Council explores code changes to help builders

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At Monday’s Estherville city council meeting, the council set a public hearing to consider adjusting the city’s commercial structure code. The current code lists a number of prohibited materials for the exterior of commercial buildings. The city has approved variances from this code, including for the addition to the Woody’s Pizza Building and for the new Scooter’s Coffee drive through.
The approved variances to city code allowed local builders to use modern materials on their buildings.
Laminated timber, modular bamboo, self-healing concrete, aerographite and translucent wood are among the 21st-century materials that have become popular in building materials. Randy Nissen of Estherville has put up wood frame and trusses for a pitched roof and framed in the blue building at 1226 Central Ave. that was formerly a florist shop.
Nissen’s plans for the building are to reface it with local school colors: a black roof, red shakes, white trim, red lap siding and onyx board and batten on the bottom portion. Nissen told city code officer Greg Van Langen that after meeting with contractors and suppliers, he feels a composite siding made by Diamond Kote would suit his needs and provide an attractive end product. The council approved Nissen’s variance and set a date for a public hearing to amend the zoning code language for accessory building and residential dwelling standards.
The council also approved property tax abatements for a number of commercial and residential taxpayers. For commercial properties, the abatement is for 100% of the value of any improvements up to three years; for residential properties it is the same for five years, up to $75,000 in additional value.
One of the commercial abatements was for Sweet Shop, LLC at 20 S. 17th Street, a former public health location. Owner Brad Held told the Estherville News additional information about the new ice cream shop would be available in the coming weeks.
In other business, the city council affirmed its first city property tour at the power plant, to take place at its next meeting, 5 p.m. Jan. 17. Following the tour, the council will finish its meeting at the council chambers of city hall.
In other business, the city council passed a resolution that creates an assessment schedule for city residents who have not paid for the city’s cost of abating nuisances on their property. For most of the property owners this year, the abatement was for mowing. One assessment was for someone who ran into a light pole at Thoreson Park.
The council also approved the renewal of the liquor licenses for Woody’s Pizza and Mother Nature’s Restaurant, and held its public hearing on amending the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget.
Finally, the council approved a wastewater treatment agreement with moveero of Estherville, the new name for GKN Armstrong Wheels. The agreement includes the new name of the company.
The city council will start the Jan. 17- meeting at 5 p.m. at the city power plant.

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