Council hears housing summit report

Many communities in North Central Iowa are experiencing housing issues, according to Councilman Geary Meyer and City Manager Ed Sadler. The two gave a report to other council members at Monday night’s meeting about a housing summit they attended in Clarion recently.

The summit was sponsored by Mid-Iowa Growth. Sadler was one of the speakers at the event.

“They (the communities represented) were all having issues with developers or builders building houses that all recognized they needed,” he said. “Even some very, very small towns are involved in buying houses and paying to build them.”

Local business and community members directly and indirectly involved in housing-related industries attended a housing summit in Webster City in April and came to the consensus that there is a need for housing in the $175,00 to $200,000 range in the Webster City area. The new and expanding industries in Fort Dodge, Clarion and other nearby areas are creating that demand, Sadler said. The City Council approved moving forward with a housing development earlier this year that would see homes built on existing lots in the Brewer Creek addition.

Monday night, Sadler offered the example of what was happening in Humboldt.

“They’ve got two big projects going on. One is relatively high-end stuff – $400,000. Lots are going for $40,000 to $60,000,” he said. “There’s no real subsidy from the government there, other than them starting the subdivision and getting the infrastructure.”

The other project involves developing lower-end housing. Lots were sold to the developer for $1 each.

“So the city is eating the entire cost of the land and the infrastructure and are financing the first four homes,” he said. The developer has taken on the cost of the other four homes being built.

Sadler said the city of Clarion was able to trade some land to create a small housing project which is just being started. There again, the lots are being sold for a $1, according to Meyer.

“Everybody is seeing the need. Everybody is seeing the growth in Fort Dodge and everybody else is seeing housing that is getting older and needing to be replenished,” he said.

“All seven counties are involved in housing at some point to various degrees – either through a county, the city or a housing authority,” Sadler said.

CDBG hearing

The council will hold a public hearing on the submittal of a Community Development Block Grant application for housing rehabilitation on Dec. 2 at 7:15 p.m.

The city submitted the same grant application in 2012 but did not receive the funds. If the funds are awarded this year, money would be used to help rehab houses in the community. Planning Director Karla Wetzler said in a memo to the City Council that the funds would help preserve the existing housing by offering income eligible homeowners a grant for improvements at their homes. Last year, nine local residents returned pre-applications expressing interest in the project.

In other business, the council voted to award a contract for tree grinding services for the city to DeBoef Grinding of New Sharon. The firm submitted one of two bids for the service. DeBoef Grinding had the low bid of $19,695, and the other bidder, Chamness Technology submitted a bid of $21,741.18.

Also approved was the second reading of an amended ordinance pertaining to tower construction. The amendment relates to the amount of land required should the tower fall.

Councilwoman Linda Conaway reported on the successful fundraiser held for the Webster City Community and Senior Center, featuring the Al Welsh Orchestra. She said the band had been booked again for next November. Also, a soup luncheon benefit will be held in January.