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Application now down to 3 towns

By Staff | Mar 25, 2012

Linsey Warmka

A housing grant application by the county has been cut back in scope for a second time.

Previously, the Faribault County Board of Commissioners had authorized moving forward with a Small Cities Development Grant for housing rehab for homes in Faribault County’s smaller cities.

Blue Earth, Wells and Winnebago were not part of that original grant application, but the rest of the small towns in the county were.

The Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) and Pettipiece and Associates were contracted by the county to apply for the grant.

“We thought it would be advantageous for the smaller cities in the county to work together to get the grant,” Linsey Warmka of FCDC says. “Having these cities work together would help with receiving the grant.”

However, the USDA, which administers the grant process, decided there were too many cities involved.

The grant application was cut from including all the smaller towns in the county down to just four; Bricelyn, Elmore, Kiester and Minnesota Lake.

Now, Chuck Pettipiece of Pettipiece and Associates, told the commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday that they are going to drop it to three.

“We sent out 800 surveys to property owners in the four cities,” Pettipiece says. “We found 30 possible applicants in Bricelyn, 40 in Elmore, 24 in Kiester and just 18 in Minnesota Lake.”

Because the grant will only cover roughly 24 projects, it was decided to drop Minnesota Lake off the application.

“All of these other cities can be added to future grant applications,” Pettipiece says.

The number of cities involved was not the only issue brought up last Tuesday.

The total dollars being applied for is $595,125. However, the county will have to pony up some matching money for the project, if the grant comes through.

The county share would be around $45,000 and would come from an old housing rehab revolving fund.

County commissioners expressed concern that the fund would be fully depleted by this project.

“It is a bit of a Catch-22,” Pettipiece says. “Yes, the fund would be used up. But, if we don’t use it we won’t qualify for these types of grants in the future.”

He said the state is getting around $13 million from the USDA for housing grants this year.

In the end, the commissioners voted for two resolutions. One was for the cooperative grant agreement between the county and the cities and the other was to submit the new grant application.

In another matter, the County Board voted to further study a proposal to formulate a county-wide comprehensive plan.

Michele Stindtman, of the Faribault County Soil and Water District and the Planning and Zoning office, says a plan is needed and long overdue.

“It would cover everything from land and water use to transit to economic development,” Stindtman says.

The board agreed that an up to date plan is needed, but wanted to study how to go about having one created.

John Considine III of Region Nine Development presented a proposal from his organization that would create the comprehensive plan and involve the county’s cities in the process.

The cost would be $22,000 for the project for the county, and $6,660 for the cities share.

Stindtman says she will be visiting with the cities to explain the proposal.

The board also heard from Scott Robertson of Winnebago during the public express portion of the meeting.

Robertson requested the board revisit their ordinance concerning septic tank systems.

The Winnebago businessman says a holding tank system would work much better for his shop area and for many others.

“There could be regulations about having it pumped on a regular schedule,” he says.

The board took no action but discussed the matter and put it on future agendas,