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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely finds developer for apartment project

Catie Clark
Posted 3/13/24

ELY—At the city council meeting here on Tuesday, Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski reported that the city has found a potential developer for its planned housing project after more than a …

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Ely finds developer for apartment project


ELY—At the city council meeting here on Tuesday, Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski reported that the city has found a potential developer for its planned housing project after more than a year of searching.
“The apartment complex housing project has been picking up some momentum here in the last probably month or so,” Langowski told the council. “Working with Ely’s Housing and Redevelopment Agency, we’ve been able to get a developer, so now we’re working with them on an almost daily basis starting to put this project together.”
The current proposal is for a 37-unit single-building apartment structure. Units will range from studios to large three-bedroom apartments, rented at market rates or less if possible. The plans include a small playground and twenty stalls of covered parking. The city will be able to leverage $2,000 in planning costs and the value of the city’s property by the city garages near the hospital as matching funds as they pursue grants.
The grant situation looks promising, Langowski said. The city applied for a $1 million housing grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and Langowski said that the city received a recommendation for $850,000. The city’s developer, D. W. Jones, is currently preparing an application to the Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency which is due by the end of April, to pursue workforce housing funding already allocated for projects like Ely’s. If that funding as well as the IRRR moneys come through, the city will need to bond for $3.5 million.
When funding is secured, Langowski estimated that preliminary planning and utilities work could commence this year with the main phase of construction taking place in 2025.
In other matters of business, the city council:
• Approved the attendance of the city council and staff at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on April 17 and the chamber’s “Celebrate Ely” event on April 11 at the Grand Ely Lodge.
• Approved the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting on April 11 from 5-6 p.m. in the council chambers.
• Approved a recommendation from the tree board to display the Tree City USA flag in City Hall.
• Approved a recommendation from the tree board to provide financial support for travel expenses of not more than $270 to send Claudia McBride to the Shade Tree Short Course in the Twin Cities.
• Approved the recommendations from the planning and zoning commission (P&Z) and the park and recreation board to proceed with the Miners Lake East Parking Area Project and to install a portable restroom.
• Did not accept a recommendation from P&Z for Attorney Klun to review the state noise and lighting requirements. The recommendation was turned down on the advice of Langowski, who pointed out, “We already follow the state statute concerning noise and light. When a project is developed, we are required to follow the building code, the zoning code, our local ordinances and all state and federal laws. So, I don’t know if there’s necessarily a reason for additional review of ordinances concerning noise or light when we follow the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency guidelines.”
• Heard the report from council member Angela Campbell that the Heritage Preservation Commission’s oral history project for the 100-year anniversary of the Ely Memorial High School building will record the oral history videos on March 13 and 14.
• Approved the recommendation from telecommunications advisory board (TAB) to authorize additional filming of events and meetings at a rate of $25 per hour. Additional filming will be authorized by TAB on a monthly basis.
• Accepted the letter of resignation from the P&Z from Mike Banovetz and approved posting for the open position. Emily Roose will replace Banovetz at the chair of P&Z. Banovetz faced unruly and vocal residents attending P&Z meetings last fall who focused much of their ire over the proposed RV parks in the Spaulding neighborhood on Banovetz. He will continue to serve on Ely’s Police Commission and on the cemetery and projects committees.
City council member Al Forsman thanked Banovetz for his service. “He’s been very instrumental on a number of projects,” Forsman said, “like short term rentals. He’s donated a lot of time on behalf of our community.”
• Approved the recommendation from employee relations to approve the budgeted pay increases for the fire department. There have been no increases since 2021.
• Approved the recommendation from the park and recreation board to allow Jeremy Kershaw with the Heck of the North Bike Race to camp at Semer’s Beach on July 19-20.
• Approved the recommendation from Ely Utilities Commission (EUC) to purchase 48 load management relays for $9,984.
• Approved the recommendations from EUC and the employee relations committee to hire Destin Anderson for the Water/Wastewater Operator II position.
• Approved a recommendation from EUC to pay AE2S invoice 92687 for the wastewater treatment facility improvements project for $10,105, invoice 92688 for water treatment plant improvements for $7,191, and invoice 92689 for general consulting services for $474.
• Heard the report from Fire Chief David Marshall about a successful prescribed burn at the Dorothy Molter Museum on Monday. At the burn site, the Ely Fire Department worked with the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resource Technician (NRT) program students from the Vermilion Campus of Minnesota North College.
“It was the first time ever Vermilion NRT students did that sort of understory prescribed burn,” Marshall remarked, “where you have trees overhead and they were burning underneath. It was a great experience for the students.”
• Heard the report of Police Chief Chad Houde on the ongoing and successful efforts to hire new patrol officers for the city’s open positions.