Those who fail to take adequate care of their homes or rental properties may face citations and other remedial measures if a new rental and housing ordinance is adopted into the Granited Falls City Charter.
At present, council is at least two meetings away from approving the ordinance that would give the city new legal powers to address blighted properties within the community. The council must hold two readings of the document before accepting it into the city charter, which council members elected to hold off on to allow more time to review the potential addition.
Over the past several weeks, City Attorney Greg Holmstrom has been compiling the document based on ordinance language contained in sample documents from the League of Minnesota Cities as well as ordinances in-use by other Minnesota cities.
Holmstrom says that a growing public chorus is calling for the city to begin addressing neglected properties, said to diminish property values and create an overall negative impact on the city’s appeal.
“This type of thing is becoming very, very popular,” Holmstrom said of other cities who have incorporated such ordinances into their cities’ charters.
As to why there is a growing amount of dilapidated housing within the community was not a question that was directly asked by city representatives. However, it was noted that of the 11 names listed as rental property owners, seven do not have Granite Falls addresses.
Local rental property owner Ron Thull was in attendance for the meeting. He agreed that some type of enforcement was needed but also requested that the council be careful not to create expense for rental property owners who provide suitable housing.
Thull has owned multiple rental properties for over two decades and said that only once has been cited by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (for paint that had begun to peal on the exterior.)
“I won't rent a place that I won't live in. There are people in town who will rent stuff my dog won't live in,” he said. “Do we need something, yes. But why should I be penalized?”
Council members acknowledged Thull’s concerns, said they would be taken into account and noted that they were glad to have the input of someone who may be impacted by the ordinance. In addition, Thull was offered a copy of the potential ordinance as it stands to date.
In other news:
•At the recommendation of the Granite Falls EDA, council members approved an EDA revolving loan fund in the amount of $7,000 to Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization (GFRR) for roof repairs at the K.K. Berge building. Terms of the loan carry an interest rate of one percent to be repaid over a period of 10 years.
Page 2 of 2 - The loan is the second obtained by the local non-profit. A $10,000 loan to be repaid over a period of 10 years at two percent interest was approved for engineering and design work that coincided with the building's original rehabilitation. The organization is current on this loan.
•Also at the recommendation of the EDA, council members accepted a $3,148.87 quote form Majdsdac Hill green house to restore the planting material and mulching in the area at the corner of 9th Ave. and Prentice Street as well as two planters located off of 8th Avenue.
•Council members accepted a quote from global industrial gases company, Praxair, for the purchase and delivery of liquid CO2. At a cost of $96 per ton, the chemical is used to control the Ph level of the city’s tap water. Last year, $3,500 was expended to the company for such services.
•Upon the request of the Lions Club, the council members agreed to waive costs associated with the use of the city bus service during the Western Fest celebration. Last year's bill to the Lion’s Club totaled $485.
•At the request of Public Works Director Paul Krogstad, council members called for quotes to replace the radiant heating system within the City Garage shop area. According to staff notes, the present heating system was purchased in 1982 and repair is not an option.