SUTHERLAND—New single-family housing is mounting in Sutherland after discussion of two city-owned properties at the monthly council meeting on Feb. 1.
The Sutherland Economic Development Board highlighted potential construction sites at the old football field and the farmland previously owned by the late Joan Williams. The projects still are being conceived, but the board is eager to start work on the new homes to help alleviate the housing shortage for the community of about 590.
“We got a lot of empty lots in this town all over the place,” said board member Doug Sweeney. “Anybody who says we don’t have room for houses is crazy.”
Sweeney, also of Sweeney Construction Co., led the board’s presentation to the council. He said he wants to start the process soon to finish at least one home by the end of the year and to get the word out that the lots are for sale.
“We want to try to get some affordable housing in town,” Sweeney said. “These young couples — they don’t want to buy an old house and spend $100,000 fixing it up — they want a new house that they can move into and raise a family in.”
He said he wants to sell the future houses for $250,000-$280,000, in keeping with bank guidelines.
City clerk Amanda Vanderhoff said the city will need to plot the properties and publish information on lot sales before further action is taken.
“We’ll put them on the economic development website,” she said. “We’re going to want to let everyone know we have lots for sale, and the next thing will be what we sell the lot for.”
Sweeney said financing street construction will be a roadblock in the project’s path. He suggested adjusting other public property to add room in the budget.
“I don’t think it’s feasible for the city to spend that kind of money just to get halfway up” the street, the developer said. “I don’t know where we would find that kind of money.”
Board president Sharon Flinders noted that it still is early in the project timeline, but said she is excited to move forward.
“This entire project is so infantile, it might not have even been born yet,” Flinders said.
She went on to say that the developments should “cost the city not much of anything,” and that tax revenue would more than cover the cost of plotting properties into individual lots.
“We have some empty lots. We just need someone to develop them,” Flinders said. “It would be silly not to get together to build.”
The Williams property is of specific interest to the city, according to Vanderhoff. It was unofficially earmarked for residential use and bequeathed to the city when Williams died in 2016.
“She wanted to remember where she came from,” said Chuck Kummerfeld, a Sutherland resident who was involved in the decision to donate the land. “She was really generous when she passed away. She was quite a lady.”
Sweeney said plotting would likely happen in early spring. Vanderhoff said she will bring information to the next meeting for the council to decide specifics on lot plotting and pricing.
“We’ll bring you a rough draft with how we think you’ll want to proceed with it,” Vanderhoff said to the council. “We’ll let you guys decide that in March.”
This story was originally published in the Feb. 6 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.