Council reviews next phase of Village at Cologne development, safety concerns

Cologne Mayor Matt Lein accepts a $500 donation from Cologne Leos member Altrea Ferro-Schug, 17. The funds will be used towards wheelchair accessible entrances for the Cologne Community Center. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

By Adam Gruenewald

Cologne council members tackled a variety of key items during their regular meeting on Monday, April 17.
Among the highlights were approving the final plat of the second phase of the M/I Homes Village at Cologne development as well as a developer’s agreement.
As first presented on July 18, 2016, the second phase of the development incorporates additional townhomes in Cologne north of the parkway and some of the ground work has begun for the 25 one-level townhouses and the single-family homes in the neighborhood.
City Planner Dean Johnson and M/I Vice President of Land Development John Rask updated the council on the overall development, sharing that 12 lots have been sold, with four under construction.
“We’re in need of some additional lots,” said Rask. “Since we’ve last spoke, we’ve sold close to 20 homes… last three to four months, activity has picked up and people like some of the homes and we’ve seen improvement in the housing market which has been very encouraging.”
Included in the agreement was plans for the development of a trail, and corresponding sidewalks, which will go by the water tower near the development.
“I think its appropriate if we address it now,” said Johnson. “From an amenities standpoint, it’s a great amenity and it ought to be done now.”
Council members were certainly encouraged by the positive outlook shared by Rask.
“In 14 years, this has been the best spring selling season we’ve ever had,” he said. “A lot of people coming out. We’re selling lots and customized homes. There will be a lot of new people coming in so that’s good. Already two have been sold in the next phase and those will be starting in July or early August.”
In related news, council members revisited a safety discussion regarding traffic at the Village at Cologne development and in town.
City Administrator Jesse Dickson presented options for acquiring a flashing speed sign between $1,500 and $2,500, purchasing a radar speed sign costing upwards of $4,000 or adding standard speed signs that are between $10 and $20. He also highlighted that the Village at Cologne remains a concern, as it retains a 30 MPH speed limit, although there are options for dropping sections of the road to 25 MPH.
Recognizing the problems with the area as well as other areas in town, council members Sarah Bruss and Kyle Evenski said that the city should address safety concerns.
“There are always kids there,” said Bruss of the Silver Leaf Trail area, where she lives. “I don’t know how helpful having a 30 MPH sign there would be… I do daycare and I see kids out there every single day. The bus picks them up on opposite side of the street with no sidewalks and they have to cross a blind corner. I have to stick up for them, that’s what I know.”
Evenski added that while Village of Cologne certainly is an area of concern, the remainder of the town shouldn’t be ignored.
“If we’re going to do it at one, then we have to do  at everyone,” said Evenski. “If we’re going to do it, then we do it citywide and we’re going to have to figure out how you strategically place them… I’m all for having people drive slow, but I think it’s going to be a much more complicated thing.”
Council members decided against purchasing their own sign, but encouraged Dickson to continue the typical practice of using the speed sign acquired from the Carver County Sheriff’s Office and the City of NYA.
“I think it would help, at least temporarily,” said Dickson, adding that other options exist, such as adjusting the Carver County Sheriff’s Office contract to provide more hours for the city. “With this development is growing, we can look at if it would be better to have more of a presence.”
In other news, council members also followed up on discussions with Cologne Fire Chief Chuck Joos, approving the anticipated applications of five different grants.
Among the grants were between $8,000 and $9,000 for air monitoring equipment from Cenex and Mid County Coop, matching grants from the Department of National Resources for turnout gear, a small enclosed trailer from Pioneer Seed to transport grain bin rescue equipment as well as a Center Point Energy public safety grant that could be used for a thermal camera.
“In the past we just informed you if we got them,” said Joos, referring to council members’ requests that he bring them prior to submitting applications. “When I have applications completed, I’ll bring them to the city.”
Also, council members approved liquor licenses for Burky’s Bar & Grill, DaBoars Bar & Grill, Inn Town Wine & Spirits and Inn Town II, approved temporary liquor licenses for the Cologne Lions Club for July 27 to 30, the dates of Glad Days, OK’d a pay request #3 for geotechnical services pay request for the water treatment plant in the amount of $3,830.25 to Braun  Intertec Corporation, accepted a donation of $500 from the Cologne Leos Club to be used for wheelchair accessible entrances for the Cologne Community Center, approved the change of address of Lions Park from 510 Lake Street West to 118 Henry Avenue South to better assist emergency personnel and those who might be unfamiliar with the area, reapproved welcome sign lights from Solar Illuminations with a corrected 400 lumen lights in the place of 192 lumen lights and approved an appraisal of the property at 401 Benton Street.
City Administrator Jesse Dickson said that with an appraisal, the city could encourage the development of the land for detached senior living houses.
“It sends a message as part of the city we’d like to see it done and we’re driving that growth and development,” said Dickson, adding the city and the Carver County Community Development Agency could partner for a project. “The city doesn’t have property. We have needs and don’t have the property to do this.”
Council member Don Meyer was absent.
The Cologne City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 1.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.