Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Council okays use of city site for apartment project

Catie Clark
Posted 4/17/24

ELY- Continuing Ely’s growing cascade of actions to build new workforce apartments, the city council approved a resolution to commit the old city garage site on W. Pattison, to the project. …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Council okays use of city site for apartment project


ELY- Continuing Ely’s growing cascade of actions to build new workforce apartments, the city council approved a resolution to commit the old city garage site on W. Pattison, to the project. Then, it scheduled a special city council meeting for April 23 at 5 p.m. to formerly approve and certify the city’s Housing Rehabilitation Authority’s application for $4 million to the Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency. The application must be submitted to the state before the end of the month to be eligible for a grant from the $39 million fund that the Legislature allocated last year for workforce housing.
In other action, the council approved the second reading of Ordinance 376 2nd Series, which revises Ely City Code Chapter 11, Section 4 regarding conditional uses.
Jay Greeney, an Ely business owner spoke at the hearing, concerned whether his conditional use permit could be transferred to a new owner if he sold his business. Planning and Zoning Administrator Scott Kochendorfer explained the issue was moot for Greeney because under the revision to the ordinance, he no longer needed a CUP.
The council did approve an amendment to the ordinance change at the urging of council member Al Forsman, who noted that the revision would prohibit automotive repair businesses in the “M” zone district, while similar businesses, like machine shops and welding businesses, were permitted as a conditional use. He recommended that the revised ordinance be amended to allow automotive repair businesses with a CUP and the council agreed.
In other business, the city council:
• Approved quotes totaling $1,169 from Custom Theaters of Ely for the cabling and routers needed for high-definition internet on the recommendation the city’s Telecommunications Advisory Board (TAB).
• Approved a recommendation from TAB to pay Ely Area Television $150 for additional filming in March.
• Approved the recommendation from the employee relations committee to draft a memorandum of understanding to clarify step-up pay language in the current agreement with the local unit of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
• Approved the recommendation from employee relations to allow the use of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions. The council directed the city’s staff to draft a policy stating that the FMLA will be used as it has been in the past while recognizing that Ely is currently not obligated to do so because the city currently employs fewer than the minimum 50 employees required by FMLA.
• Approved the recommendation from employee relations to remove Jay Poshak from the Ely Fire Department. Poshak had not met the minimum attendance standards over the previous three years to remain part of the department.
• Approved the recommendation of employee relations to approve the job description for public works foreman and to advertise the position after the AFSCME local 1490 approves the job description.
• Approved Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps to work on the entrance gate columns at the city cemetery in June for $9,000 on the recommendation of the cemetery committee.
• Approved a two-year extension on the deadline to build a home at 2221 Sibley Dr.
“The owner, who lives in Texas, has had difficulty in finding contractors,” explained Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski. The city sold the property with the requirement that the owner must build a home there within a set time period. The city has granted similar extensions in the past for circumstances like this. The motion to grant the extension passed 6-1, with council member Adam Bisbee voting against.
• Approved a recommendation from the projects committee to replace the decorative lighting on Sheridan St. from Eighth to 17th Avenues. Langowski said that the project replaced the old lighting with LED lamps that are dark-sky compliant.
• Approved a recommendation from the projects committee to sponsor the funding application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grant will help fund a clean-up of the property near the depot. Langowski explained that the owners are cleaning up the property voluntarily. The owners are funding the clean-up, not the city. The city’s sponsorship is a requirement of the grant application.
• Approved the purchase of a Komatsu loader for $315,421 from Road Machinery & Supply Co. of Virginia, and its trade-in for $42,500 or its sale at a better price.
• Approved the purchase of a tandem axle dump truck from Ascendance Track Centers of Virginia for $303,135.
• Approved the purchase of a new police patrol vehicle from Lundgren Ford for $44,860.
• Heard the report from Langowski to remind Ely residents that no wood ash will be accepted at the dump or recycling center, “or we could get a fire like the one in Hibbing today.”
• Heard the report from Fire Chief David Marshall thanking the Ely Rod and Gun Club for their donation which enabled the FD to buy lights for all of the department’s firefighters.
• Received a letter from the Arbor Day Foundation congratulating Ely on earning recognition as a “2023 Tree City USA.”
• Approved city and EUC claims for payment of $506,683 for the period ending April 16.
• Approved an application by the city for a grant to work on the city’s Burntside water line from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority.
• Approved the lease between Ely and the Ely Golf Club Corporation. The lease must be renewed every two years. In a moment of levity, council member Jerome Debeltz asked, “Does this mean I need to learn how to golf.” Mayor Heidi Omerza replied, “We’ve already signed you up to give lessons.”
• Approved Resolution 2024-018, to change how the city processes write-in votes for candidates. “In the past,” Langowski explained, “we had to hand count every write-in vote, for Daffy Duck, Huey, Duey, and Luey, regardless.” The revision requires a candidate to inform the city seven days in advance that they want the city to count their write-in votes.
• Approved an amendment to the real estate contract to continue listing lots 9, 10, 11 in East Spaulding Addition until April 25, 2025. The contract is through agent Jim Burke at Keller Williams Classic Realty – Duluth.
• Approved a $4,143 residential rehab loan application for Taylor Davis to repair and line the sewer at 915 E. White St. The council directed city attorney Kelly Klun to work with the applicant and proceed with the loan application pending proper paperwork and fees.
• Approved a request for $11,200 from the Ely Arts and Heritage Center (EAHC) to match the $11,200 they have already raised, for electrical work and upgrades at the Miners Dry and Captains Dry Buildings. Council member Paul Kess remarked, “There’s not money in this year’s budget for this so it will come out of the general fund.” He added that the request came at an awkward time because the city is currently processing its department budget requests for next year’s budget. Langowski stated that the “last minute” request came in at 9:27 p.m. the previous evening, but that the EAHC had been working towards this work for years. He noted that the current lighting in the Miners Dry Building was appropriate for the facility’s historic use but not for its current use as a meeting and exhibition space.
The council approved the request 6-1, with Forsman voting against.
• Met in closed session at the end of the meeting for an employee disciplinary issue.