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Council approves Highland Homes assessments

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The Morris City Council has scheduled a final assessment hearing for work done this summer in the city's Highland Home Addition.

The hearing is Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:20 p.m.

The project cost was just more than $2 million, and property owners will be assessed for $629,000.

The assessments, if not paid in full, are for 15 years at a 5.85 percent interest rate.

In other business from Tuesday's council meeting:

•The second reading of an ordinance allowing Otter Tail Power Company to operate in the city is Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 5:30 p.m.

The council is being asked for a 20-year renewal of an ordinance from 1990 giving Otter Tail permission to operate its utility within city limits.

In addition to the ordinance, Otter Tail also understands that the city retains the power to collect a franchise fee on it and other utilities.

•The council approved assessments of more than $26,000 for parking lot improvements for six property owners along Atlantic Avenue.

•The council accepted a feasibility study and approved further work on improvements on East 2nd Street next year.

The study estimated the project costs at about $2.4 million, with about $900,000 is expected to be assessed to property owners.

But City Manager Blaine Hill said the costs could be lower because of a favorable bidding market. For example, the Highland Homes project was initially estimated at $2.6 million, but costs were closer to $2.1 million, Hill said.

"We hope the environment is the same for bidding," he said.

However, the value of the improvements has dropped off, Hill said.

According to appraisals, the Highland Homes improvements were estimated at $12,000 to $16,000 for property owners. For the East 2nd Street project, the appraisals are showing improvement values of between $8,000 and $12,000, Hill said.

•The Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission's Michael Haynes told the council that two potential business tenants have been contacted about their interest in the Coborn's property.

Coborn's announced earlier this year that it would close its Morris store in early November.

Nash Finch and Super Valu have had discussions with Haynes about the building, but talks are preliminary, he said.

•The City Council approved a resolution allowing the University of Minnesota, Morris to erect a wind turbine within 500 feet of city property.

UMM is planning to erect two additional wind turbines, one of which is near the existing turbine and which within the state-mandated 500-foot setback of the city-owned Pomme de Terre Park. However, since there are no residents or businesses near the turbine, the city waived the 500-foot setback.

The university also is planning to erect a turbine on campus, hear its horse barns. That turbine's location meets setback requirements, although the university is contacting surrounding property owners about the project.