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Housing plan sought

Posted 6/07/16 (Tue)

By Carrie Sandstrom
A plea from a young couple Monday moved the Crosby City Council to begin the process of rezoning some of the commercial lots at Southridge Acres for potential residential development.
The decision came after a discussion about housing availability in the city after Nikita and Tyler Swanson said Crosby lacks affordable housing for families. According to Tyler, individuals looking to build a house right now in the area are hard pressed to do so for less than $300,000, an amount that Nikita says is unreasonable for the city’s size and location.
Initially, the couple proposed that the city or a developer build houses on the empty Southridge lots and sell them, saying they knew of at least six other families who would be interested in purchasing such properties if they could be sold for less than $250,000. According to Nikita, lack of affordable housing for growing families, could keep them from staying in the area, ultimately limiting the city’s economic growth. Nikita said developing Southridge residentially would also bring the city returns in the form of property taxes.
“In the long run I know the city is all about attraction,” Tyler said. “Using this development over here and having it where a family can actually stay in town and afford a piece of property they can call their own, you’re actually making an attraction.”
The city has already spent approximately $2.1 million developing the Southridge location, including providing access to water and electricity. Currently, commercial lots at the location are priced at $25,000 an acre, but much of the property has yet to be sold or developed. Crosby Mayor Bert Anderson said much of that investment has yet to be returned to the city.
Counciman Troy Vassen said he’d love to build at Southridge, but it would be hard to justify using taxpayer dollars to do so.
Vassen suggested the city create some lots out of unsold commercial spots that already have access to utilities. Anderson said the land first needs to be re-zoned.
Vassen also brought up concerns about trucks parking in Southridge. He pressed for the city to enforce a ruling last month, to stop allowing parking there.
Some council members expressed concern that if trucks cannot park at Southridge they will park in town or that local restaurants could lose business if truck drivers no longer stop and rest near the city. 
“It’s not our job to provide parking for someone else’s business,” Vassen countered.
“Maybe someone should buy a (Southridge) lot and rent out spots for trucks,” he added.
In other business, the council voted to spend $20,000 in architectural fees for a City Hall renovation. The plans would then be used to obtain bids or a construction manager, potentially in July.