City council supports property owners

The Tracy City Council on Monday approved a resolution that will allow two neighbors to split the vacant property on 213 Elm St. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

The Tracy City Council on Monday approved a pair of resolutions during public hearings that involve the upkeep and improvement of two parcels of land in Tracy.

The first resolution was a variance request by Jordan Hively and Brittanie Knott for their property on Rowland St. The request had previously been unanimously approved by the City’s Planning Commission.

“It’s basically just a setback variance that says they can put a shed a little bit closer to their fence than our code allows,” Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said. “It was recommended by staff and approved by the Planning Commission.”

The City’s ordinance calls for a 15-foot setback for any building, and this request is to bring that down to 6 feet. Council member and Planning Commission member Jeri Schons said since the building in question is inside their fence, it would not have any impact on other property owners.

Neighbor Wanda Apperson spoke on behalf of Hively and Knott, giving her blessing for the change and asking the council to pass the resolution in support of it.

“Our property line is the longest in bilinear feet of anyone next door to them, and we have no problem with their request,” Apperson said. “Jordan and Brittanie are a true example of the kind of family that Tracy needs, and we look forward to having them as neighbors for many years to come.”

The resolution was approved unanimously after a motion by Schons and a second from council member George Landuyt.

The second resolution approved Monday was for the division of the empty lot at 213 Elm St. Since the lot is considered too small to accommodate a house, the EDA’s plan was to sell the property outright. Tracy Community Development Director Jeff Carpenter said the neighbors to the east (Tom and Nancy Dobson) and those to the west (John and Kathleen Strohmayer) want to split the property 60/40, respectively. The payments to the EDA would total $1,000.

The EDA purchased the tax-forfeitured property more than two years ago for $587. The two parties have paid for the surveying of the land as well as any attorney bills associated with the purchase, so there will be no cost to the City or the EDA; the $1,000 will go into the EDA’s reserve fund. Until recently, the City has been taking care of maintaining the lot.

Carpenter said the properties on either side of the empty lot have had a complete transformation, and splitting the lot will give residents of both homes expanded yard space.

“If you could’ve taken a picture of both of those properties — 235 Elm had been vacant for years, and it was starting to show it’s age, and the one on the corner at 201, five years ago, I would’ve said that would’ve been on our list of, ‘What are we going to do with it?’” said Carpenter. “The right people moved to town on both sides — the whole corner is completely cleaned up. It’s just a night-and-day difference. These are good people that want to move to town that want to take care of the property.”

The resolution passed unanimously after a motion by council member Dave Tiegs and a second by Schons.

Mayor Pro-tem Seth Schmidt said the transformation of the property is an example of how the EDA taking an active role in taking control of a property pays off.

In other council news …

• Schmidt opened Monday’s meeting with an update on fellow council member Ron Koopman, who suffered a heart attack and fractured his hip on Aug. 15. Schmidt said Koopman has been moved to a rehab center in Sioux Falls and is recovering nicely.  “He’s feeling very thankful for the medical care he has received, and he’s especially thankful for the excellent care he received from Tracy responders on the night of his heart attack and fall,” Schmidt said.

• The council approved three resolutions dealing with City management and safety. They are an AWAIR (A Workplace Accident & Injury Reduction Program) policy, a Fleet Management Program and a Computer Security and Acceptable Use Policy. The programs are recommendations from the League of Minnesota Cities. The adopted resolutions will give the City a more uniform plan when it comes to dealing with staff and any issues that may arise in the future.

• Schmidt noted that the newly-formed Tracy Parks Committee has met twice. Members include, Schmidt, Connie Anderson, Marianne Ankrum, Rhonda Fredericks and Melody Caron.

• Tracy Finance Director Krista Listul lauded City employee Christa Vandendriessche for her efforts in contacting residents prior to utility shut-offs that had been scheduled for Aug. 5. Listul said 14 customers were set up with payment arrangements, and 65 customers paid off their delinquent balances.

• Tracy’s municipal liquor store did $94,983 in sales in July, which was up almost $10,000 from the budgeted amount. The total represents a more than $6,200 increase from last year and a $29,000 jump from 2019. The July sales are reportedly the highest of any month in the history of the liquor store.

• Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty thanked Officer Adam Hansen and the National Night Out Committee for their work in making this year’s National Night Out a success.

• The council approved budget amendments for the Automated Weather Observing System at the airport and for the Community Development Block Grant. The current AWOS system has been deemed antiquated, and the City is required to update it. The CDBG loan budget will increase from $36,000 to $73,000 after a request from United Community Action Partnership for an additional $15,000 on top of the City’s original pledge of $58,000 for the Small Cities Grant. The additional loans will initially come out of the CDBG fund balance and will be repaid to the City.