The Spring Grove City Council held a special meeting on March 2 to review the city’s comprehensive plan along with its capital improvement plan.

Mayor Sarah Schroeder opened the discussion saying that housing is an issue that often comes up in her daily conversations around town.

She explained the last housing study was conducted by Houston County in 2009.

“A lot of it is not representative of what Spring Grove is today,” Schroeder added, pointing out the 2009 data was based heavily on the needs of elderly.

“Those needs are definitely still important. I just feel like it’s neglecting the housing needs for younger generations.”

“If you look at the type of person who is moving back home from the (Twin) Cities to Spring Grove, they want a big house and big lot,” added councilor Scott Solberg.

EDA director Courtney Bergey said she and co-director Ryan Yetzer recently drove around the city to conduct an informal inventory of open lots.

“We counted about 14 empty lots,” Bergey noted. “Some of them were very small.”

Public Works director Paul Morken said just because lots are empty doesn’t always mean they’re available. He explained that some vacant lots serve as buffer zones for homeowners who’ve purchased neighboring property to prevent additional building.

Schroeder said an updated housing study would be helpful for planning purposes. She asked Bergey if the county would be conducting another study in the near future? Bergey said she would look into it, noting that the studies are not cheap.

Related to housing, Solberg said there are a lot of people who are able to work from home due to the community’s investments in technology-related infrastructure.

He added the city and EDA could consider marketing Spring Grove as a great place to telecommute.

As for capital improvements needed by the city, Morken said that the water tower near city hall needs to be replaced soon.

He explained that the bottom of the 1928 structure has had to be repaired several times in recent years.

Morken added the most recent cost estimate for the project was received six years ago, and it was approximately $700,000.

“The new 150,000-gallon tower would stand in the same place,” Morken stated. “It would be sphere-shaped like the city’s other water tower near Northern Engraving.”

Morken also expressed interest in installing water meters that could be read remotely. That project, he said, would cost the city about $300,000.

Proposed improvements to the wastewater treatment plant were also discussed along with several street projects – including some much-needed sidewalk repairs.

“It’s been a long time since sidewalks have been inspected,” Solberg said.

Schroeder suggested that council members compile a list of sidewalk-related problems prior to its regular March meeting.