Report on Nov. 21 special city council meeting.

The city council held a special meeting on Nov. 21 to consider a variance request by Harris and Carrie Solma on a new house build at 404 7th Ave. NE. The variance was to allow a 20-foot front yard set back, rather than the required 25-foot setback from the property line. The basement was already built and was placed in the wrong location by the contractor. The Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended approval, calling it an “honest mistake, nothing intentional.”

The council discussed the city’s procedure—permit applied for showing proper location, city planning official measured properly, owner and contractor responsible to follow permit. Council members Dick Zinniel and Larry Braun suggested looking at the procedure in the future to determine if some change could or should be made to prevent errors such as this. They acknowledged the error was on the part of the contractor; city staff did everything correctly.

City Attorney Alissa Fischer reminded the council that if they decided to grant the variance, they should detail practical difficulties with the project if they wished to avoid setting a precedent.

A motion to allow the variance passed and included the following reasons: moving the basement would create an adverse economic impact; no issues with visibility for drivers in the neighborhood exist; no objections were received from neighbors; and the time of year is a factor—the project needs to move forward with pouring of the cement basement floor.

Because the council was gathered for a meeting, they’d also scheduled time to review architect Eric Oleson’s predesign plan for remodeling the former liquor store for use as the police station. Oleson’s plan included a reception area, two offices, an interview room, a report room, break room, and officer restroom and evidence storage lockers in the basement. An attached heated garage would be built. The remodeled space would also house the PUC office outside of the secured police station.

Oleson’s preliminary estimate for the project came to $539,280. The council approved a motion to have Oleson prepare plans, specs and documents for the bidding process. This was not a decision to approve the project, but to move forward for more information.