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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Elk Mound is poised to become a much larger community in the not-too-distant future with continued construction in the Settlers Ridge development.
Jim Rooney, representing Settlers Ridge, spoke to the Elk Mound Village Board at the May 2 meeting about the next phase of development.
All together, Settlers Ridge is expected to have 22 eight-unit apartment buildings and 14 twelve-unit apartment buildings, Rooney said.
Communities are different in their permit requirements, and Elk Mound has a park fee that developers must pay, he said.
Instead of paying the park fee, Rooney suggested dedicating park land in the development and constructing a park in the next phase as part of the Tax Increment Finance District.
The development will include a pond, and the idea is to put the 12-unit apartment buildings around the pond, he said.
Settlers Ridge is located south of U.S. Highway 12/Menomonie Street in Elk Mound.
Elk Mound has agreed to pay $800,000 in incentives plus $250,000 over the next 10 years for the first phase. Since the village had a borrowing capacity of $900,000, will Elk Mound be able to finance more incentives for the second phase? Rooney asked, noting that the second phase has not yet been designed, so there is no budget yet for the second phase.
General obligation borrowing capacity is limited by state law to 5 percent of the equalized value, said Sean Lentz of Ehlers Inc., the village’s financial consultant.
Elk Mound has an equalized value of $43.6 million and a total borrowing capacity of $2.2 million, with $1.2 million in debt already outstanding, he said.
At the beginning of this year, Elk Mound had $1 million left in borrowing capacity, The village used Tax Increment Revenue bonds to finance the incentives for the first phase of Settlers Ridge, Lentz said.
Revenue is needed in the TID to pay back the debt, so additional development would be needed to pay back additional debt, he said.
Bremer Bank was willing to finance the $800,000 backed by revenue that would be coming from the TID. The village board wanted to reserve some general obligation borrowing capacity for other projects that might be necessary, Lentz said.
Elk Mound could do more borrowing backed by TID revenue, which would be predicated on additional developer’s agreements, he said.
Rooney said Settlers Ridge has a strong relationship with Bremer Bank and that Elk Mound will be protected by the developer’s agreement event if Settlers Ridge did not build anything.
Settlers Ridge has an obligation to pay the taxes even if the buildings are not constructed, he said.
The lending institution will want to know if there is enough revenue to cover the existing debt plus any additional debt, Lentz said.
Settlers Ridge has no intention to build single family homes “because it’s not what we do anymore,” Rooney said.
C&M Builders out of Eau Claire, however, may be interested in building single family homes, he said, adding that he is only at the beginning of a discussion with C&M Builders.
Single family housing would require village streets and sewer and water, Lentz said.
Would the developer construct the infrastructure and dedicate it to the village, or would the village be expected to build the infrastructure? he asked, noting that another developer’s agreement would be needed for single family housing.
C&M would like to meet with village staff, village board members and perhaps Lentz as well, Rooney said.
Lentz said he would be available if the village wanted to discuss options.
No timeline has been established for developing single family housing in Elk Mound. C&M would probably build houses on 30 to 40 lots, Rooney said.
One village board member asked whether the green space would be like a second village park with a soccer field, ball fields and public restrooms.
Rooney noted that in other developments he has been involved with, the park space has had walking trails.
Elk Mound is a small community now, but in a few years, the village may have a dozen parks, he said.
It would be a matter of perspective whether the park amenities could be used by anyone in the village, Rooney said.
Jason Brasch, the village’s attorney with the Bakke Norman Law Office, pointed out that Elk Mound’s ordinances are set up so that the park would be a public park and not private to the development.
Rooney said he wanted to set up a meeting with village board members and village staff to discuss the next phase of development and not to have an open debate at the village board meeting.
Brasch said he would be willing to facilitate a meeting with the developers, staff and village board members, keeping in mind the state’s open meetings law for the number of board members who would be able to attend without violating said law.
At some point, a plan commission meeting will be needed for the next phase of Settlers Ridge, and the plan commission should also consider the village’s comprehensive land use plan, said Terry Stamm, village trustee.
The plan must be updated every 10 years, he noted.
Now might be the time for Elk Mound to update the comprehensive plan as it relates to Residential 1 and Residential 2 housing, Rooney said.
Stamm wondered how many current village board members were aware of the comprehensive land use plan.
The village has spent thousands of dollars on developing the plan, and having comprehensive land use plan is required by state law if a municipality wants to continue making decisions about land use, he said.
Stamm asked when the apartment buildings being constructed now would have occupants.
The buildings are expected to have occupants this summer, probably in July, Rooney said.
Settlers Ridge will come to the village for a well permit to drill a well to feed the pond for an irrigation system to water the lawns, he said.
Settlers Ridge is not a single owner, but in fact, has multiple property owners, Rooney said.
A property owners’ association will be set up to build and maintain the pond and the irrigation system for maintaining the grounds, he said.
One village board member asked about the rental rates.
The one-bedroom apartments will probably rent for around $1,250 per month, and the two-bedroom apartments will be around $1,350 per month, Rooney said.
All of the eight-unit buildings will have a two-car garage for each unit, and the 12-unit buildings will have a one-car garage for each unit, he said.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
•Approved an application from Brian Knospe to rezone 550 University Street from A1 Agricultural to R1 Residential. The Elk Mound Plan Commission held a public hearing on the rezone request prior to the village board meeting on May 2 and recommended that the village board approve the rezone.
•Reviewed and approved the Consumer Confidence Report for the village’s water system.
•Approved a bartender operator’s license for Meagan Johnson (Elk Mound Travel Stop).
•Approved hiring Ethan Kjellberg as an LTE part-time police officer.
•Approved hiring David Vodenlich as an LTE part-time police officer.