Minnetrista ready to purchase land from school district

Water treatment

The Minnetrista City Council approved a purchase agreement to buy approximately .59 acres from the Westonka School District for the city’s north water treatment plant at the May 18 city council meeting. According to the purchase agreement, the price will be $36,727.50 for this piece of land located off Game Farm Road, directly adjacent to the piece the city already owns.

According to City Administrator Mike Barone, the price was determined by multiplying the amount of acreage needed by $62,250, the appraised per-acre value of the school district’s property. Kelly Lindstrom, a certified general appraiser, performed the appraisal which determined that valuation.

“We are obviously in need of that piece of property,” Barone said. “I believe that this is a fair price.”

Councilmember Bob Christians questioned if the piece of property in question was worth that amount since he considers it probably the worst section of the school’s property at that location. However, he emphasized that he didn’t want to slow anything down on the water treatment project.

“I do not, in any way, want to do anything or see us do anything that would slow down or delay this,” Christians said.

However, he added, “I think we’re probably paying $10,000-$12,000 more than we should.”

Mayor Lisa Whalen expressed a desire to keep moving forward with the project.

“Do we take the chance of stopping and holding up this project?” she asked. “I think we’re paying a fair price.”

“We’re buying it from another taxing entity so we want to pay them fairly,” Whalen added. “Those are tax dollars as well.”

City Attorney Ron Batty commented that while the piece of property might not be as valuable to the average individual, the city has special interests.

“From the city’s perspective, it is the most valuable piece of property because this is where we want to be,” he said.
Councilmember Patricia Thoele agreed.

“It’s the land we want,” she said.

The purchase agreement was approved by the city council with all the councilmembers voting in favor.

The council also approved a right of entry agreement with the Westonka School District that allows the city access to the property to do soil borings. The Westonka School Board, which also met May 18, approved the right of entry agreement too.

“We want to assist them in a solution,” Westonka Superintendant Kevin Borg said about the project following the meetings.

Liquor code changes

The council approved amending the liquor section of city code to define what constitutes a restaurant that could be issued a liquor license.

“It stems from a recent inquiry from someone who is interested in opening a facility in the city,” City Attorney Batty said.

The ordinance was updated to say that a restaurant is an establishment that is open four or more days a week and serves off of a printed or fixed menu, such as a tasting menu.

Previously, to be considered a restaurant and establishment had to be open at least five days a week and serve from a printed menu.

The council thought the ordinance update was reasonable.

“I think we want to encourage businesses into our community if possible,” Mayor Whalen said.

Besides amending the definition of a restaurant, the council also approved an addition to the city’s fee schedule of a $250 fee for a new liquor license application. City staff estimated that $250 would cover the staff time involved in investigating a new liquor license application.

“This is just for new licenses coming in to the city, this would not be for renewals,” City Clerk Kris Linquist said.

The nearby cities of Minnetonka, Mound and Orono charge a $500 background investigation fee while Waconia charges $200.

“It seems to me to make sense that the cost of the application should be incurred by the applicant, not the city,” Thoele commented.

2014 audit

Additionally, the Minnetrista City Council heard the results of the city’s 2014 audit. Performed by Clifton Larson Allen LLP, the audit resulted in Clifton Larson Allen issuing an unmodified opinion on the city’s financial statements.
Dennis Hoogeveen of Clifton Larson Allen LLP explained that an unmodified opinion is as good of an audit opinion as the company can give for cities.

In addition to the audit results, Hoogeveen provided the council with a tax rate comparison between Minnetrista and nearby cities according to the League of Minnesota Cities tax data.

“You’re right in the middle, nothing excessive,” Hoogeveen noted.

The city again qualified for the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement, which Hoogeveen expected the city would receive.

Milfoil treatment

The city also heard from Kurt Ostrowski, an area resident, requesting $4,500 from the city to help pay for milfoil treatment for Phelps Bay. He explained that the DNR is contributing $100 per acre towards the treatment efforts. The City of Shorewood will be contributing, and Ostrowski will be approaching the City of Mound to ask for a contribution.

According to Ostrowski, Minnetrista contributed in 2013. No treatment was done in 2014 because of the high water conditions on Lake Minnetonka.

“It’s proven to be successful,” he said. “It’s made a big difference.

Mayor Whalen said that the city needs to have a policy in place to address such requests.

“We’ll do what we can, but we’re not going to make any promises today,” she said.

In other news:

• The council approved a preliminary plat, final plat and subdivision agreement for the Dutch Lake Knoll second addition.

• The council approved a proposal for geotechnical services for the water system improvement project. Part of the services will be completed by the SEH, the engineering firm for the water treatment project, while the field work will be completed by a third party.

Together, the total cost for the geotechnical services is $86,671.

This work will determine recommendations for various site improvements and the treatment plant foundations.

• The council amended the weapons section of city code and adopted a revised hunting map that rezoned the Woodland Cove Development, Three Rivers Park property and one additional property as a no hunting zone. Previously the area was a bow-hunting only zone.

• The council approved the 2015 mill and overlay improvement and 2015 crack sealing/sealcoat improvement projects. Bayside Lane will receive the mill and overlay improvements. Palmer Point subdivision streets, Highland Road, Hermitage Trail/Circle, Pondview Drive, South Bay Drive, Northome Drive and Turtle Road north of Eagle Nest Drive will receive the crack fill and sealcoat improvements.

• The council accepted the resignation from David Lang as the city’s representative to the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District board since Lange is moving out of the city. The city will accept applications for the position in the coming weeks and intends to interview interested individuals at the second city council meeting in June, on June 15.

• The council approved the renewal of liquor licenses for Westonka Recreation Association and Burl Oaks Golf Club.

Contact Katie Morford at [email protected]