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City up in the air

City up in the air City up in the air

Aldermen seek drone images of similar projects from developers

After a second closed session meeting, members of the Medford city council appear to be no closer to picking a developer for a 40-unit workforce housing project.

At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, council members received presentations from Oshkosh-based Northpointe Development and from Commonwealth Development Corp. of America of Middleton. The firms presented design ideas to apply for a federal tax credit program to develop a 4.4 acre parcel just north of Northcentral Technical College on Progressive Ave. into housing. Main differences between the proposed developments are Commonwealth proposed 2-story walk-up apartment buildings allowing for more green space while Northpointe proposes single-story cottage-style apartments with attached garages. City undecided

In addition Northpointe’s proposal called for the company to purchase the land from the city for $55,000 while the Commonwealth proposal has the city transferring the land as part of a development deal.

According to Mayor Mike Wellner, coming out of last week’s closed session discussion comparing the two proposals, the city had a list of 25 specific questions that council members wanted answers to before they made a decision.

Once a firm is picked, the city would have little say about the complex beyond normal land use rules since it would be a private development at that point and paying property taxes.

From discussion at the meeting, major issues for aldermen are centered on the two-story option with more open space, and the more tightly developed single story option.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, aldermen discussed options of going to visit projects done by the developers. City coordinator Joe Harris said he could set up a van for those aldermen interested with Commonwealth saying that it had similar developments in Mosinee and Plover while Northpointe has a similar project in Sister Bay in Door County.

Harris said the Sister Bay project has 8 units per acre while the proposal for Medford comes out to about 9.3 units per acre. Council members also question if the stairs on the two-story option are enclosed or open. Harris said the plans call for them to be enclosed, he compared it to the existing Allman Park apartment complex.

Wellner suggested that the council wait until after their scheduled closed session at that night’s meeting to decide if they want to plan tours. He said they would review the answers from each of the developers, noting that the developers had requested some of the answers be kept confidential for bargaining reasons.

He said the answers may make it easier to decide if a site visit is needed. According to city clerk Ashley Lemke, council members did not make a decision in closed session and instead of organizing a trip asked for an aerial drone footage of the developments in order to compare the layouts.

In other business, aldermen:

_ Approved appointing mayor Mike Wellner, aldermen Chrissy Weix and Tim Hansen to serve on the county’s transitional housing committee. The committee also has county board members and will help pick a location for a planned shelter in the city.

_ Approved Wellner, Laura Holmes, Doug Gasek, Jacki Jentzsch and Brenda Hedlund to serve on the park project committee. City coordinator Joe Harris will move to an ex officio position on the committee. Wellner said the consultants they are working with have recommended meetings every two weeks during the start of the project to keep the project moving forward.

_ Approved purchasing a patrol truck for the public works department from Midstates Trucking at a cost of $167,126. The price includes the International chassis, dump box and plow blades. The city estimated the sale price of their existing plow truck at between $25,000 and $32,000. The Midstates bid was the only one received by the city. The truck is expected to be delivered by December 2021.

_ Approved pool wages for the coming year with the returning pool employees getting a bump in pay and new employees starting at the base rate of $7.50 per hour.

_ Received word that officer Nick Berger was appointed by police chief Chad Liske to be the new police liaison officer. Previous liaison officer Jason Lange was promoted to the lieutenant position following last week’s retirement of Rob Horenberger. Wellner said the police and fire commission would be meeting to review applicants to fill the vacancy in the department.

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