Council mulls development ideas

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on June 10 considered ideas for city development, discussed the lack of mobile food vendors, and approved street closings for the Stars and Stripes celebration.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling and Jane Parker through the evening's agenda. Also present at the council table were Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

City lots development

A public hearing on a zoning request from the Guttenberg Industrial and Economic Development Commission (GEIDC) brought comments from numerous neighbors. The property in question consists of six vacant lots to the south of the Guttenberg Municipal Building. Mayor Frommelt said the GEIDC has more than $100,000  invested in the properties and  has a tentative plan to develop it for residential housing, such as duplexes. He said that though it was originally hoped that the property would be used for senior housing, no private development plan has materialized.  

Several neighbors expressed concerns about water drainage problems in the alley west of the lots. Another concern was parking. The mayor said any new construction would contain attached garages. A business owner and several council members discussed parking for business customers and for events at the municipal building, and suggested that part of the lots be used for parking. In response to another concern, the mayor said low-income housing is not planned. 

The council voted to table consideration of the zoning change until more detailed plans are presented.

Property option

Mayor Frommelt gave an update on an option to purchase property at the corner of Schiller St. and Highway 52, currently owned by Bender's. "In my opinion, it is a key property for the city to direct people uptown," he said. The mayor would like to see the welcome center at that site.  The matter will be considered at the July meeting.

Community development

Mayor Frommelt said that the Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Committee is "in desperate need of direction on community development." He proposed having a full-time economic development director, and asked that the council consider the idea for discussion at the next meeting

Food trucks

Mayor Frommelt reopened the issue of mobile food vendors, a topic that dominated numerous council meetings last year prior to passage of an ordinance that set vendor fees. No one has applied for a vendor permit this year.

The mayor said he was concerned about the lack of restaurant choices at certain times of the week, and he proposed waiving the mobile vendor fees this year. The mayor said he believes that food vendors will help brick and mortar stores. "The idea is to at least get people uptown," he said. 

"Because there was so much controversy, they think we don't want them to come," said councilmember Saeugling as the council discussed reasons for a lack of vendor interest. She suggested setting up a mobile food vendor night.

A motion from councilmember Pierce to waive vendor fees for this year died for lack of a second. 

After further discussion, it was the council's consensus to explore the possibility of having the Umbrella Arts organization invite vendors to the Friday night concert series in the park. Fees, if any, could be determined by UA. 

Stars and Stripes street closings

Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce Director Mandy Ludovissy spoke to the council requesting street closures for the Stars and Stripes celebration on July 6. After discussion, the council approved closing the 700 and 800 blocks of South River Park Drive so people can view evening fireworks, and also part of Weiland Street where a large inflatable will be set up.

Other business

An update was given on a decision at last month's meeting for city assistance in removing a large rock that slid down the bluff onto property on Bluff Street. The council will ask the city manager to prepare a resolution for next month's meeting setting out a policy for dealing with similar situations in the future.

City Attorney Schuster discussed a survey plat for property on Miner's Creek that adjoins city property, describing it as a complicated issue. After discussion, it was the council's consensus to have the city attorney prepare a resolution approving the plat for consideration at next month's meeting. 

Following up on business at last month's meeting, the council gave final approval to an ordinance that changes zoning from M-1 to M-1A for property in the city's industrial park. Owners of Anchor Storage requested the change as they consider the possibility of further development of their property there.

The council set a public hearing for July 8 at the regular monthly meeting on the proposed sale of city real estate to Dan and TJ Pierce. At the May meeting the council accepted an offer of $4,000 for the property, including costs. 

Diana Johnson from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning commission was on hand for the public hearing on a Community Development Block Grant application for Guttenberg water and sewer improvements. The council approved an application seeking $500,000 in grant funds.

A zoning request change from Susan Kann from C-2 (general office retail) to R-3 (mixed residential) was approved for property on Lessing Street. 

Citing concerns about setting a precedent, the council denied a request from long-time city worker Dennis Roth to change his retirement date from the end of the June to the end of August. The vote was 4-1 with Greve in the minority. 

At the request of Assistant Fire Chief Chad Esmann, the council approved the purchase of a Ford F-250 transport truck.

The council okayed reducing number of members of the Historic Preservation Commission from seven to five due to difficulties in recruiting a full board and having a quorum at meetings. The council also okayed the HPC’s written report to the city council. 

In consent agenda action, the council appointed Howard Hubbell to the GEIDC and Peggy Rausch to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. 

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