By Robert Williams
The Vergas City Council held a public hearing on Thursday, Dec. 29 to receive input on slight changes to three ordinances and discuss a variance.
Councilwoman Natalie Fischer presided over the meeting with Mayor Julie Bruhn out of town.
The variance is tapped for Lawrence Lake Acres to allow wells and drain fields in the development and not require municipal water hookup as required by ordinance.
The main factor was the cost to hook up to the city system that would inevitably be passed on to taxpayers.
The public hearing is a mandatory part of the process for a variance application. A variance request must meet three specifics, proof there is not reasonable use of the property, that circumstances are unique to the property and the area of development is maintaining the central character of the locality.
“I believe that information was submitted by Josh (Hanson), so that’s fact,” said Widseth engineer Jeff Kuhn.
The city is generally charged to provide city water and sewer to residents if possible.
The variance request is for 24 lots roughly 1-2 acres in size. Four larger lots in the northwest portion of the platted area have already been approved for individual sewer and water.
“The development came to fruition when I looked at the comprehensive plan and I noticed that the city of Vergas was looking for rental housing and lower income housing,” Hanson said.
Hanson noted he would prefer to have city hookups from a developer standpoint, but sought the variance for the 28 households due to the lack of feasibility.
The council received some public feedback on a need for consistency on these issues and ordinances should be enforced.
In prior discussions, the council discussed that these cases are on a case-by-case basis.
Most feedback was in favor of Hanson’s project as the council took feedback both in-person and online.
“We have a local business owner taking on this development for the betterment of Vergas,” Terri Usher said via Zoom chat. “Offering affordable lots for single family living. Live in Vergas, shop in Vergas. Families will build and families have friends and others that will come to the amazing village of Vergas. The variance will offer these lots an opportunity for many.”
The council will take information gathered at Thursday’s meeting and make decisions on the variance and the following ordinance changes at the January council meeting.
More information about Thursday’s meeting will be featured in next week’s issue of the Frazee-Vergas Forum.