Support for multi-family housing units expressed

By Barbie Porter


Members of the Frazee Economic Development Authority and Frazee Planning Commission would like the city to reintroduce itself. The vision for tomorrow’s Frazee would be one willing to work with multi-housing unit developers.

Members of the two entities met on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and at the forefront of discussion was multi-family housing opportunities.

Allowing multi-family units in Red Willow, which is a single-family housing development, has created concern amongst its residents and some opposition from council members. 

Frazee Mayor Ken Miosek said when talk began a person (a former EDA member) mentioned low-income housing. That was not well received by residents in that area. In fact, it resulted in signatures being gathered by residents and presented to the council opposing the concept.

Discussion again opened up of a multi-family housing development in that area when the county stated land abutting the housing development may be prime for developing. Initial discussions suggested having single-family homes border the Red Willow Heights section and then multi-family housing units. The thought was it would provide separation between single family and multi-family units, and those living next to them would be aware that was the intent when the lots were purchased.

Members of the city council opposed the idea and recommended the multi-family units would be better placed in other locations, which was identified to be near the Dollar General at the meeting. Frazee City Administrator Denise Anderson stated the city had obtained 4.1 acres in that location and it is currently zoned R-3.

Planning Commission Member Brad Solberg encouraged all to be open to potential development and further review proposals before making any decisions.

From market rate to low-income, the complexes might be an asset to the community. He added low-income may create an inaccurate image in some minds.

EDA member Ted Anderson requested people look at a low-income complex in Detroit Lakes called  Apex. He stated he had pre-conceived notions at one time as well. When driving a school bus he was on a route that went to the Apex development, and was pleasantly surprised at what he saw.

“People hear low-income and think they don’t have jobs or get vouchers,” he said, adding what it may mean is affordable housing with a sliding rent scale to afford a single person or family a good place to call home while living within their means.

Anderson offered to provide a bus to give residents in Red Willow a tour 

“I don’t think Frazee is in the position to turn down something that nice (if it were presented),” Anderson said.

Solberg added he had been inside a unit in Apex and the units are spacious and strict covenants apply. 

“I know there are some low-income properties that are less desirable, but I think it would behoove us to hear them out,” Solberg said. “We could have something considered low-income that is nicer than market rate, and that helps all property values.”

EDA member Heath Peterson emphasized there is also a need for market rate rentals. He recalled when he moved to town it was a challenge finding a rental for him and his family, as most places available were income restricted.

Anderson agreed there is a shortage of units for young, educated professionals.

If a multi-family developer was set on building in Red Willow Heights, Councilman Mark Flemmer suggested letting the developer host meetings with residents in that area to sell the project.   

Anderson added he really wanted to convey his message to the council, that as an EDA member and resident of Frazee for 60 years, he wants to encourage quality development, and welcome developers. Solberg agreed, noting he felt a re-brand of the city may provide a clear cut message to those considering investing in the community, either through residential development or commercial. He also encouraged the idea of creating an incentive package.