Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
At the March 19 meeting, Gardner council appointed a new parks and recreation director, approved a rezoning for a new subdivision, hired a police officer and authorized $38M in bonds.

Council appointed Gary Williams to the Utility Advisory Commission by an ‘aye’ vote with none opposed.
Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, recommended council appoint Jason Bruce to the position of Parks and Recreation Director.
This is a promotion for Bruce, who started with the city in 2003 as recreation supervisor.
“Recently the city instituted career ladders, and we talked about retention of employees and promotions of current employees and this is an opportunity to promote one of our internal employees,” Harrison-Lee said.
Mark Baldwin, council member, asked if the city would now be hiring to fill the position Bruce is leaving. Harrison-Lee indicated that there would be a review of the department before deciding if that was necessary.

Rezoning for subdivision
Council considered Planning Commission recommendation for approval of rezoning and preliminary development plan for the Cottages at University Park. Developers propose to build a combination of single family homes, duplexes and four-plex residential buildings on 33.6 acres located on the northeast corner of University Drive and Gretna Street.
The proposed project consists of 91 lots and 160 dwelling units with common open space, pedestrian trails, and neighborhood amenities.
“At the time the Land Development Code was adopted in 2016, the city created a new zoning district which we call R-4, and this is the first time this application has been promulgated into a new subdivision. So we’re quite excited about having Planning Commission review it and see the advantage of having this new zoning code come into being for this subdivision,” said Larry Powell, business and economic development director.
The rezoning and preliminary development plan were approved, in a 6-0 vote that included a mayoral vote, via adoption of Ordinance No. 2570.

Gardner Golf Course
In council updates, Ryan Denk, city attorney, told council that the financing for the golf course would be taxable, and not tax exempt. As a result, the annual payment will be around $140,000.
He said the parties had exchanged two rounds of draft versions of operating agreements and things would start moving quickly now.
The goal is to have the irrigation system installed by May for the greens to open in June.

More from this meeting
• Council approved hiring a new police officer.  Officer Adam Taylor received deployment orders from the Departments of the Army and the Air Force for the period from Feb. 28, 2018 to May 11, 2019. This leaves the police department short and requires overtime. Taylor’s position will remain open for him when he returns. The request is for a new officer position.
•Council adopted Ordinance No. 2571 authorizing the city to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB) in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $38,000,000 to pay a portion of the cost of acquiring, constructing and improving a commercial facility within the city; and authorizing execution of certain documents in connection with the issuance of the bonds
• Council adopted Ordinance No. 2572, an ordinance granting to MCImetro Access Transmission Services Corporation d/b/a Verizon Access Transmission Services, a Delaware Corporation, a contract franchise to construct, operate and maintain a telecommunications system in Gardner.
• Council received positive feedback during public comments from Steve Hale, who thanked council for investing in the golf course.
• In council updates, Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, asked council for direction on how to proceed on an electrical project that has been delayed due to a property owner refusing to agree to easement rights for overhead power lines. Negotiation has failed. The city deems this a critical infrastructure project and will start taking steps towards condemnation. A resolution will be prepared and presented at an upcoming meeting.