Fortune to serve as certified building official
Pipestone City Council members during their March 20 meeting voted 4-1 to approve former Building and Zoning Official Doug Fortune as the city’s certified building official. The city hired Solomon Derby to be the building and zoning official in February, filling the vacancy left by Fortune’s resignation late last year. Mayor Dan Delaney said Derby was given one year to become fully certified as a building official and must work under a certified building official in the meantime. According to a contract for services, the city will pay Fortune, who now lives in Mankato, a consulting rate of $50 an hour and his mileage will be reimbursed at the federal rate.
“We had some different options there and we looked at them and I wanted to make sure Solomon was on board with this discussion, and he feels comfortable with this,” Delaney said. “We met at the personnel committee meetings and I think Doug has put forth a good faith effort with a contract that allows us to continue. We don’t want to hinder businesses or citizens in their growth of either their business or residential area simply because we can’t get an inspection done on time.”
Councilor Verdeen Colbeck voted against the motion.
Home tax abatement program extended
Council members approved extending the city’s home tax abatement program through the end of 2025. The program provides 100 percent abatement of the city’s share of increased real estate taxes as a result of building a new single-family home or duplex for a period of three years. The program expired at the end of December and Delaney said the city was waiting to see what the county planned to do with a similar program that had also expired at the end of the year. The county commissioners approved extending that program during their March 14 meeting.
The intent of the city’s program is “to encourage the construction of new owner-occupied housing units, and encourage the replacement of dilapidated housing structures within the city,” according to the policy.
“It’s a tool that we can use as a council to try to promote growth and in the long-term it’s not costing us anything because we come out ahead in the end,” Delaney said. “The more people you can get into the community, the more growth you can get, the better it is for everyone, to a certain extent.”
PDC funding request tabled
The council tabled discussion on the Pipestone Development Company’s (PDC) request that the city pay an estimated $170,000 for sewer and water infrastructure at the former Hill Elementary School property where the PDC plans to build new housing. The council is waiting for additional information before making a decision.
Pipestone resident Roger Elgersma told the council he didn’t think the city should help one business over another by providing funding for development.
“If you help one building project and not the others when the city’s not growing very much it pretty well cuts off other builders,” Elgersma said.
Historic property improvement program application approved
The council approved an application from BLS Investments to use the historic property improvement program to demolish the basement of the building at 201 South Hiawatha Ave. and make it a usable space that meets fire code. The project is estimated to cost $15,603.42. The program will provide a loan and a grant of $5,461.20.
Committee appointments and resignations
Council members accepted the resignation of Cole Lytle from the law enforcement liaison commission and approved the appointment of Claudia Appeldorn to the human rights commission.