Onamia City Hall

Onamia city council member Marge Agnew checked off one more of a dozen new signs being erected around town.

A new housing development was up for consideration at the Onamia City Council’s regular meeting on Wednesday, April 10. In addition to this new project, the city was also given an update on the state of the pilot study for the water and sewer project by maintenance assistant Josh True.

Housing project

Vicki Parsons, chair of for the city’s planning commission, brought forward the request the commission had received from Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures. In order to bring more workers to the area, Corporate Ventures was looking to construct new housing units at the site where Meat on Mille Lacs was once located off of Hwy. 47. The zoning for this property would need to be reclassified from commercial to residential (R1) in order to do so.

Parsons initially said that the re-zoning would need be contingent on Corporate Ventures receiving a tax credit to move forward with the projects. However, mayor Marge Agnew said the city’s attorney had informed them this sort of contingency was not possible. Parsons said she would inform Corporate Ventures about this, but as it currently stood, the planning commission had accepted the proposal, contingency included.

Parsons asked that the city prepare a letter of approval to be sent to Corporate Ventures. A public hearing would also need to be held, scheduled for May 6 at 6 p.m.

Parsons further clarified that the project aimed to offer affordable housing to anyone working in the area, however Parsons added that it would not be through the Section 8 housing program. Though Corporate Ventures was connected to the Mille Lacs Band, it also would not be limited to Band members. “The intention for this housing is not for Corporate Ventures to make money,” Parsons said. “They are trying to get people here to work.” The proposed project would create 30 units between 15 duplexes. Parsons said that if Corporate Ventures could get financing approved this year, the project would begin June 2020 and run through December 2021.

Agnew voiced her support for the project, and the rest of council voted in favor of writing a letter of support.

Street sweeper

Maintenance assistant Josh True, filling in for maintenance supervisor Gene Falconer, brought forward a proposed purchase of a street sweeper Falconer had been considering. Presently, the city shares a street sweeper for seasonal use from Isle.

This sweeper was located in South Dakota in “as is, where it is” for $1,500. True figured the shipping would cost between $1,500 to $2,000. The city would need to factor in the cost of shipping the vehicle into the purchase. Another city also had first claim to the vehicle, and Onamia would get it only if the other city did not accept it.

The council approved the purchase, contingent on whether the other city accepts it and the best possible price for shipping is pursued.

Water and sewer

True informed the council that the previous positive results he had received from the pilot study on well 4 had proven to be an error. Presently samples from the well were showing results of around 12 parts per million for ammonia. Given the current state of the pilot study, True believed that the Department of Health would recommend for the abandonment of well 4.

True said that the pilot study would begin to move along more quickly if it was move to well 3. True said the work he had done on well 3 had always shown 3 or less parts per million of ammonia, which was within the range of what the study had been removing from well 4.

True also informed the council about the needed treatment of the sewer ponds for phosphorous. There were a range of options available to the council. These included chemical treatment and installing a boat ramp to do treatment from a boat. The council spent some time discussing the option of a grid-based mixer installed at the center of the pond. This mixer could turn over the water of the pond once every 24 hours and would also administer chemical treatment to the water.

Whatever solution the city went with, True expected running power back to the pond was necessary. This would cost $23,000. The grid-based mixer was estimated to cost around $43,000. While incorporating this treatment into the water and sewer project could delay the project two years, True said, there was still potential the project could help provide funding. True added that he was only informing the council of what options had been considered. As of yet, the council has not committed to any one option. True stated the decision would need to be reached this summer.

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