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Council approves first reading of change to retail shopping overlay district

The Worthington City Council on Monday, following a recommendation from the city’s planning commission, approved the first reading of language that would completely remove the city’s retail shopping overlay district from city code.

The current retail shopping overlay district has restricted the ground level uses permitted along 10th Street to retail/commercial and restaurants. The planning commission hosted a public hearing on the matter earlier this month, then made its recommendation to council. Worthington Steve Robinson explained that under the current city code, a service office or professional office is not an approved occupancy and would require a conditional use permit. The motivation behind the change is to have storefronts along 10th Street that are filled with businesses and not restricted to merely restaurants and retail businesses.

Robinson added that there has been no public comment received yet on the potential change. Three public readings are required to remove the overlay district from city code, and they are scheduled for the next two city council meetings.

Also Monday, council members approved a resolution that conveyed the city’s Glenwood Heights Third Addition to the Worthington Economic Development Authority so that lots may be sold to interested parties for residential development in accordance with state statute. The action makes the EDA the official owner of the development, which is comprised of 37 total executive, move-up and villa (or twin home) lots.

Additionally, council members Monday approved a preliminary plat in the Drost Addition at Nobles County 35 and Nobles County 5 that would create one new lot containing an existing residential home and some accessory buildings.

The subject property, located at approximately 244 Nobles County 5, had been previously included with a Common Interest Community Plat with the intention of building large storage buildings on the property. The applicant is now seeking to potentially sell the property. Due to its ‘tie in’ with a C.I.C plat, it must be platted to split it back out to a separate lot.

In a non-action item, the council took part in a discussion pertaining to public safety concerns and dispatch service. Robinson explained that the council directed the city’s administration to work with its emergency response partners –- including Sanford Worthington, the Worthington Fire Department, the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office and Nobles County Emergency Management –- to collaborate on emergency responses and emergency medical responses. That collaboration, Robinson added, entails utilizing all available resources.

The council also voted Monday to change current parking restrictions on 11th Street from Second Avenue to Third Avenue from two hours to four hours, with no parking still allowed between 1 and 6 a.m. The change had been requested so that those utilizing the Center for Active Living would not have to move their vehicles after two hours. Other blocks on 11th Street had already had four-hour restrictions.

Council members also approved plans for the 2022 bituminous pavement projects as well as passed a resolution pertaining to bond for the costs incurred in making the improvements. This year’s bituminous work includes portions of five different streets –- Apel Avenue, Bristol Street, Cynthia Avenue, Eleanor Street and West Oxford Street. Work on the five streets carries a maximum bond amount of $1,302,000; a project along Eighth Avenue from Ninth Street to its westerly terminus carries a maximum bond amount of $1,225,000.

Robinson also provided council members with an update on the Main Street Economic Revitalization program made possible through $750,000 in grant proceeds from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The city is acting as a facilitator in assisting the Southwest Initiative Foundation in publicizing the program and designing it to meet Worthington’s specific needs. There are three targeted areas for the program –- the downtown area from First to Fifth avenues bordered by Ninth and 12th streets, the entire length of Oxford Street from Diagonal Road to the Minnesota 60 roundabout and North Humiston Avenue from Oxford Street to Interstate 90.

The tentative plan is that the program will kick off May 6 and have an initial deadline for applications of June 10. Award determinations will follow.

Robinson added that in an effort to have as many eligible projects as possible, the maximum grant award will be $30,000. The grant awards will be up to 30% of the total project costs. There’s potential for re-evaluation of the grant amounts depending on application volume.

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