Council allows for restoration of fire damaged home
Road classification, funding discussed for roads
GRAFTON – A previously condemned house in Grafton won’t be demolished, at least not yet. The Grafton City Council, at its regular meeting Monday, unanimously passed a motion to allow the owners of the house at 644 Stephen Avenue in Grafton time to remodel the structure that was damaged by fire last winter.
Randy and Martin Franco purchased the home, built in 1924, from Dale Paulson in May.
In a public hearing at Monday’s meeting, city building officer Scott Boura told the council that Randy Franco visited him early last summer and asked if the house could be restored. Boura gave him the go ahead and said some work was done in the course of a week or so, but after that no more “reasonable progress” was made for several months. Boura said he did not give the Francos a specific period of time in which the work needed to be completed when he spoke to them last summer.
Boura said his office had received several complaints about the house over the summer and fall because of its unsightly appearance and the fact that there were two windows on the house that were not sealed and could allows pests to get inside the house.
Randy Franco told council members that he and his brother gutted most of the interior of the house. He said they had a buyer for the house who was planning to move to Grafton from California, but their move was delayed for personal reasons. Franco said the family is planning on coming to Grafton within the next two months to begin working on the house. He said it is their intention to completely restore the house to living condition.
Boura estimated the cost of repairs to be $16,000 or 64 percent of the assessed value of the house.
Martin Franco said that he and his brother along with the new owner plan to do most of the work themselves which will keep the cost down.
Len Wysocki made the motion to allow the Francos to restore the house in a reasonable period of time. The motion stated that the matter will be revisited in June and Boura would work with the Francos and check on the progress of the project. The motion was seconded by Tim McDonald and passed unanimously.
Upon recommendation from the Economic Development Committee (EDC) the council, by an 8-1 vote, approved a transfer of $100,000 from the EDC’s sales tax general fund to the Grow Grafton Fund. Since 2006, the Grow Grafton program allows incentives for construction, of new homes in the city including an allocation of $20,000 to new home builders.
Hutson was the lone council member to vote against the transfer.
“My position is we’re (the council) looking for money and here we’re just giving it away,” he said.
Hutson said that it would take about 20 years for the city to recoup the $20,000 from the average homeowner, through property taxes.
Mayor Chris West said he feels the Grow Grafton program was a nice incentive for younger home buyers who may not otherwise have an opportunity to build a new home. He also said the program allows for a good rotation of housing stock within the city.
The council also discussed the future of road projects in the city. Engineer Jon Markusen with Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson of Grafton presented council members with a handout detailing daily traffic volumes on the various streets and highways in the city.
The council discussed the possibility of developing a funding mechanism based on the traffic volume and importance of a certain thoroughfare, for example a road that leads to the hospital or school. The higher the classification, the more the cost would be shared among the taxpayers.
Council members were also given information on how other cities comparable to Grafton fund their road projects. One example brought forward was the city of Ashley which assesses a $30 charge per month on their utility bills. That money is then put into a fund for road projects.
No action was taken and the council plans on revisiting road classification and possible alternatives for funding over the course of the next several meetings.
In other business the council
• Upon recommendation from the Ways and Means Committee (WMC), passed a motion raising the fees for inspections on new pre-manufactured homes in the city.
Also upon the recommendation of the WMC, the council passed a motion to approve several engineering contracts with KLJ for 2014 road projects.
The next meeting of the Grafton City Council is scheduled for Monday, March 10, at city hall.