by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
The Otsego City Council welcomed a new council member and approved an agreement to build three soccer fields in Prairie Park at the Monday, Jan. 14 meeting.
New Council Member Jason Warehime, along with returning Mayor Jessica Stockamp and Council Member Doug Schroeder, were sworn in for new terms in office.
Warehime has been an Otsego resident for 10 years. He owns Metro Appliance Recycling and some commercial property in Otsego. He has served on the city’s Police Commission for the last three years.
In other matters, the council agreed to a contract with Three Rivers Soccer Association, or TRSA, that would help fund the construction of three new soccer fields and a parking lot in Prairie Park, just west of City Hall.
The project is expected to cost $343,000, well below the $585,000 that had been previously approved. The cost savings come largely from a change to a gravel parking lot instead of one that is paved.
Though in favor of the project, Council Member Vern Heidner asked prudently, “What happens in 25 years if soccer falls out of favor, if no one plays soccer anymore? Can we use these fields for anything else?”
Parks and Recreation Manager Ross Demant assured the council that with the way the fields would be graded, they can be used for any number of sports, including football, rugby and lacrosse.
TRSA has pledged $100,000 over an eight-year span that will help fund the construction of the project and offset ongoing maintenance costs.
Construction will begin in June or July of this year and the fields are expected to be ready for use in the spring of 2014.
The council also considered a measure to rezone the property at 14807 95th St. The property, which is currently in the foreclosure process, is zoned A-1, an agricultural designation that would allow for a variety of farm animals to live on the property. However, all of the properties surrounding it in every direction are zoned R-3, which is a single family zoning district.
City Planner Dan Licht told the council that under the current A-1 zoning designation, a new owner would be well within his or her rights to have as many as seven dairy cows, 10 cattle, 50 ducks, 55 turkeys, 100 sheep or goats, 200 pigs that weigh less than 55 pounds, or up to 1,000 chickens on the four-acre property.
“I got the impression that the neighboring residents there are perfectly fine with it having horses. It’s when you get into other kinds of farm animals,” Heidner commented.
Under an R-3 zoning designation, horses would not be allowed. Also, neighboring residents worried that it would allow the property to be subdivided, rather than maintaining the area’s rural character. The council decided to follow the direction of the Planning Commission and agreed that rezoning the property would be premature.
In development news, Licht was pleased to inform the council that the city had recently received an application to build 132 homes in the Martin Farms subdivision.