Hastings City Council members held a second reading and approved a new ordinance amendment pertaining to apartments in historic structures.

“Within the historic portions of Hastings — the older portions essentially, the single- and two-family area between Pine Street, the railroad tracks, the river down to Tenth Street. These areas of town we have the possibility of having additional apartment units beyond what is allowed within the zoning presently,” said Community Development Director John Hinzman. “These would be based upon larger buildings themselves.”

Current zoning requirements only allow for two units within these larger buildings that puts a strain on those properties, according to Hinzman.

"The maintenance and salability diminish over time as a result because there’s only a certain amount of value that one can get out of them," Hinzman said.

“So this has led to those types of buildings being looked at for other types of uses that may not be as suitable for the neighborhood,” HInzman said. “… So we took a look at what we could potentially do with the situation. What we came up with was to propose an ordinance amendment in which there could be additional residential density for historic homes within the R2 district.”

According to the ordinance, the facility would need to be part of a formally designated state, local or national historic structure. The units would need to be inside the structure itself. The building would need to be at least 4,000 square feet, and the lots would need to have at least 9,000 square feet.

Electric fleet vehicles

Administrative Services Director Julie Flaten discussed the results of a study the city participated in on potential cost savings associated with switching to electric fleet vehicles.

“To gather the needed data, telemetric tracking devices were added to 20 vehicles across our fleet,” Flaten said. “… So over the course of six months these devices tracked data on daily miles driven, fuel economy, engine hours, idling time and average miles per hour. At the end the study proposed switching four vehicles to electric cars can have a positive financial and environmental impact.”

The total cost of ownership savings over 10 years would be over $32,000 and could reduce emissions by 18% and reduce fuel usage by over 1,200 gallons, according to Flaten. While there were no electric vehicles included in the 2020 budget, Flaten added that there was a good chance it would be included in future budgets.

Council member Tina Folch encouraged the council members to purchase electric vehicles in the future should the opportunity present itself.

“It’s predicted that by 2040 we will have half of the light-duty fleet within the city will be electric, and it is a huge goal to help bring down carbon emissions as we begin to convert our vehicles to renewable energy,” she said.

Council member Mark Vaughan recommended a city council workshop discussion on the matter at a later date.