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Duluth city council update

Council approves change for hotel What happened: Despite the objection of a homeowner, the City Council unanimously approved a zoning change from residential to commercial that will allow an extended-stay hotel and restaurant to move into an open...

Council approves change for hotel

What happened: Despite the objection of a homeowner, the City Council unanimously approved a zoning change from residential to commercial that will allow an extended-stay hotel and restaurant to move into an open area on Central Entrance near the Midas Service Center and Cub Foods.

Why it's important: Duluth City Councilor Jim Stauber, who recommended passage of the zoning change, said the hotel/restaurant will add $30,000 a year in tax revenue for the city.

What's next: The name of the business and the dates for construction have not been announced.

Rental rule moratorium rejected

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What happened: The council voted down Councilor Jim Stauber's proposed 30-day moratorium on illegal rentals, which would have grandfathered in landlords who rented out rooms or homes illegally before an ordinance went into effect last year that banned new rental licenses within 300 feet of existing rentals.

What it means: The controversy over the 300-foot ordinance isn't over, with Councilor Jeff's Anderson's proposal to totally repeal it being sent to the city Planning Commission for discussion. The Council probably will vote on that measure in two weeks.

How they voted: For -- Todd Fedora, Jay Fosle and Stauber; against -- Jeff Anderson, Tony Cuneo, Sharla Gardner, Greg Gilbert, Garry Krause and Roger Reinert.

Council rejects change in housing fund

What happened: A divided council rejected Councilor Todd Fedora's proposed ordinance requiring any organization that borrows money out of the Housing Investment Fund -- used to develop or repair low-income housing -- to pay that money back in monthly installments over the 30-year life of the loan and pay back at least 75 percent of whatever the prime rate is at the time the loan is signed. Currently, borrowers have a zero percent interest rate.

What it means: Opponents of Fedora's proposal said it would essentially kill the HIF and that without city money, many projects would not happen and low-income families trying to afford a home won't be able to do so. Critics of the fund say the city money should instead go to infrastructure, and Fedora said the goal of his ordinance was to have the city be more fiscally responsible.

How they voted: Against -- Jeff Anderson, Tony Cuneo, Sharla Gardner, Greg Gilbert and Roger Reinert; for -- Fedora, Jay Fosle, Garry Krause, Jim Stauber.

Revised Heritage agreement approved

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What they did: Despite frustration by several councilors that they weren't warned sooner of the contract changes, councilors voted 7-2 to approve a revised, slightly longer timeline for completion of the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.

The deal also shifted when the city will pay its share for renting the facilities. Some frustrated councilors said the revised agreement essentially forced them to trust that the rest of the financing for the project will come through. Officials working on the center assured them that it will be built as planned.

Earlier in the evening, councilors decided to delay a vote to get more information, but because it would cause problems with a loan deal on Wednesday, councilors brought the issue up at the end of the meeting and decided to vote. Only councilors Roger Reinert and Jeff Anderson voted "no."

What it means: The 1,400-foot ice arena will be ready April 15. The original scheduled opening date was Dec. 28, 2007.

The rest of the center, which includes locker rooms, game rooms, concessions, computer labs and classrooms for the Boys & Girls Club, tennis and basketball courts, and a part-time hockey arena, still is set to be completed by the original opening time at the end of October.

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