The Cherokee City Council, on a consistent 3-2 vote, last week approved the final resolutions calling for the issuance of Capitol Loan Notes for the proposed Cherokee Industrial Corporation's purchase of the Olhausen Mobile Home Park on South Second Street to be razed and redeveloped into commercial/light industrial property for sale or lease.
In the past month, the Council has approved a series of resolutions moving forward the proposal to issue General Obligation Notes not to exceed $250,000 for the purchase of the Olhausen Mobile Home Park, relocation of its tenants, and clean-up and development of the property for future commercial/light industrial development.
Of that $250,000 total, $75,000 is designated for the purchase of the seven-acre tract of land, $50,000 designated to assist the remaining tenants in relocation, and $100,000 for clearing the property and readying it for possible future development, perhaps even residential.
The proposal calls for the City and Cherokee Industrial Corporation (CIC) to partner in a project to purchase and redevelop the mobile home park off U.S. Highway 59 South that is described as "a blighted area" in the City's South Urban Renewal Plan.
After hosting a Public Hearing on the matter in October, the Council approved on a 3-2 vote the first reading of the Ordinance and approved waiving the second and third readings due to the reported immediacy of action to best benefit all parties concerned.
Council members Linda Burkhart, Wayne Pingel, and Jim Peck voted yes on all actions regarding the South Urban Renewal Plan, and Mick Mallory and Dan Morrow voted no each time. Such was the case again last week, with Mallory and Morrow voting against the resolutions throughout.
According to plan, the City would recoup its investment through taxation when the tract of land is purchased and developed by private business(s).
Since the October Council meeting, CIC members have met with each of the tenants at the trailer park and has committed to tenants that each will be notified of the CIC's long-term plans for redevelopment no later that January 2012, and that they will receive at least six months notice to locate alternative housing.
In other action last week, the Council unanimously approved a resolution officially adopting the City's proposed new Comprehensive Plan.
That action came after a Public Hearing was held regarding adoption of the Comprehensive Plan, and after the Council heard an eloquent report from Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Jeff Hayes recommending that the City adopt the new Plan.
The Planning & Zoning Commission has worked with experts on the matter and poured over public and City input in formulating the Plan. The Plan was last updated in 1979.
"We think this plan focuses on Cherokee growing better and not necessarily bigger," advised Hayes. "This is a wonderful community and has so much to offer with our renovated downtown, the new store fronts, the Little Sioux River, our parks, our businesses, and our people. After months of working on this, we recommend adoption by the City Council."
In other action last week, the Council approved on a 5-0 vote the second reading of a proposed amendment to the City's Recycling Ordinance. There will be a third and final reading at the Dec. 13 Council meeting before passage of the amendment.
For the past several months, the City has been reviewing its recycling policies with Sanitary Services and the Cherokee County Solid Waste (Landfill) Commission.
The City also has been spurred on by the frequent criticisms of citizen Mike Morrow, who has publicly questioned the City's lack of proper recycling efforts for the past two years.
Although there are several word changes in the proposed amendment, the two basic changes include making it mandatory for all Cherokee residents to recycle, and allowing residents to place recyclable goods for pick-up in any type of container, provided that it is clearly marked for recyclables only and when filled weighs no more than 50 pounds.
Currently, residents have been encouraged to recycle (many don't) and use blue plastic bags available at no charge at City Hall. The City has also pondered using hard plastic tubs as other cities do, but the cost of 1,900 tubs would total $17,100. The Solid Waste Commission would contribute $7,000 to that total because that is the cost of the plastic bags now in use. However, the residents would then have to be billed one $6 charge at the onset to cover the additional cost of the tub, or the City must find another source of revenue to pay for them.
It is the City's hope that by the third reading of the amended Ordinance scheduled for Dec. 13, possible corrections to the Ordinance will have been iromed out and residents will realize the awareness and benefits of recycling.
According to Sanitary services, the volume of recycling goods has decreased and flattened out the past few years. By making recycling mandatory in Cherokee and by increasing the choices citizens have in what containers they prefer to use, it is hoped residents will increase their efforts to recycle.
Fines can be issued for failing to properly recycle once the new Ordinance takes effect.
"We're basically putting more teeth into the Ordinance to encourage recycling," explained City Administrator Don Eikmeier, who reported last week that public feedback so far on the recycling measure has been positive.
Mike Morrow was also on the agenda last week regarding a nuisance abatement the City had issued compelling him to clean up his property at 324 W. beech St. Morrow was accompanied by his attorney John Wibe, who addressed the Council.
Wibe's contention was that the City's process for issuing the nuisance abatement was faulty, according to the City Code, and that the citation did not specify Morrow had 20 days to respond to the allegations.
After a contentious give and take regarding Code interpretation between Wibe and City Attorney Wally Miller Jr., Mayor Mark Murphy, Eidkmeier, and the Council agreed to issue a new citation the next day (Wenesday) with the 20 day response time spelled out.
Wibe also questioned Eikmeier's practice of "trespassing" when he went to a property to investigate possible Code violations. Eikmeier said as City Administrator and Building Inspector, he is allowed to go onto others' property to investigate when it is thought that a City Ordinance has been violated.
"Well, don't ever come to my office and try that," warned Wibe.
The Council also unanimously re-appointed Kent Wenck and Mike O'Neal to the Cherokee Airport Authority Board. Council member Dan Morrow suggested the City look into appointing "some new blood" onto the Board, but other Council members cited the experience factor of Wenck and O'Neal ans the pair was unanimously re-appointed.
The Council also tabled the proposed purchase of a portable lift for the handicapped at the Bacon Aquatic Center, pending further study on the matter. A Federal Mandate concerning disability requires public swimming pools to have the lifts by the 2012 season, even though many pools have converted to the previous zero entry requirement to accomodate the handicapped.
The estimated $5,000 cost for the lift is in the budget from last year, according to Eikmeier.
Sheree Hausmann also adressed the Council, informing the City that she and others would like to form a Citizen's Advisory Committee to make recommendations concerning fund-raising for the proposed redevelopment of the Koser Spring Lake Park Yacht Club, Maintenance facilities, and outdoor picnic shelters. It is hoped the public fund-raising would greatly alleviate the City's financial involvement that was originally pegged at $500,000 to be funded through General Obligation Bonds.
Those figures were initially gleaned from an architect's preliminary estimate, and input from some area contractors. The Council has since soured on paying what they consider exorbitant architect fees and construction costs for the Park buildings.
The Council embraced Hausmann's notion and Mayor Murphy will be given a list of names of those interested in serving and will make the appointments to the Committee.