Vergas HRA to pursue Sunny Oaks acquisition
News | Published on May 16, 2023 at 5:15pm EDT | Author: frazeevergas0
By Robert Williams
A corner lake lot and needed shoreline maintenance where the property meets trail and ditch easements ate up 45 minutes of the meeting of the Vergas City Council Tuesday, May 9.
Discussions between property representatives and the council meandered about a shoreline restoration project at 88 Park View Drive which includes trail and ditch easements and the differing rules of allowable planting, and by whom, within the easements.
The removal of maple trees and a patch of willows prior to winter has left a section of black dirt in the ditch after the snow thaw that needs to be addressed, along with containing the outlet in the same area.
What to do to contain any potential erosion has become an ongoing dispute between city officials and the property owners, represented at the meeting by Bob Hager.
Prior solutions have been discussed between the landowners, the Parks and Trails and Planning and Zoning committees that involved the Soil and Water Conservation District’s planting recommendations for outlet stabilization at the owner’s expense.
A solution was reached to allow the property owners to plant inside the easements with a $30 city permit, and complete the project in multiple, permitted phases, with adherence to the SWCD recommendations and plan, and no further work will occur on city property or within the city’s trail or drainage easements without permission from the city.
Earlier tensions from both parties during the discussion mellowed by the time of the agreed-upon terms.
The council voted to support the Vergas Economic Development and Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s plan to pursue the 11 tax-forfeited lots that make up the Sunny Oaks development off of West Hill Street.
Pursuing those properties was discussed at length during the March meeting of the EDA/HRA.
Currently the state owns the lots, but Otter Tail County has access to them.
Future targets for use of the lots include elderly housing, rentals, first-time home buyers or affordable income-based housing.
The county has affordable housing grants available, the city has assessments tied to the development of nearly $250,000, among other financial discussions that need to be had if the property can be returned to the city.
Sunny Oaks is attractive to potential development given its makeup that includes traditionally-sized lots with sewer and water ready to go.
The council approved the Pickleball Committee’s plan to landscape and add signage at the park site. Plans include removing construction sand for crushed asphalt and smoothing the transition area between the courts and the public restroom. Utilities Superintendent Mike DuFrane insisted the construction be American Disability Act compliant prior to approval.
The council approved a draft job description for a future Event Center coordinator position. The Event Center committee hopes to have the position filled this summer to manage events and the center itself. The contract position is limited to 520 hours per year. The job description will return to committee for finalization.
The Cities of Vergas and Frazee are working on bike and pedestrian trail plans this year and a portion of that planning involved two public meetings, one in each city.
The Vergas committee is planning to connect to both the Heartland Trail at Frazee and the Heart of the Lakes Trail (the new trail from Pelican Rapids to Maplewood State Park to Perham).
Frazee is planning a trail to connect the town to the new Wannigan Regional Park and also a connection to the Heartland Trail bridge at the intersection of County Road 10 and U.S. Highway 10.
The public is invited to two both open houses to view progress on these plans and provide input.
The first meeting will be held at the Vergas Event Center on Thursday, May 18 from 6-8 p.m. The second at the Frazee Event Center on Tuesday, May 23 from 6-8 p.m.
Both open houses will feature the following:
• Presentation regarding plans to connect Frazee to Wannigan Regional Park by trail.
• Presentation regarding plans to connect Vergas to the Heartland Trail at Frazee and the Heart of the Lakes Trail.
• Update on the status of Wannigan Regional Park planning and development.
• Opportunity for the public to provide input on all of the above.
The above information will be presented twice at each open house once at 6:15 p.m., and again at 7:15 p.m.
Both open houses are family-friendly events, and children are welcome.
At the Frazee Open House, a free, light supper will be provided courtesy of the Frazee Community Development Corporation.