Colfax approves land transfer in East View for Minnesota couple
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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved a land transfer for a Minnesota couple planning to build a house on Lot 7 in the East View housing development on Dunn Street at no cost for the lot.
Toby and Carita Pudwill of Winnebago, Minnesota, have submitted an application for Lot 7 at 206 Dunn Street, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the April 24 meeting of the Colfax Village Board.
The village offered the first six lots in East View for free to developers who agreed to have a house built and ready for occupancy in one year.
Colfax purchased the land from the Jim and Mary Schindler farm along Dunn Street that has six lots on the north side of what will eventually become a street if more development takes place and three lots — one single family residential lot and two multifamily residential lots — on the south side of the future street.
The village board has not yet decided whether to offer any more lots for free. The thinking behind offering the first six lots was to encourage residential development, which will add to the village’s tax base, Niggemann said.
The Pudwills talked with John Fraley after they had contacted the clerk’s office, she said.
“We’re glad you’re coming to town,” commented Gary Stene, village trustee.
Fraley, of Homes by Croix Creek, has an option with the village to build houses on five of the first six lots. Two houses have already been completed, and work has started on the third house.
The first house on Lot 6 was built by Andrew De Moe of Andy’s Custom Concrete and then was sold after it was completed.
Fraley will be building the Pudwills house.
Andy De Moe will do the basement, and most of the contractors have Colfax addresses, Fraley said.
In addition to De Moe, there will be Grant Paulus (GP Excavating), carpenters who live by Tainter Lake, Ray’s Metal Works, H&H Plumbing and Chris Fogarty (electrical), he said.
“I try to use all local. You’re fortunate to have such good contractors right in the Colfax area,” Fraley said.
The Pudwills will be able to move in at the end September or the beginning of October, he said, noting that it seems to take a little longer to build houses now than it did a few years ago.
Is Lot 7 up for purchase? asked Anne Jenson, village trustee.
Possibly not, although the village board as not decided yet, Niggemann said.
Stene said he assumed it would be the same deal as before with the condition that the house be ready for occupancy in one year.
Niggemann confirmed that it would be the same terms for Lot 7 as for the first six lots if the village board chose to offer the lot for free.
Stene made a motion to offer the lot to the Pudwills for free with the same terms and conditions as the first six lots.
Would all of the lots be free? Jenson asked.
There are three single family lots and two multifamily lots on the south side of the development, Niggemann said.
And the other six lots (on the north side) are filled, Jenson said.
One house was already built, Fraley has completed two and is working on the third, and there are two lots left for Fraley to build on, Niggemann said.
The two lots on the far north side of East View need work, Fraley said.
Dirt must be moved to make the stormwater drain properly from the lots. The lots all along there drained through a shallow ditch, but the driveways acted like dams and stopped the water from draining north, he said.
The grade had to be changed to get the stormwater and snow melt to drain between the houses to the east, Fraley said.
There is a village-owned outlot on the far north side of the development. The grade was changed so the water drained east, and then a swale was put in so the water would drain to the north after it was past the houses, he said.
Every year there has been ponding on the north end, although the conditions were such this year that the snowmelt and rain soaked in. But last year, there was a lot of water, Fraley said.
The plan is to complete the swale along the cornfield and then to build a stormwater retention pond on the outlot by the gas plant and the railroad tracks, he said.
The soil from the stormwater retention pond area will be moved to the two lots to change the grade there so the drainage goes to the east to the swale, Fraley said.
Right now, those two lots are not buildable, and they will not be buildable until the dirt work is done, he said.
The plan is to move the dirt from the stormwater retention pond area to the lots and get the work all done at once to reduce soil disturbance, Fraley said.
Fraley said he was not sure on the actual timeline for building the last two houses and noted that he has been building houses on speculation for a long time.
“It’s more dicey now, but I’m working on it,” he said.
Stene noted that Fraley can contact Niggemann to let her know once the plans are firm.
Fraley said that he would.
“I’m always in contact,” he said.
Would the last two lots that Fraley has be available to someone else if the houses cannot be built in a year? Jenson asked.
Fraley pointed out that he has an agreement with the village, approved by the village board, to build five houses in five years.
When the utilities have been available to the lots, the houses have been built, Fraley said.
Building the houses has required changing the direction of the water drainage because the driveways act like dams, and now more work has to be done to get the water to drain to the north so the last two houses can be built, Fraley reiterated.
The ditch along the edge of Dunn Street is too shallow for culverts, so it is a unique problem, he said.
Is the soil clay? Stene asked.
Half sand and half clay, said Rand Bates, director of public works.
There is a nice layer of topsoil in that area, then a ribbon of a foot and a half of clay and then there’s gravel, Fraley explained.
The village runs into the same thing whenever there is street work done, Stene noted.
Stene asked about the drainage for Lot 6, where the first house was built in East View.
Half of the water goes north and half goes south, Fraley said,
All of the water from Lot 7 will go south. There’s a grade change in that area, and it’s a better situation for building houses to the south, he said.
In Phase I there were six lots, but then the village board approved a half lot for someone who wanted a bigger house, said Carey Davis, village trustee.
The person who wanted the bigger lot did not buy the half lot, Niggemann said.
Out of Lots 3, 4, 5 and 6, none of them have been purchased? Davis asked.
In 2014, the first six lots were created and were intended to be given away for free to encourage development, Niggemann said.
Eventually, Fraley received the next five lots, and then the remaining lots would be decided on a case-by-case basis, she said.
And there have been no cases since Fraley’s agreement for the five lots, Davis said.
The village board has to make a decision on the single-family lots 7, 8 and 9, Jenson said.
Stene reiterated his motion to treat Lot 7 the same as the first six lots and transfer the lot for free.
Lots 10 and 11 could be given away, too, Davis said.
The idea was for a developer to bring the proposal to the plan commission and then for the plan commission to make a recommendation to the village board on whether to offer additional lots for free, Niggemann said.
A plan commission meeting has not yet been scheduled for Lot 7, she said.
Davis said it seemed to be a case of “getting ahead of the horse” and that the proposal should go the plan commission first.
The village should skip the plan commission on this one, Stene said.
When the plan commission meets, they should have some suggestions for all five of the remaining lots instead of going on a case by case basis, Jenson said, adding, “What is fair?”
The plan commission had indicated at an earlier meeting that they wanted to go on a case by case basis, Niggemann said.
The only progress in building lately has been by John Fraley, she said.
Niggemann said she has had 10 contacts with people about the free lots in Phase I of East View and has had three or four additional contacts with many of the 10.
After all of the contacts, “no one has brought back a plan” except for John Fraley, she said.
The multi-family residential units would be a commercial venture, but the single family lots will be houses owned by individuals, Bates said.
Construction is needed for the Tax Increment Finance District, Niggemann said.
The goal is to have construction, and the village does not want to turn anyone away, she said.
Jenson said she did not want to turn anyone away, either, but that the village board had to be careful not to step on the plan commission’s toes.
“We need to have the proper order and procedure,” she said.
At the last plan commission meeting, they wanted to take it on a case by case basis, Niggemann said, adding “I thought that was what was on the table.”
The multi-family lots will have to go through the planning process. The single family lots have been very planned, she said.
The multi-family lots are larger, and there is no criteria for multi-family. Those bigger projects will have to analyzed, Niggemann said.
Then the village board should make a decision on Lots 7, 8 and 9, Jenson said.
All that is on the agenda is Lot 7, said Jeff Prince, village president.
Stene suggested acting on the motion he had made and then putting the issue of Lots 8 and 9 on the agenda for the next meeting.
Margaret Burcham, village trustee, said she would second Stene’s motion.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the motion to transfer Lot 7 to the Pudwills at no cost.
After the village board voted on the motion, Stene said he wanted to make a joke and to tell the Pudwills to have “lots of kids” to add to Colfax’s population.
Carita Pudwill laughed and said her “baby” is 42.
“I have lived in Minnesota for 67 years,” she said.
When asked what brought them to the Colfax area, the Pudwills said they have grandchildren in Boyceville and also in Oconomowoc.
Winnebago, Minnesota, is about halfway across Minnesota near the Iowa border.