pertains to approximately 50 acres west of South Crailsheim Road, north of a westerly extension of Sutherland Drive, for residential lots. Project No. 7 is for an approximately 7.8-acre tract south of an easterly extension of Darling Drive, and east of Grand Avenue, to create residential lots. The resolutions allow the EDA to establish redevelopment plans for the area, take ownership of the property and sell the lots to buyers using its HRA powers.
Kuhle introduced Alaina Kolpin, an employee at Mike Woll Investment Office, as an honorary city council member for the next three months.