Ottertail growth not as intense as anticipated
By Louis Hoglund email@example.com Controlled, managed or uncontrolled growth--which will it be in Ottertail? After several years of startling predictions of intense growth, city officials are stepping back, catching their breath and looking at the ...
By Louis Hoglund
Controlled, managed or uncontrolled growth--which will it be in Ottertail?
After several years of startling predictions of intense growth, city officials are stepping back, catching their breath and looking at the next decade more calmly.
Lets be realistic. Weve been concerned that the city is going to double in size in the next ten years, said Councilman Terry Wagenman at the March 2 council meeting. There have been alot of big dreams--but its not happening that fast.
A wide-ranging discussion of growth was fueled by concerns of long range wastewater treatment needs, among other issues.
The city isnt growing as fast as many had predicted, acknowledged city engineer Chris McConn, who described it as a controlled growth.
The objective is controlled growth....but not so hungry for development that youre desperate...We would rather be a town of 500 and on budget--rather than 1,500 and running scared, said McConn.
Last summer, the growth was at a perfect pace, said city coordinator Lee Sherman. A dozen new home permits were issued in 2005, compared to 20 in 2004. Several of those were tear-down and replace homes, which means these were not contributing to net growth.
City officials agreed that Ottertail will grow, but ideally in a pay as you go manner. Rather than investing municipal money in streets, curbs, wastewater treatment and signage--developers will finance infrastructure for their projects.
Some cities have been so anxious for growth, they do whatever they can to attract developers, said Sherman. If we as a city subsidize development, it comes out of city coffers.
Councilman Jeff Spanswick said the developer should be expected to front the cost of road improvements and cluster sewer systems--if needed. Then, the cost of infrastructure can be passed on to homebuyers.
The city has a standing application with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, for a proposed $3.2 million wastewater treatment project that may never happen. But It is doubtful that the city will proceed with a large scale, central sewer system. For one thing, the MPCA ranked the project 173rd in priority. Secondly, city officials are backing up and taking a go slow approach to any major initiatives.
More likely, developers will be responsible for constructing cluster treatment systems for up to 22 homes.
As it stands, there are three larger residential plats in Ottertail:
Thumper Pond, which projected ten homes per year, but last year five were built.
Happy Acres is a 40 home plat, which will be connected to Thumper Ponds large cluster system.
Deer Run: The plat calls for 70 homes, but the development is still in the planning stages. Wastewater treatment plans for Deer Run are not yet official, but the lots would be large enough to accommodate individual, on-site septic systems.
All three projects are evolving somewhat slower than originally anticipated.
Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the city, present on-site septic systems, scattered in various neighborhoods, are due for another inspection.
Problem systems were upgraded about ten years ago when there was a city-wide initiative, said Sherman. But the city is due for another round of inspections, he added. Also, an inventory of existing septic tanks and their conditions will be needed
But as far as a sweeping, large scale project to address present and future wastewater treatment, city officials are taking a slow down, dont rush into anything view, said Sherman.
Maybe we dont need an elaborate central system...the growth will happen, but not so fast that we cant plan for it, he added. I think we all had fears that the city was going crazy with growth. Instead, it has been slow and controlled--not an explosion.