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Lennox Council takes closer look at recent housing study

Lennox City Council held their final regular meeting for November the week of Thanksgiving.

Item C in New Business, Ordinance 603 was removed from the agenda, this was a Fiscal Year Budget Supplement. No visitors were there to be heard. Council approved the agenda, minutes and claims as presented.

Under the reports, City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats updated the council on the Lincoln County planning and zoning meeting held earlier in November. At that meeting the County planning and zoning commission tabled the TIF for Lennox. Vander Plaats said he will continue to press ahead and meet with those that want to learn more about it.

The next meeting for the Lincoln County planing and zoning will be the third week in December. There will be an article about the proposed TIF district in an upcoming newspaper.

In other reports, Lennox Librarian Audrea Buller was not able to be present, so Vander Plaats read the report she had for the council. Her report stated that the library story time is going very well.

Water Superintendent Jeremy Gulbranson was gone this week. Vander Plaats reported that the streets department is preparing for snow and ice in the upcoming months. Weather permitting, pot holes can still be filled with cold patching. Vander Plaats also stated that the water and sewer side had some issues with sump pumps into the street but city staff is working with residents to have them moved.

Lennox Police Chief Will Ericksen gave his report. He stated that the police had 177 calls for October. November has been a bit slower with 98 calls so far. He said that the Department’s new software is up and running. They have had a few problems with the e-citations but are working them out. The Department has been testing out body cameras, he stated they are an asset to the department. Ericksen said he reached out to the school to get the bike rodeo going again. He hopes to be able to bring that back with help from the school and city.

Under the Ambulance report, Director Alan Perry, gave details on the EMT conference that was held in Aberdeen. Seven from the ambulance crew went to the conference. Perry also is hopeful that an EMT class will be held in Lennox this spring.

With reports approved, council moved on to old business. The Park and Recreation Policies and Procedures was approved as presented.

Under new business council heard from another engineering firm about the services they provide. Chad Hanisch and Phil Gundvaldson with Infrastructure Design Group, Inc. spoke to the council.

Council then heard more about the 2019 City of Lennox Housing Study. The final housing study was presented to the City Administrator and Executive Director of the Lennox Housing Authority in September.

Steve Griesert with Community Partners Research walked the council through the updated housing study, previously done in 2015.

Vander Plaats noted in a memo to the council that his only concern with regard to the study is that not all contacts were reached for input (for example, it appears as though Long Creek Park was not contacted for information in the course of the study).

His memo stated that, “While casting a wider net is desired, I am confident that this study incorporates sufficient information and data to make the assumptions and projections contained within the report.”

The housing study was presented to the Council on how the information was obtained and what attracted people to a location. The entire 96 page document can be found online at under this story.

Some highlights from the report include:

• Applied Geographic Solutions (AGS) estimates that Lennox gained 327 people from 2010 to 2019, which is a gain of 15.5%. Esri, a private reporting service, estimates the population in Lennox at 2,528 people in 2019, a gain of 417 people (19.8%).

• Both AGS and Esri show projected population gains from 2019 to 2024 for the City of Lennox and Lincoln County. AGS projects a gain of 473 people in Lennox from 2019 to 2024, which is an average increase of approximately 95 people annually. Esri expects that the City of Lennox will add 301 residents over this five-year period, or an annual average of approximately 60 people per year.

• AGS’ 2019 household estimate for Lennox is 930 households, an increase of 88 households from the 2010 Census. Esri’s 2019 estimate for Lennox households is 1,024, a gain of 182 households since the 2010 Census.

• AGS projects that Lennox will add 112 households from 2019 to 2024. Over the five-year period, average annual growth would be approximately 22 households per year. Esri estimates that Lennox will add 128 households from 2019 to 2024, which is an average growth of 26 households annually.

• According to income estimates contained in the 2017 American Community Survey, approximately 33% of Lennox households have an annual income under $35,000, 39% have an annual income between $35,000 and $74,999 and approximately 28% of Lennox households have an annual income over $75,000.

• Recent home sales in Lennox have been widely distributed in different price ranges. Approximately 41% of the sales in 2018 were priced below $100,000. Nearly 32% of sales were priced between $100,000 and $175,000. Approximately 25% of home sales were for $175,000 or more.

• Over the past 20 years, 146 new housing units have been constructed in Lennox, based on building permit issuance information from the City of Lennox and U.S. Census information. Of the total units, 104 are single family homes and 42 units are in multi-family projects. Much of the new construction occurred between 2000 and 2008. During this nine-year period, the City averaged approximately 11 new housing units per year. From 2009 to 2014, housing construction activity slowed, and the City has averaged approximately two new units per year. However, in 2014 six new houses were constructed in Lennox. From 2015 to September 2019, 30 single family houses, a duplex and a 4-plex have been constructed or moved into Lennox. This is an average of six new housing units annually.

Griesert said that Housing, People and Jobs all go together, and that “For a community your size you have some nice industry.”

He also said, “The more available lots you have, the more options there are.”

A list of 21 recommendations were provided in the following five categories: Rental Housing Development, Home Ownership, Single Family Housing Development, Housing Rehabilitation, and Other Housing Issues.

The housing study was accepted by the council.

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