Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Sioux Falls ODDS & ENDS

After listening to the podcast version of Mayor Huether’s interview on Belfrage’s show yesterday, I noticed that the mayor said some interesting ‘OTHER’ things.

When he was talking about the snow plow issue he mentioned that the city doesn’t want to become ‘lawsuit happy’. I about chocked on my water. This is a guy who is having his attorney’s office criminally charge and arrest people for storing building materials in their yard. I would have to say the city is VERY lawsuit happy.

He then talks about how the Events Center has had ‘record sales’ since it has opened. Huh? How do you break record when there is no record to break. While I think it is great the place (mostly contractors and promoters) are making money, I think saying we are breaking records is a little far-fetched. Beating projections would be a more honest statement.

He also mentions the city has big plans for Van Eps Park now that it is a dry park, but he didn’t expand, just told listeners to be watching for them next year. I heard he is erecting a large Coca-Cola bottle in the park with a crucifix floating inside.

Lastly, once again he can’t resist taking credit for snow gate implementation. Mike, the voters of Sioux Falls implemented snow gates, not you, get over yourself. He also mentions that snow gates may not always be used depending on the snowfall, around that 6-10” range. As I understand it, if we get a heavy wet snow, they don’t work well, and it would probably be wise NOT to use them. But if it is a normal dry light snow, they can be used up to 20-30”. I also heard not only will they not be used on emergency snow routes, that the secondary routes may be ignored to.


I noticed in the Sioux Falls Business Journal a blurb about Lloyd Companies and Hegg teaming up to build a $45 million dollar apartment complex in Minot, ND in the Bakken Region. Surprise! Surprise! I wonder who will be investing with them and if they got any TIFs?

Arc of Dreams

I see the Arc of Dreams has raised $480,000 so far which is great! I hope they fund this project totally privately, and pass their fundraising skills on to the mayor’s wife so she can pay for own damn indoor tennis center.

As I understand it the project is being built on private land. But I found it a little strange that they have already hit half their fundraising goal and haven’t approached the Planning Commission or the CORP of Engineers for permission to build. As I understand from an engineering standpoint, the counter balance in the ground will have to be enormous. I will be shocked if 1) They can build this for $900K and 2) that they don’t ask tax payers to contribute. Stay tuned. The two guys heading up this project are behind BibleWalk, uh I mean SculptureWalk downtown, I expect them to be extending their hands at a council meeting very soon.

Arterial Road Funding to be discussed Tuesday at SF City Council Informational meeting


I think this graphic pretty much says it all

City councilor Kenny Anderson Jr. Plans to discuss proposed changes to arterial street funding. Anderson and Public Works Director Mark Cotter will be making a joint presentation.

This of course all stems from the 6 year anniversary (2008) of raising the 2nd penny tax to a full penny after developers and city administrators made false promises to the city council in order for the tax increase. The developers haven’t even came within striking distance of their promised 60% input. The entire tax increase was based entirely on lies and a failing economy that was evident at the time of the increase.

One proposal would be to keep the tax increase in place and simply ONLY match developers platting fees for arterial road expansion. Any additional money from the tax increase would go towards existing road maintenance, not expansion.

Why is the city planning to divert federal housing rehabilitation money into a youth center?

Why is Community Development diverting $10,000 (federal dollars) from the Single Family Housing Rehab Program to a non-profit?

As I understand it the VOA (Volunteers of America) are good at securing free government grant money.  Why would the City agree to give them $10,000 (or is it $35,000–see below) especially since there is such a high demand for housing rehab dollars?

The following public notice is on the homepage of siouxfalls.org

Public Notice

This notice provides the public an opportunity to examine and comment on proposed Amendment #4 to the 2014 Action Plan for the City of Sioux Falls for a period of 30 days. Low- and moderate-income persons, racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speaking persons, and persons with disabilities are specifically encouraged to examine the proposed amendment. The Action Plan is part of the City’s Consolidated Plan. It identifies specific activities to be undertaken with the use of federal funding from both the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) program. Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed amendment should do so in writing and send the same to Community Development, 235 West 10th Street, PO Box 7402, Sioux Falls, SD, 57117-7402. Written comments must include the name and address of the individual submitting the comment. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on November 10, 2014.

Project 503-302. Additional CDBG funding of $10,000 will be provided Volunteers of America, Dakotas for Bowden Center Improvements for a revised allocation of $35,000. The center is located at 430 West 11th Street. Improvements will be made to the center’s outdoor recreation space. Bowden Youth Center offers education and creative opportunities in a safe, supportive environment as well as recreational activities. The funds will be provided as a no-interest deferred loan. Total estimated project cost is $62,200. The additional CDBG funding will be reallocated from the Single-Family Housing Rehabilitation program.

I am all for the city gifting money from the CIP to help with this project but instead we are diverting Federal money set aside for housing rehabilitation. That is what the Federal money gives it to us for, not playgrounds.

Something smells fishy here.

Was the mayor’s trip to Williston, ND official business?

Many people have been asking what the purpose of the mayor’s trip to Williston, ND? Did he do this out of the kindness of his heart to help out a fellow Dakota city? Maybe.

But then I saw this story on Stormland TV, and it got my wheels turning;

Williston Development Director, Tom Rolfstad, says there’s a lot to be learned from Sioux Falls. One of the biggest issues he’s noticed back home, is keeping up with a continual flow of new workers coming to town.

“We’re finding the people, but it’s finding the housing for the people. to grow your whole community as fast as it is coming is the struggle,” Rolfstad said.

That’s something Craig Lloyd of Lloyd Companies knows a thing or two about. Lloyd helped show-off some of the ways Sioux Falls has grown and improved, including the downtown area.

So under the guise of ‘helping out’ and ‘advice’ Mr. Lloyd and Mayor Huether claim they are doing this as a ‘learning’ experience. Okay, I will play along.

Remember something, Lloyd has taken advantage of TIF’s and affordable housing grants in Sioux Falls greatly to build housing in Sioux Falls. Also remember that the Mayor and his ‘beautiful bride’ Cindy have invested in housing projects in Sioux Falls. And one more thing, there are already developers from the Sioux Falls area developing in North Dakota.

So I ask the question, are Lloyd and Huether helping out a fellow ‘Boomtown’ out of the goodness of their hearts OR are their hearts attached to their wallets?

Would be interesting to see who is taking out building permits in Williston for housing.

SF City Council Informational Meeting 10/7/12

So now Dean just proposes ordinances without talking to the rest of the council, just the homebuilders association?

While this is a great debate to have, I think the issue isn’t the building permits,

1) There was a bad hailstorm

2) Building services has one speed (very slow) and can’t keep up

3) Dean is trying to look important (again)

At the end of the day, this will probably fail, building services and contractors will catch up, and the head of the department can go back to having a beer at Monk’s at 5:05 each weekday.

YouTube Preview Image

Another wealthy developer and land owner in SF looking for a handout?

So the Friessen family has owned the Lake Lorraine property for over 35 years and has kept it a very PRIVATE place. A 22 acre lake that the public was strictly not allowed to use. But that all may change, with the help of your tax dollars of course;

Developers are hoping to form a public/private partnership with the city of Sioux Falls to maintain and program the park and train system around the lake.  They’re visiting similar communities in Minneapolis to see how it’s been done there.

“We’re also exploring opportunities with the city’s Live Well program, which the city is promoting right now and they’d like to make this the pilot program,” Van Buskirk said.

This is the first I have heard of this proposal, but like most plans the Parks and Planning department makes, they keep it top secret until they can spring it on the uninformed council. I see they have even used our tax dollars already going to Minneapolis doing ‘research’.

Don’t get me wrong, I think having a public lake in the center of the city is a great idea, in fact I have suggested that Spellerberg be turned into a natural filtration pool. And a trail around the lake would be great. But how is this going to work? Are the Friessens going to give the lake to the city? Will they cease paying property taxes on 22 acres of water? How much will it cost taxpayers to maintain this lake? Remember the Soukup family’s ‘gift’ a few years ago?

This private development will do very well for itself, I think they should maintain the lake themselves and continue to pay the taxes on it. If they want to open it to the public, great, but I think the city needs to get out of the business of taking these supposed ‘gifts’.

Besides, if the family chooses to maintain the lake themselves, they can profit from having different rental activities on the lake.

The proposed Southside Walmart has only one access, and no plans for more


There has been plenty of talk about the traffic studies by the proposed SS Walmart before the election, but the facts about access to the retailer were murky. A resident in the SON neighborhood recently spoke with a regional engineer (RE) with the SD DOT, here were the results of there teleconference;

Widening Highway 115 is rescheduled to 2017; this is due to not getting it approved by the state for 2015. The City was going to work on Cliff Ave and the State thought they should wait with the widening project. For 2016, any projects approved and scheduled prior to the last budget were funded, Highway 115 was not. So 2017 seemed the most appropriate time to do the work.

In July 2014, state-wide STIP meetings, to plan projects by DOT were held. They were open to the public (not sure where, probably Mitchell or Pierre) for statewide projects.  Aug to Sept will be the Transportation Commissioners’ meeting to approve projects for 2017. I’m not sure if we could get to communicate with this Board or not.  Usually approved once projects get this far.

One item for SD Highway 115 widening is the right of way. The RE said needs to be sorted through to get them right.

I also told him that 85th from Cliff to Highway 115 had not been asphalted this year as the City had planned. The purpose of this was mostly to provide the detour for Highway 115 widening.

According to The RE, the City is planning to hire a private developer to fix Twin Eagles pond. We had discussed how it floods at least once a year and how the rise in the water table has occurred; how the water keeps recycling through the sump pumps and sits saturated on the south side of 85th. Apparently, the City drainage engineers are trying to see if they can redirect some of the drainage to Heatheridge, as they are draining too much down Mustang and Grange).

The City will supposedly place a retention pond near Highway 100 and one farther south to County Rd 106 just west of Highway 115 (this area was a lake in June 2014). I asked if he knew about the other developments behind Jeff G.’s property and also about the road that more than likely will be put in over to Western Ave.  He was not aware of this.

The State most likely will not be able to tell the City what to do for engineering of drainage. The state will try to do all the highways with 100-year flood levels. I asked if they are redefining those since we are getting them every 2 years, they aren’t. They will also not do drainage studies from the existing areas and new areas and will rely on Sioux Falls.

He was aware of the building issue at 85th and Minn. and the court action pending that is pending. The State is planning to put signal lights at that intersection.  The City is responsible to build out 85th to the 4 lanes at least up to the entrance to the retail development.

So, it looks like the development will have only one intersection in and out until 2017 and will not have the right in/right out on Minnesota. I asked about why the 1/4 mile could not be allowed and maybe push Highway 100 south a bit; he said it would impact the environmental reviews that had just been approved. I don’t think they want to rework the routing. He thing that there will be no more instances of turning over control to the city (like north of 85th).

I’m sure the little driveway approach that is closer to Minn. on 85th on the south side will probably be the construction access.

For the part of Highway 100 that will be NE from Menards north to I90, this will be in 2018.  This will happen before the South will be done. DOT people should have public meetings to show the plans for this road and the bridge over I-90 to Cty121.

The South part will not be started until after 2018. They will be working on designs and right of way purchases. It could be that the DOT may have some shared responsibility with the City on the retention ponds. DOT does not usually deal with retention ponds, but appears they might this time. He thought the City of Sioux Falls would push its southern boundaries to County Rd 106/Highway 115 area.

I asked him how much of WM’s traffic study report from Kimberly Horn DOT had read as WM’s opening day depends on certain roads and traffic signals being completed. That report failed even with the RIRO on Highway 115 and the widening project done. He said that some of the other engineers have reviewed it and that is why they are putting in the traffic signal at the Minn. and 85th intersection.  It seems they will not supersede the city on that.

I’m sure they learned from the Hwy11 disaster. I think they slowed down due to the loss of the Shindler Lawsuit.

Let’s hope they have the access where it was to be on 85th (300 ft east), and not all the way to Audie.  This would also help the Charis corner development across the street.


City Government Time Machine; Platting Fee Boondoggle, 9/15/08

Last night at the regular city council meeting a citizen brought up the failure of the platting fee idea to raise money for arterial roads, and he ultimately said ‘It should be repealed’.

I couldn’t agree more, it has been a complete failure, the plan that is.

In reality when the plan was proposed on September 15, 2008 (watch the meeting here).

It may have sounded good. It was simple, they would raise the 2nd penny tax to a full penny to help pay for arterial roads. The second part of the plan was what made it attractive. While raising the penny would help pay for 40% of the arterial roads, the developers would chip in 60% in platting fees.

That HAS not occurred. In fact they haven’t even come close to probably 4-5%. And while over the past 6 years the citizen taxpayers were putting in their share, the developers have contributed very little. Heck even a few years ago, a developer complained at a council meeting that the city wasn’t holding up their end of the deal by not building enough arterial roads like they promised. This developer was told, and rightly so, once the developers hold up their part of the deal the city would chip in.

When ever this is brought up (the terms we were sold) the developers have all kinds of excuses;

• The economy took a dump

(at the meeting that night, one proponent brought up the economy tanking, in fact that day, the dow dropped a record amount. The economy downturn was ALL over the news, but somehow SF developers thought they were immune. Ask them today about that immunity)

• They claimed they never said they would put in 60%

(over the past six years I have heard this LIE. Repeatedly during the above meeting the proponents said over and over again they would put in 60%. There was even a taxpayer funded website the city put up called movingsiouxfallsforward.org that claimed this amount.

• Public Works Director, Mark Cotter even repeated the plan

(He told Staggers in the meeting (1:06) that the plan was that the CIP would put in $35 million, the 2nd penny raise would put in $20 million and the developers would put in $30 million over the following 6 years. That has not even been a reality, not even close.

• As one opponent points out during testimony, there was nothing in the proposal to ‘legally bind’ the developers to put in what they promised. Nothing.

• And now that the economy has turned around and building is booming in Sioux Falls, will developers give us back pay on these platting fees to at least match what taxpayers had to put in (during an economic downturn) Of course not, just more excuses.

• The vote went down 4-4 with Munson breaking the tie and voting for the increase. Councilors Staggers, Costello, Beninga, Anderson voted against the increase and Councilors Brown, Knudson, Litz and Jamison voted for the increase.

• Even though this plan did fail, and the developers haven’t put their fair share in over the last 6 years, it hasn’t stunted growth at all. Why? Because once again, the taxpayers of SF have been bailing out the developers.

Some ‘Other’ highlights of the meeting;

• Mayor Munson gaveling me at the beginning of the meeting during public testimony when I made the accusation that the ethics commission were puppets for the administration. After he chews me out and tells me they are independent, I asked him, “But you appointed them? Correct?” He answered yes.

• Vernon Brown flipped his vote. When this first came up months earlier, Vern voted against it, this night he voted for it.

• Kermit points out that they weren’t following the proper state law to pass the platting fees (taxes) and should not even been voting on it.

• All the Proponents got to go first to testify, while the opponents had to wait almost 2 1/2 hours, instead of alternating speakers.

• Another funny moment was when Bill Peterson told Staggers that people weren’t flocking to move to Minot, ND to live anytime soon.


My KELO interview a year after the tax increase

DaCola Links

Sometimes the City Council gets it right . . . sometimes

As I have watched this city government over the years, I often get suspicious when they do the exact opposite of what they normally do (Item #31). Usually they rubberstamp developer plans and kind of thumb their noses at individual property owners. Last night they took a left turn, denying a new development;

After being deferred twice over the summer, a proposed 17-lot development is receiving scrutiny after neighbors just to the south feel that they’ve been misled about what would be done near their homes.

“I’m a little confused because I thought the reason this got deferred twice was that Mr. Cooper was working on a solution for our questions and concerns, but I haven’t seen that so far,” homeowner Todd Miller said.

The Canterbury Heights neighborhood has one main road that is used as an entrance and an exit, which both homeowners and city council members see as a major safety concern.

“All of you guys are nice guys and you work really hard and you do great things for the city, but I am so disappointed for how these people have been treated, I can hardly say,” council member Michelle Erpenbach said.

“It’s unfortunate, these homeowners have had to live in a half-developed development, and they’re going to have to stay that way until many years,” council member Greg Jamison said.

On a vote of 1 to 7, the new development was rejected. Neighbors and city council members hope to work together to make sure an additional major access road is added. At that point, the additional development would likely be submitted again.

First off, who is Erpenbach talking about? The developers or the city staff? Probably both. It seems the planning department tried to pull another fast one and ramrod a project through without due diligence, they even roped a city fire marshal into going along with it. No doubt, the council was right to deny this development until the roads are completed to the existing development. A two track dirt road doesn’t count as an access road, in my opinion, only an emergency escape, when maintained.

But there are some factors to consider, and maybe why Staggers voted for the project. As I have said in the past, when you build your home on the edge of the city’s boonies, you can’t expect all the amentities that go with it, no matter what you have been told by the builder. But the existing development was promised finished roads. Here lies the problem. What incentive does the developer have to finish these roads? Will they finish them simply so they can move forward with the new development? Maybe, but that’s a gamble. I believe the city council’s denial only set the taxpayers of Sioux Falls up to finish the roads out there. This could have been solved before it got this far. The Planning Department and Planning Commission could have required the builder to finish roads while building the new development as a stipulation/package. As far as I can tell, that didn’t happen. Maybe I am completely wrong (and often I am) but I think this denial is only going to cost the rest of us, not the developer. Sometimes I feel sorry for the city council, because they are often given very little information before a vote, and when they do vote, it is too late to fix the initial problems with the planned development. We can partially blame the mayor’s office and the departments he manages, but the council should have a little personal responsibility in this by researching these projects before they vote.

Lately I have been watching the Minnehaha County Commission meetings, they operate much differently than the city council. When they need answers they drag the department heads in front of them and ask them. If they don’t have the answers, they defer projects until those departments give them answers. The city council should have done the same, and maybe some of them did, and were misled by city directors hell bent on protecting their own asses and jobs and doing what the boss tells them to do.

This is no way to legislate a city, and last night was proof of it. When government is transparent in their processes everyone leaves happy, the winners and losers, sometimes.

TIF rebate well spent


Looks like the reviews are not the only thing falling to pieces at the new Hilton.

I searched our local news to see if anyone was covering this story, and found nothing. Not saying that none of them covered it, but it seems to be off the radar screen like a KDLT weather forecast.

The retaining wall at the Hilton fell over. There are many reasons this could have happened. I am not a landscaper, but one told me it could be a combination of bad backfill, improper stones and placement and probably heavy rains, either way, it failed, and it is only a year old. Thank goodness no one was on the bike trail when it happened.

This property received a TIF, and a bulkhead subsidy from the city and this is how that money is being spent, on shoddy work.

This is what happens when growth is too fast and not well managed. I am all for progression in our city, but it must be done right and well thought out.