Mitchell City Council eyes adding City Hall to historic listIt could be a historic mistake. Adding Mitchell City Hall to the Historic Downtown Commercial District could block revisions of the building and prevent the city from ever tearing the building down.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
It could be a historic mistake.
Adding Mitchell City Hall to the Historic Downtown Commercial District could block revisions of the building and prevent the city from ever tearing the building down, the Mitchell City Council was told Monday night in City Hall’s Council Chambers.
City Attorney Carl Koch warned placing the 1937 building on the register, as is proposed by the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office, a division of the South Dakota State Historical Society, could backfire on the city. The council, which must submit a report to the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office before Dec. 7, tabled the issue and will discuss it again at its Nov. 19 meeting.
Koch said accepting the designation may limit what the city can do with the building without an investigation by and comment from the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office, with the building’s owner required to “minimize harm” to the historic structure. He said that could get in the way of plans to remodel the building and make it part of the Corn Palace. That plan has been on the table for years and has picked up steam lately with the city moving to relocate city hall in a new building.
“That’s the crux of the matter right there,” Koch said.
He said the city could also “end up in circuit court,” and the way the law is written, the court would give “great weight” to the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office’s view. That could block any changes, he said, and he thinks it will if the building lands on the register.
Koch said he would “not in my lifetime” see major changes to the structure if that happens.
However, Councilman Phil Carlson, who is a lawyer, said the way he reads the law, the council would have great say on the usage of the building. Koch said that is a possible legal interpretation as well.
Council President Jeff Smith said it’s important to know that no final plans have been made on the future of City Hall and the area around it. He also asked City Planner Neil Putnam to investigate how likely it is that Mitchell would qualify for federal grants, a benefit of being on the register, and was told few come to the state.
Councilman Greg McCurry said he feels the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office will likely place City Hall within the district no matter what the city says and does, and Mayor Ken Tracy agreed. McCurry said if that is the case, he wonders if it is worth the city’s time to invest staff time and effort into the situation.
Koch recalled when the old Notre Dame Academy was closed in 2000, the building was on the historic register, and a long battle was started over the future of the building, which wasn’t demolished until 2005 after an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Tracy noted he was on the council at the time and said there was extensive opposition from Notre Dame alumni. That might not happen if the city decides to tear down City Hall, or make major revisions to the building, the mayor said.
After the meeting, Carlson said the academy was still demolished, but the Mitchell Catholic School System had to follow a rigorous process.
Koch said revisions to the Corn Palace would not be a major problem, but attempting to remove it may lead to a major issue, and potentially legal problems. That sparked a reaction.
“I don’t want my hands tied for another 10 years,” Councilman Dan Allen said.
“Try 100,” Koch said.
Mitchell Area Historic Preservation Commission President Carrie English said the state office has been very cooperative and worked well with the city and Mitchell agencies. Placing City Hall on the National Register of Historic Place is a positive thing for the city, English said.
“We were excited to see it added to the list,” she said.
English said the state historic office would primarily want the outside of the building preserved but would not have much to say about interior alterations. English also noted that the building, which was an armory before city offices moved there in 1960, has been remodeled and revised numerous times.
Putnam explained the process to the council. Putnam, along with Mitchell Area Historical Society President Lyle Swenson, Mitchell Main Street & Beyond Executive Director Molly Goldsmith and others met with staffers from the state office as the district’s boundaries were set.
The downtown area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and the area was expanded in 1995. But it would shrink under this new proposal, as some properties would be removed.
Several residential addresses would also be removed from the commercial district and placed in a residential district.
The state office did a survey of the district in 2008-2009, and then again in 2011. Office staffers have met with city officials, as well as representatives of the Mitchell Historic Preservation Commission, the Mitchell Area Historical Society and Mitchell Main Street & Beyond.
To see the proposed district, go to www.history.sd.gov. It is linked under the “In the Spotlight” section as a PDF.
Developer’s agreement approved
The council adopted Resolution 3043, a developer’s agreement for Tax Increment District 16 with Innovative Systems LLC.
The TIF is for $1.52 million. For every TIF that is approved by a government entity, the developer must enter into an agreement with the city.
“It is basically a document stating the financial arrangements between the city, developer and the bond holders for TIF 16,” City Planner Neil Putnam told The Daily Republic. “A portion of TIF 16 overlaps into a portion of TIF 7 boundaries. TIF 16 was adopted by the council in September 2011. The document outlines the responsibilities and the appropriate payments to the respective TIFs.”
When it was approved in 2011, the property in TIF 16 consisted of four parcels, one owned by Innovative Systems LLC, operated by Mitchell businessman Roger Musick, and three by CJM Consulting Inc., which is owned by Mitchell developer Chuck Mauszycki Sr.
Innovative Systems now owns all the property in TIF 16 after Mauszycki and Musick did a land swap.
Mitchell lawyer Don Petersen, who works on most TIFs and many property deals in the city, said the five-year deadline to install public improvements was up, so the parties entered into an agreement on property along the bypass. As part of that overall plan, they decided to make this deal, turning the land that was once in TIF 7 over to Musick for TIF 16.
The council tabled approving the agreement at its Oct. 15 meeting on Koch’s advice, but Smith said those concerns were addressed. Mayor Ken Tracy said then that TIF 7, located along Ohlman Street, never fully developed, but Petersen said it was doing fine.
Innovative Systems, a telecommunications company, announced a 30,000 square feet expansion in June 2011 that would also mean adding 30 more employees.
Hospital drainage project
The council approved city project 2012-2, which comes with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for Avera Queen of Peace Hospital drainage. The maximum grant is $1.5 million.
The local match for the project would be 25 percent of that total, with the city and the hospital both kicking in about $25,000.
Public Works Director Tim McGannon said the hospital has twice flooded after heavy rains. This would prevent that, and would also work to ensure the emergency room would be open in case of a major disaster caused by a tornado or large storm that dumped a great deal of rain on the city.
The council also approved an engineering agreement for the project with SPN & Associates
Board of Adjustment meets
The Board of Adjustment:
* Held a council-mandated one-year review of a conditional use permit given to Olawa Rae-Bruhjell in 2011 for her massage school business at 1111 S. Miller St. and, after receiving a letter from the permit holder and hearing no complaints, extended the CUP and dropped the requirement of further reviews.
* Set a Nov. 19 date for a hearing on the application of Sheena Vawser for a conditional use permit to operate a child care center in her home at 211 W. Douglas Ave. A hearing had inadvertently been scheduled for Monday.
* Set a Nov. 19 date for a hearing on the application of Jason Carpenter for a back yard variance of 14 feet instead of 30 feet for a garage addition at 1709 Bridle Drive.
* Set a Nov. 19 date for a hearing on the application of Margaret Bollack for a front yard variance of 22 feet instead of the mandated 30 feet for a garage extension at 1215 W. Fifth Ave.
* Set a Nov. 19 date for a hearing on the application of Lois Swenson for a front yard variance of 18.5 feet instead of the required 30 feet to install a carport at 720 W. Sixth Ave.
In other business, the council:
* Adopted Resolution 3042, Tax Increment Financing District 18, for the South Point Village project. The Planning Commission recommended approval. Phase one of the project will be turning Capital Street from a gravel road to a paved street. There would be $17 million in new buildings if the entire housing project comes to fruition.
* Adopted Resolution 3044, declaring hazardous sidewalk at 321 N. Rowley St. The property owner asked for the declaration to have the sidewalk repaired.
* Held the second reading of and adopted Ordinance 2414, supplemental appropriations of $90,000 for land acquisition for a new city hall, $35,000 for forcemain repairs, and $26,550 for sidewalk construction.
* Held the first reading of Ordinance 2415, rezoning real property legally described as Lots 9 and 10, Block 92, Lawler’s Second Addition in the city of Mitchell, from single family residential district to high density residential district and amending the city’s zoning map.
* Held the first reading of Ordinance 2416, rezoning real property legally described as the north 1,000 feet of Lot 8, except the east 14 feet thereof in the northwest quarter and except H2; Section 33, Township 103 North, Range 60 West, Davison County, from urban development district UD to highway oriented business district and amending the city zoning map. A building will be moved from 111 N. Rowley for this project. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on this Tuesday, Nov. 13, since city offices will be closed Nov. 12 in observance of Veterans Day.
* Authorized the purchase of a dump truck chassis off the 2012-32 project bid for $82,949 from Westman Freightliner Inc., of Marshall, Minn. That was the lowest of four bids.
* Held the first reading of Ordinance 2417, supplemental appropriations of $83,000 for a dump truck chassis, $59,215 for bond principals and fees, $20,000 for liability insurance, $1,400 for books and manuals, and $25 for construction.
* Reviewed Mitchell Municipal Airport project 3-46-0037-25-2012, a financial assistance agreement with the state Department of Transportation for a snow removal equipment building. Work on the building started last week and is half-completed, McGannon said. It’s a $480,000 project, with the federal share being 90 percent, an 8 percent state share and 2 percent, or $9,600, from the city.
* Considered an agreement with SDDOT for appraisal, appraisal review and negotiation work for Spruce Street right of way involving 17 landowners.
* Amended Resolution 2619, the credit card acquisition and use policy for city workers, which had a $2,000 cap, allowing the finance officer to increase it to $5,000. Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling made the request to book travel expenses for acts performing at the city-owned facility. The city would receive any auxiliary benefits, such as frequent-flyer miles.
* Contracted for E-911 services with Aurora, Brule, Hanson, Hutchinson and McCook counties. It’s an annual approval. The counties pay $6 per person for the service, plus a police traffic fee. All told, it brings in $172,726.76 to the city.
* Approved an automatic supplement to the Special Revenue Fund, Parks, Recreation & Forestry, in the amount of $1,500 for rubberized flooring for the Mitchell Activities Center from a donation of funds.
* Approved an automatic supplement to the Special Revenue Fund, Parks, Recreation & Forestry, in the amount of $1,445 for vehicle windshield repair from hail damage from an insurance claim reimbursement.
* Declared surplus the Corn Palace concessions ice cream machine and Flavor-Burst. Other concession equipment will be bought, Schilling said.
* Approved two raffle requests: DWU men and women’s basketball teams, with the drawings to be held on all home basketball games in 2012-2013. Mitchell Pink Ladies Dart League, with the drawing to be held on Jan. 26.
* Approved pay estimates.
* Noted the absence of Councilman Mel Olson, a teacher who was preparing for the Mitchell High School musical “Oklahoma.”