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Two more apartment buildings proposed

Just a few months after finishing construction of a fifth apartment building in Abbotsford’s new subdivision, the owner of Abbyland Foods is looking to build two more apartment buildings for his ever-expanding workforce.

City administrator Dan Grady said the city is offering to sell land north of the existing apartment complex to Harland Schraufnagel so he can build two additional apartment buildings later this year. Five contiguous lots on the north side of Swamp Buck Road would be sold to Schraufnagel for $1 per lot, in exchange for him adding $4.4 million in property value to the city’s TIF district.

With tax incremental financing (TIF), property taxes on new buildings that would normally be shared with the local school district, county and technical schools are kept within the city for development incentives. First, the five lots need to be rezoned, which requires approval by the city’s planning commission and council.

The planning commission has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, March 30, at 5 p.m. to gather input on rezoning the five lots in the northwest corner of the Schilling Meadows Subdivision. The lots are currently zoned for duplexes and townhouses, but the rezoning would allow multi-family buildings.

Grady said the city is still considering its options for allowing members of the public to speak at the March 30 hearing while still abiding by COVID-19 restrictions. He said he is going to recommend the city use, which allows people to call in remotely.

Detailed information on how to participate or hear the meeting remotely will be provided ahead of time, Grady said.

If the commission approves the rezoning request, the issue goes before the city council for final approval at its April 6 meeting.

The planning commission met in closed session on March 16 to discuss the terms of a developer’s agreement with Schraufnagel.

Daya Devries, apartment manager, said nothing is “set in stone” at this point for when the new apartment buildings will be constructed, especially with COVID-19 concerns demanding more immediate attention. She provided the following statement from Abbyland: “At this point there are no approved permits, state approvals or contracts. We continue to plan for future employee needs, which include housing in our area and surrounding cities,” the statement reads. “COVID-19 and safety of our employees and customers is where we are concentrating our efforts.”

Devries said the five existing apartment buildings currently house 178 people, which includes adults and children.

At a school board meeting on March 16, Abbotsford schools superintendent Sherry Baker said the two new apartment buildings could bring anywhere from 10 to 50 new students into the school district.

“We do not have the space,” she said, noting the district will have to “get creative” to free up more classrooms for an influx of new students.

One option would be to use the FEMA grant the district has applied for to build a new structure that would serve as both an emergency storm shelter and possible auditorium space. That space could be reconfigured to add more classrooms.

“I know that the middle school is looking at least two right now — an additional seventh grade and a special ed room,” she said. “I know the elementary, if they have any additional students enrolled, we could be looking at those areas as well. We really are going to have to be creative and proactive if we get this FEMA grant.”