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Updates given on facade master plan, nuisance abatement in BP

By JIM MAGDEFRAU

BELLE PLAINE – The Belle Plaine City Council Monday night moved ahead on its plan to revitalize the city’s downtown, with a look at the façade master plan.

The first concern was trees. City Administrator Bill Daily said during the work session that there are different thoughts on trees in the streetscape. Many support trees, including the design committee. Others have concerns about birds. Daily said it has a lot to do with the type of tree planted. It is recommended to use locust trees, instead of fuller ash trees that encourage birds trees to roost. He wanted to know what the council’s position was on trees. Council members said trees add a lot to the design.

Daily also discussed bump-outs. Issues include snow removal and parking, with the loss of 18 parking spots. They plan to have bump-outs in the middle of each block.

As for removing canopies supported in the right-of-way, Daily said it’s been a consensus that the western style canopies be removed. Some businesses with these canopies did not sign up for the master plan.  Daily said his concern is the approach in removing the canopies from businesses that did not sign up for the plan. Council members said these businesses would need notice before they are removed.

Daily and the council also discussed administration of the master plan. They need to pin down what improvements will be made on the 36 facades signed up for the program, then they will approach the property owners with the plan, and a temporary easement will be signed. Improvements will vary from building to building. Daily observed that it should be simple, but he has a feeling it won’t be, since this has not been done before in Iowa. “Hopefully it will move forward,” he said. “We’re going to be a pioneer.”

Once the city has its money in place, they will decide how to approach it, by doing the streetscape, Brownfield and façade work at once, or block by block, Daily said.

During the regular meeting, resolutions were approved for procurement policy, code of conduct and affirmative fair housing policy for the facade master plan community development block grant.

During his administrative report, Daily said city officials met with the Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT) board. It might be May 10 before the city knows about how it did. He stressed this holds a big piece of the puzzle of the project. The city also received the $250,000 Brownfield forgivable loan.

Other business

In other business at the council meeting Monday night:

-  Two Pledge Revenue Loan Agreements with MidwestOne Bank and Chelsea Savings Bank for $175,000 were approved for the aquatic center. Daily said these are for the outstanding pledges. The city will pay the contractors. The loans will be paid by the pledges as they come into the city. These are five-year loans. A hearing was held on the loan prior to council approval. Daily said the grand opening is set for May 29 and it is on schedule.

- The council also approved payment of $37,854.65 to Garling Construction for work at the aquatic center.

- The Class C Liquor License and Sunday Sales Permits were approved for Grand Central Station.

- Nuisance hearings were held for Doug Zerba of 117 11th Street, Duane Higgins of 1307 Fourth Avenue, and Richard Papesh of 605 10th Street. The council gave Zerba 14 days to clean his property. “But that’s it,” stressed council member Harold Ealy of the deadline. Higgins was granted a 30-day extension. Higgins cited health concerns, plus he said items on his property are his source of income. Ealy suggested Higgins find a new line of work. Papesh was granted three weeks, until Belle Plaine’s Clean-up Day.

- A list of delinquent dog and cat licenses were presented. There were about 50 on the list. A hearing on the licenses will be May 3 at 6 p.m. Daily was concerned that most pets on the list had not had their rabies shots.

- The third reading was approved of an ordinance regarding parallel parking on Eighth Avenue, between 13th to 16th Streets.

- A one-year contract was approved for Glenn Speas as airport manager, based on the recommendation from the airport commission. Council member Marv DeRycke had concerns about the fixed base operator contract that he discussed at the work session, questioning if Belle Plaine was getting the “bang” for its dollar. He wanted the operator be more accountable. He added he recognized the city lost a business that had a jet at the airport. While the airport may never be a moneymaker, he said he’d like to keep the costs down.

Brad Cook of the airport commission explained the fee was set 12 years ago and has not changed. They are also working on getting more reports. Cook said the cost has stayed the same or gone down to operate the airport, it does generate economic activity and is a selling point for Belle Plaine. However, people fly less since 2001.He said he would take the council’s concerns to the operator.

- A request was approved from the Belle Plaine Historical Society to close 12th Street from Ninth to 10th Avenues on May 2, from 12 to 4 p.m.

- A budget amendment hearing was set for May 6 at 6 p.m.

- Jeanne Duffy, Belle Plaine Community Development Director, presented the Belle Plaine Main Street Iowa Volunteer of the Year Award to Jennifer Zahradnik. She also gave an update on development activities. She is working to get interest in the Lincoln Cafe and the Herring Hotel. A nonprofit alliance has been formed to renovate the hotel. She is working on a packet for merchants and a brochure. She would also like to get some logo items.

- The council held a work session prior to the regular meeting. They discussed drafting a resolution on a public records request policy. Daily said this is now recommended by the League of Cities. The city will act on this at its next meeting in May.

- Also at the work session the council discussed fees and charges for next fiscal year. The only changes are swimming pool admissions and season passes. There will also be different fees for in-town and out-of-town people, since out-of-town people don’t pay the taxes. It will be a $10 difference. The council will act on this in May.

- Police Chief Kris Hudson gave his monthly report. The enforcement procedures have started on the nuisance abatement program. This is the fifth year for the program, and he said he’ll take repeater offenders into court.

- The next work session will be May 17 at 5 p.m.

- A pre-construction meeting was planned for this Tuesday on the storm/sewer project.

- The design committee was honored for its Wall Dog project as the best Main Street Iowa design committee project for this year.

 

UPDATED April 21, 2010 11:48 AM

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