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City council expresses need for definition of housing

A handful of building permit applications generated intense discussion about mobile, modular and manufactured homes during the Kenmare city council meeting held March 13th.

3/21/12 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

A handful of building permit applications generated intense discussion about mobile, modular and manufactured homes during the Kenmare city council meeting held March 13th.

The applications, already passed by the Kenmare Planning and Zoning Commission, awaited final approval by the city council. Three of six requests involved mobile and modular homes, although council members agreed they did not have a specific definition for modular homes.

Council members first approved a request from Peter Johnson to place a 16’x80’ mobile home on his property along Third Avenue on the north side of Kenmare. A FEMA trailer is currently situated on the location Johnson specified, but those residents are building a permanent home in Kenmare. Johnson intends to simply replace the FEMA trailer when the family leaves with the mobile home listed on his application.

According to the council, that neighborhood is already approved for mobile homes. However, applications to place modular homes on property owned by Jeff Schobe and Byron Kerbaugh raised some concern. “People interchange the terms modular and mobile,” said Troy Hedberg. “I don’t want to approve a bunch of modular homes coming into town.”

“We have to realize there are a lot of different grades of manufactured homes,” said Chuck Leet.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Schobe’s request to place a 28’x54’ manufactured home on his lot along 2nd Avenue NW and Kerbaugh’s application to replace his current house on 1st Aveneue NE with a 28’x52’ modular home.

Public works director Mike Thompson reported the intention of both men to set the homes on cement pads, with a crawl space below each one. He also referred to decisions about modular homes as a gray area for the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to the city’s new ordinance book which is still a work-in-progress regarding types of houses. “This is the only chapter we don’t have back from Ackerman-Estvold yet,” he said.

“There needs to be some consideration for the neighborhood,” said Hedberg. “A trailer house is a trailer house. If it looks like one and smells like one, it must be one.”

Hedberg noted the land use maps in Kenmare’s Growth Management Plan zoned locations for mobile and modular homes, with homes appropriate for R1-zoned residential neighborhoods to be stick-built. “But we haven’t made that our official plan yet, either,” he said, referring to final adoption of the plan by the council, scheduled for April.

Leet asked for the distinction between modular and manufactured homes. Thompson said there was none, but Hedberg indicated that financial institutions often used more specific descriptions for financing purposes.

“This spring, we need that Growth Management Plan in action,” Leet said.

The council approved Kerbaugh’s and Schobe’s applications as submitted, noting Kerbaugh’s intention to build a garage later next to his new house under a separate application.

An application from Vern Eymann to construct a single-story 36’x40’ pole building with steel roof and sidewalls on the south side of his existing garage at 517 3rd Avenue NE raised another contentious topic. “We’ve allowed steel pole buildings in town before,” Hedberg said.

“And we’ve had negative comments about the ones that are up,” said Terese Skjordal. “The ones we have are taken care of, yes, but my concern is that a couple of years ago we said we didn’t want any more of these quonset-type storage buildings to go up.”

Thompson said the city’s current description for those buildings, including a rounded roof, didn’t match most of the newer styles of pole buildings.

“I can see Vern’s idea here. He wants to continue with his museum set-up,” Leet said, referring to a pole building already on the property that houses V&R Toy Museum and Eymann’s collection of farm toys and antique tractors.

The council approved Eymann’s application as submitted, but then discussed the need to communicate their concerns to the Planning and Zoning Commission. They stopped short of approving a motion to discourage allowing modular and manufactured homes and steel pole buildings in residential zones. “We need more definition for there,” said Hedberg.

“We do need to led the Planning and Zoning Commission know we might be tabling these [types of applications] for a couple months,” added Skjordal. “It may take a couple months to get the ordinances in place.”

Council members also approved an application from Mike Perry to build a 24’x30’ garage in the alley behind his home on 2nd Avenue, on the site of the current garage which he plans to demolish.

New rules for
Memorial Hall use
The city’s Health Committee is encouraging more use of the Kenmare Memorial Hall as they revise the current policies regarding the facility.

Skjordal, as committee chair, reported that a security deposit, currently $250, would be required of any individual or group that wants to use the Hall for a class, reception, banquet or other event. “If the building is left in the proper condition, that money is completely refundable,” she said.

Hedberg noted the importance of a wedding or similar type of reception to the community. “They support the businesses in town,” he said. “This way, no one has to worry about who’s getting charged and who’s not getting charged.”

The school district has a contract with the city to use the Memorial Hall for a variety of sports practices. “We want to visit with the Activities Committee up there because that contract is dated,” Skjordal said.

She noted the city had concerns about the condition of the areas used by the school, including the bathrooms. “They know they’re supposed to stock them. They know they’re supposed to clean them,” she said. “They’re not doing that, and they know they’re not doing that. We’re still working on a plan for cleaning the building.”

The Hall is also available in the evenings and weekends for adults or youth who want to use the gym. “This is a community building, and most of the stuff that goes on there is related to community fitness,” Hedberg said.

The Kenmare Police Department can be called to open the door at their convenience, and parties can sign in to use the facility. The door will be locked behind the participants. When the individual or group leaves, one of them must notify the police officer on duty.

Youth in the building at night will be required to go home at the regular curfew times.

Damages or vandalism that occurs will result in the closure of the Memorial Hall for individual recreational use. “If they abuse it, it will be shut down,” said Skjordal, but she and Hedberg agreed the Hall should be available to community residents at no charge.

Kids or adults who sign in to use the building must furnish their own basketballs, volleyballs or other gear. Classes and other pre-scheduled events will take precedence in the evenings, and the city auditor has the master calender of all Memorial Hall activities.

Carpet replacement
in Kenmare library
The Ward County Public Library Board addressed the city council regarding an account of nearly $14,000 collected in past years on one mill levy collected specifically for the Kenmare Branch Library.

Board president Linda Anderson reported she had been notified of the account by the state librarian. The city previously levied the mill, but stopped doing so after former library administrator Jan Hearn determined the tax was not necessary.

“The [Kenmare Branch] library could use new carpeting,” Anderson said, “and we’re wondering if you’d be willing to take some of those funds to buy carpet.” She also mentioned the need to purchase a storage cabinet that could be locked.

The council asked Anderson to obtain cost estimates for the purchases and carpet installation before the next city council meeting.

Anderson noted that library board member Maureen Munch of Kenmare and local librarian Pauline Nielsen would take responsibility for the estimates and carpet selection.

The council will review the estimates at the April meeting.

Water and sewer work
Steve Eberle of Ackerman-Estvold Engineering & Management Consulting in Minot reported on progress being made with the city’s water tower project. “Maguire Iron estimates they’re at 75 percent completion on the project,” Eberle said, adding that painting would still be done at a cost of approximately $100,000. “They’ll need about a two-week window for cure time on the paint.”

Council members approved payment toward the total project of $72,600, as submitted.

Eberle noted within the next few weeks Ackerman-Estvold planned to begin the preliminary work to provide water and sewer to the new Gooseneck Implement site on the southeast edge of Kenmare. “We’ll be looking for [council] approval to advertise the job and the specs,” he said.

In other business:
• Council members approved minutes from the February meeting and the city financial report, as submitted by Jan Kostad.

• The council approved a transfer of the M&K’s Pizza Hub liquor license to the Kenmare Memorial Hall for March 23rd for the Kenmare Country Club Fun Night.

• Council members approved a motion to purchase a soft start pump system at a cost of $1500 to improve flow at the hydrant for bulk water sales.

• Ken Barnhart reported from the Garbage Committee that rates for residents and businesses were still under review.

• Council members denied a raffle permit request from Patrick Farrington. The application stated the raffle would be run as a benefit for a co-worker who lives in Kenmare, but the council agreed an organization should handle the raffle rather than an individual. “I feel uncomfortable with any individual coming in with something like this,” Leet said.

• Council members approved a raffle permit request from the Kenmare Lions Club for the Kenmare Country Club Fun Night.

• The council approved a motion to authorize city auditor Barb Wiedmer and accountant Becky Kostad to write checks from the municipal court account, as directed. “The judge doesn’t want to handle the money,” explained police chief Gary Kraft.

• The council authorized Kraft to get the transmission fixed on the police department’s Ford Expedition. Kraft said the estimate was $2840.

• The council tabled action related to replacing lights around the downtown square, which currently use mercury vapor bulbs and are estimated at 40 to 50 years old. The recommended lighting would feature sodium lights, but would require new poles and wiring. Council member Owen Medlang will obtain cost estimates and more information about options for the new lighting.

• Hedberg mentioned the need to consider street repairs, despite the fact so many locations within the city were repaired last year. Eberle explained the water table has a significant effect on the condition of the streets, and he agreed to tour the streets with Thompson to make recommendations for sealing cracks and other repairs.

“When it comes to sealing cracks, we tell all our cities it’s imperative to get that done,” said Eberle. “It really does save your streets in the long run.”