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Bemidji City Council: No TIF planned for housing project

The Bemidji City Council Tuesday night approved a revised resolution in support of a low- and moderate-income housing project.

The resolution pledges the council's support in waiving 10 percent of the anticipated building and SAC/WAC (sewer and water connection) fees. The discount is expected to be around $8,389.

It mirrors a similar ordinance passed in June. The resolution does not include TIF.

Pine Haven Townhomes is proposed to have 32 townhome-style units with two- and three-bedroom units for low- and moderate-income families.

"I think it's a great project and I'm really pleased that they're able to do the project without have to come to us for TIF," said Councilor Rita Albrecht.

The council's support for the waived fees will be included in an application by developers to the Minnesota Housing Financing Agency in hopes of securing funding for the project.

The council voted 6-0 to support the resolution; Councilor Greg Negard was absent.

In other business, the council voted down adding utility work to a planned road project in an annexation area. Residents who would have been affected, and assessed, for the project were largely opposed to the project.

The utility project was considered as part of Beltrami County's plans to reconstruct Roosevelt Road this year. The county asked the city if there were any utility needs that could or should be done at the same time along the reconstruction route (from Paul Bunyan Drive to 6.5 miles east).

Part of the road already is in city limits served by city water and sewer; replacement of those facilities is not needed.

However, the north side of Roosevelt Road (from Lake Avenue to one-half mile east) is in Bemidji Township, in the five-year-annexation area scheduled to be annexed on Jan. 1, 2012. The south side of the roadway will remain in Bemidji Township.

The city and township met several times and agreed to survey the residents who would be affected; they were asked if they would be interested in paying to have the utilities extended. Assessments are expected at $18,000 per assessable unit to cover the projected $500,000 cost.

Just one of the 17 responses from affected residents received by the city and the township was in favor of the utility project.

"Bemidji Township did state to us at this point they are opposed to the project," said Public Works Director/City Engineer Craig Gray.

The cost for the project now, as part of the road reconstruction project, would be about $500,000. To do it later, without a road project, Gray estimated the cost at about $950,000.

Mayor Dave Larson asked Gray how long it would be before the city would have no choice but to install the utilities.

"I don't know that it will ever become necessary unless we see some widespread water contamination issue or some sanitary sewer issues," Gray said.

The council voted unanimously to not do the utility work.

The Bemidji City Council has called a special work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall on whether to accept or decline a grant that would provide funding toward a solar panel energy system at The Sanford Center.