More than $200,000 in CARES Act funding was approved for business relief grants by the Detroit Lakes City Council, which also received public comments for assessments along the Washington Avenue street project during its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Council members approved 39 businesses to receive business relief grants of up to $9,000 and allocated the city's remaining CARES Act funds before their Nov. 15 spending deadline.

Residents also had the opportunity to voice their concerns about assessments associated with the city's $4.3 million Washington Avenue street upgrade project. With Becker County and the city picking up a majority of the cost of the project, 39 residents and businesses will be required by the contribute $315,593 through the assessments, or 7% of the project's total cost.

The amount of assessment depends on the size of the lot along the upgraded street, and sewer, or water, service lateral upgrades each property will receive. The assessment amounts range from $2,136 to $39,191 and can be paid over a 20-year period with a 3.5% interest rate.

One resident, and business owner, Joyce Omang, told council members that she has always been more than happy to pay taxes in the city, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the assessment was too much right now.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Joyce Omang addresses the Detroit Lakes city council concerning the Washington Avenue city assessment. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Joyce Omang addresses the Detroit Lakes city council concerning the Washington Avenue city assessment. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

"I have not received a paycheck since March," said Omang. "My downtown store is down almost $200,000...I've closed another store and I'm on the verge of closing a second one."

She said she agrees that something should be paid for the assessment, but, in her current financial situation, it's "a little steep."

"Fortunately, right now the interest rates are really low," said Dan Josephson, alderman for Ward 3. "It's one of those things that the policy is there and going into any of these street projects, we know that there are going to be costs and we need to figure out a way to both spread out the burden in the community and the ones that are directly impacted."

Council members also approved rezoning nine different land parcels, updating the city's comprehensive future-land-use plan.

During their meeting on Monday, members of the Community Development Committee said revisiting the city's comprehensive plan periodically would ensure developers always have an up-to-date picture of where future projects can be located.

"We find that periodically we look at (the comprehensive plan) and discover that maybe this area isn't really meant to be high-density, or maybe this is a great spot," said Madalyn Sukke, alderman-at-large. "The best thing we can do is try to stay ahead of the game and put those put those high-density areas where developers can look at it and it doesn't disrupt all of the neighborhoods around them."

The city approved rezoning Terry Street and an area of Cheryl Avenue from high-density residential to low-density residential. Members also approved re-zoning North Tower Road from open space to mixed-use for a possible commercial or residential development.

Zoning map of Detroit Lakes.
Zoning map of Detroit Lakes.

Other changes included:

  • Central Street, north of Detroit Lakes Middle School, from medium-density commercial to high-density residential.
  • The area around Highway 34 and Highland Drive from low-density residential to mixed-use.
  • Highway 10 and County State Aid Highway 54 from low-density residential to high-density residential.

The last regular council meeting of 2020 will be on Tuesday, Dec. 8.