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New DL police officer sworn in

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

From swearing in a new officer to recapping a housing study, approving condos to setting the preliminary 2014 levy, the Detroit Lakes City Council approved a variety of items Tuesday evening.

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New officer sworn in

Ben Bruce, who grew up in Cambridge, Minn., was sworn in as the newest police officer for the Detroit Lakes Police Department.

Bruce, who is filling the opening from Tami Hunt leaving the DLPD, worked as a police officer in Lake Park before coming to Detroit Lakes.

He and his wife are expecting their first child at the end of January, he said.

“I’m only 26 and looking for a bright future,” he told the council Tuesday.

Housing study

Detroit Lakes is growing and in need of housing – especially low-income housing.

Charged with presenting a complete housing study based on the needs of the growing city, Scott Knudson of Community Partners Research, Inc. spoke to both the Detroit Lakes Development Authority and the city council Tuesday afternoon.

Briefly reviewing the 130-page study findings, Knudson said the population of Detroit Lakes is growing thanks to the 55 years and older demographic. He estimates 50 to 55 households being added a year.

The study includes the city of Detroit Lakes and two adjoining townships, he said.

He said that Detroit Lakes wasn’t hit hard with foreclosures compared to other communities.

The findings also show that 40 percent of the people in the Detroit Lakes community rent their housing units.

“There is an extremely low vacancy rate,” he said of rental units in the area.

In fact, for low-income housing, there is a zero percent vacancy rate because there is a list of 260 people waiting for low-income housing to open up.

While Knudson didn’t give specific suggested locations for new housing during the council meeting, he said age-appropriate housing is recommended, like one-level and minimum maintenance. He said to expect to see a rise in condos and townhouses.

He said not to forget about the already existing properties as well.

“The most affordable are the existing ones already in the ground.”

Resorts down, condos up

The council approved the preliminary plan for an 18-unit condominium along West Lake Drive.

The project includes taking down the Pine to Palm Motel, the Viking Motel and two residential homes. It would stretch from 612 to 702 West Lake Drive and is about 2.8 acres.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen said that there are 29-35 units on the land, “depending on who is counting.” The impervious surface will be drastically reduced to the 25 percent as required, and the project will blend in with its surroundings.

The developers, Minnesota Hospitality Inc., plan to keep the roofline near the treetops, and the roof will be potentially a flat, green space with grass on the roof, Tom Klyve said. Klyve is serving as the finance officer for Minnesota Hospitality on the project.

The council approved the project with multiple conditions. A couple include no docks on the public beach, and a bike trail easement will be written into the variance for future city planning.

Alderman Ron Zeman said he understood the project was a high end one, with units selling for $350,000 to $400,000.

“Or more,” Klyve said.

The project will need to come back to the city council for final approval, which will include design of the building. Klyve said they plan to build next spring.

Max tax levy

While they can always lower it before December, the city council set the maximum levy for 2014.

The rate has been set for 4.61 percent, which can be lowered, but not increased.

Zeman said the good news is that at the start of the year, properties around Long Lake will be annexed into the city and therefore add to the tax base.

He said that on a $100,000 home, the tax will increase from about $293 to $301.

During the regular council meeting on Dec. 10, the city will discuss the 2014 budget and levy and asks for public input. It will be at 6 that evening.

Grab your bike

Members of the State Capital Investment Committee for the Heartland Trail extension will be visiting The Lodge on Lake Detroit and the site of the new tunnel on Sept. 19.

They will be there around 12:45 p.m., and organizers are encouraging people to come out and show their support for the Heartland Trail extension between Frazee and Detroit Lakes.

Alderman Bruce Imholte said people are encouraged to bring their bikes, snowmobiles, anything to show their support.

On Sept. 18, the DNR will be hosting a meeting to discuss the design and development of the south public access on Detroit Lake. The meeting is at 10 a.m. in the city council chambers at City Hall.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.

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