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Britt Commercial Park

The Burgardt Commercial Park off U.S. Highway 18 in Britt features nine lots that the Britt City Council priced in January. The park has been in the works since 2016.

BRITT | The Britt City Council is on “the right track.”

That’s what Attorney Earl Hill told the council Tuesday, April 10, after providing an update on the Burgardt Commercial Park, which features nine lots positioned between U.S. Highway 18 and Diagonal Street on nearly eight acres of land purchased by the city in 2016.

Hill’s update came three weeks after he recommended the city start its development process over by submitting the project to the seven-member Planning and Zoning Board to ensure proper documentation is in place, so he can file the final plat with the Hancock County Auditor’s Office, which is something, he said at the time, hadn’t been done.

“I have an answer to a question you’ve asked several times and that’s what happened to the Burgardt thing?” he said.

The answer? A plats officer, or lack thereof.

According to the city’s subdivision ordinance, a plats officer is someone who the council appoints to shepherd developments along and enforce the code.

“I don’t know that it’s a big issue at this juncture, but I would like to see the plats officer be appointed because from here on out the plats officer is supposed to be doing some written reports to the council,” he said.

Hill recommended the appointment of Mike Boomgarden, the city’s zoning administrator, as plats officer, and with the council agreeing, Mayor Ryan Arndorfer appointed him.

Hill also told the council the Planning and Zoning Board met on March 29 and found two issues with the city’s proposed plat.

The first was the city’s failure to comply with its zoning ordinance, which requires alleys in commercial subdivisions. He suggested amending the ordinance to make them optional, otherwise, said the council, at the recommendation of City Administrator/Clerk Debra Sawyer, could approve a variance.

“To me, I can live with it either way,” he said.

The city council, with Stacy Swenson absent, unanimously approved a variance from the alleys requirement in the city’s subdivision ordinance.

The second issue was a list comprising property owners within 200 feet of the project boundaries hadn’t been compiled, which Hill said is a simple thing to get.

“Basically, it boils down to completion of those two items ... then, I think you need to approve ... the preliminary plat and that’s ready to go,” he said. “Then, we’re ready to move forward.”

Within the last two years, the Britt City Council has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into readying the lots for sale, which has consisted of demolition of the old hotel, removing trees and installing sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water utilities.

Last fall, McKiness Excavating Inc. of Mason City was awarded the $931,933 contract to install the underground utilities and pave the commercial park. The utilities were completed before winter, but the paving is scheduled to begin this spring.

Hill has yet to meet with council members Swenson and Curt Gast, Mayor Ryan Arndorfer and City Administrator/Clerk Debra Sawyer to discuss restrictions and a storm water utility fee at the commercial park, which, too, will go to the Planning and Zoning Board before the city council votes.

In January, the city set the initial pricing of its lots based on size and location after Britt Industrial Development Corp., commonly known as BIDCO, installed a sign at the site directing interested parties to call City Hall for more information. The prices range from $25,000 for half-acre lots to $100,000 for the 1.76-acre lot with highway frontage.

Also during the April 10 meeting:

• The city council appointed Steve Lansing as the Summer Recreation director.

• Connie Burgardt requested permission to install a hard-surface commercial access road along U.S. Highway 18 across from the 60-foot strip on the west side of Pritchard. The city didn’t have any issue with it, but suggested he speak with the Iowa Department of Transportation before moving forward.

• The city council changed the date of its first June meeting to Monday, June 5, since the Iowa League of Cities is holding a workshop in Britt on June 6 and Sawyer would like to see great attendance from the council.

• The city council discussed holding City-wide Cleanup Day on Saturday, June 2.

• The city council decided to forego its second April meeting because its April 3 meeting was postponed to April 10 due to a snowstorm.

• Jerry Christensen, who has led fundraising and organizational efforts to bring the Remembering Our Fallen National Memorial to Britt on April 26 to 29, requested the closure of Main Avenue from Center Street to Second Street, a street sweeper and other city services before, during and after the towers’ arrival, as well as area volunteers who can lift 50 to 60 pounds.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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