City Council grants duplex permit

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

When the Caledonia City Council opened a public hearing to consider a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and setback variance last week, neighbors were listening. The March 27 meeting was dominated by the matter, as petitioner Nicolas Holty presented his plan to build a twin home in an R1 residential district.

The well-attended session nearly filled the meeting room as the council examined the matter in detail, taking 45 minutes to complete the hearing. Administrative coordinator Mike Gerardy said that the duplex is allowable as long as the builder secures a CUP. But in order to locate the structure where it’s staked out, a nine foot four inch variance is required along the northeastern part of the lot to meet setback requirements, he noted.

Neighbor Mark Schiltz said that he was surprised to learn that the covenant at the Doering Estates had been changed by the developer to allow multi-family homes on several lots that originally were supposed to be single family, including the one which adjoins his his property.

“It seems a little strange that if the city approves the plat, it can be changed (from single family dwelling to twin home) without the city’s knowledge,” councilman Bob Burns said.

“We’d like to be notified, too, living in that development,” Schiltz added.

“They may have been allowed to change it, but they still need to come to the council to get a Conditional Use Permit for this particular parcel,” city administrator Adam Swann said.

Holty said that the shape of the lot makes aligning the home with already existing structures challenging. That resulted in a need for a variance.

“One reason that I’d like to build in that location is that it’s been changed over to multi-family,” he added. “Also, this is a slab on grade home, so we need the extra square footage in order to make it be a desirable property…

“It’s going to be two different units. Basically, it’s going to be split down the middle. I’ll be living in the one unit, and the other side will be for sale.”

Each half would consist of a 1274 square foot dwelling with a 441 square foot garage.

After the council reviewed eight “findings of fact,” Burns motioned to grant the CUP, seconded by councilman Robert Lemke. It was approved by unanimous vote. But the variance was only approved by a 3-2 margin, with “no” votes from councilmembers Randi Vick and Paul Fisch.

Pool fundraising jumps

“We had a good final week to our pool fundraising campaign,” Swann reported. During the two weeks ending in March 17, nearly $21,000 in donations arrived to pay for various parts of the project. “We’re still getting some additional inquiries,” he added.

Liquor store improvements

The council was told that municipal liquor store manager Patty Gavin has selected tile for new flooring which was approved earlier in March. Staff will have to move the inventory to a storage container while the project proceeds, which will also include new paint for walls and ceilings. The liquor store will probably be closed for nearly two weeks while work proceeds,  members noted. A start date for the project has not been set.

When Sunday sales are allowed in July, the liquor store will be open on those days for three or four months on a trial basis to see if it results in additional revenue, Swann noted.

Other news:

The council also voted to move forward with the installation of a new scoreboard at the city ball field. The latest quote for that item was $3,015 plus installation. But the total will be reduced because of a $1,000 donation from Caledonia American Legion Post #191, members stated.

Another vote approved $4,520 in upgrades to the way a new boom truck for the sewer department will be outfitted. Those included a bigger box, better tool storage with lighting, a power inverter, front grilles, strobe lights, and more.

By unanimous vote, the council declared April 2, 2017 as Mary Ann Schmitz day in the City of Caledonia, citing 65 years of service from Mary Ann’s Floral Shop, and the fact that “Mary Ann Schmitz has supported the community in many ways and made Caledonia a better place to live.”