On their annual road inspection, the supervisors of Paynesville Township noticed about a dozen violations in the township, ranging from unlicensed vehicles to improper storage of motor homes and boats. Since then, the list is growing and now the township expects to contact around 25 property owners who are in violation of the township ordinance.
At their meeting on Monday, May 8, the board discussed again about how best to contact the respective owners and work cooperatively with them. For now, Don Wiese, township clerk, will be writing a letter to the property owners explaining the township's ordinance and asking the property owner to correct their violation.
"I think a lot of people don't know they're in violation," said board chairman Don Pietsch. "I've always had better luck asking people (to do something) than telling them."
For example, the township supervisors noticed a number of unlicensed cars during the road inspection. Unlicensed cars are not allowed in driveways or in groves in the township, according to the ordinance. Either cars should be licensed, or they should be disposed of properly.
As a matter of fact, except for construction items in use and certain agriculture machinery, most materials need to be stored indoors, according to the ordinance. Agricultural equipment must be stored within a one-acre lot.
Another common violation for which the township will be notifying homeowners is the improper storage of motor homes, boats, and trailers. The ordinance requires that these be stored at least 10 feet off the property line and in the side or back of the house, not in the front yard.
Actually, motor homes, boats, and trailers must be less than 35 feet to be stored legally outside at all at a residence. And motor homes may not be used as a second residence. The ordinance does allow motor homes to be set up and used by guests for up to 90 days a year, but not by the property owners themselves.
The township also is checking on the status of conditional use permits issued in the past couple years. In many cases, the board of supervisors granted a permit but attached conditions, and now the township will be checking to see if those conditions have been met.
For instance, a building permit for a new garage may have been issued on condition that the old lean-to be removed. The township now plans to check to see if the lean-to has subsequently been removed.
The board set two public hearings for Monday, June 12.
A public hearing on County Road 124 will be held at 8:15 p.m. at the township office on the south side of the Koronis Civic Arena. Access to the parking lot is on Kornois Drive.
Previously, the township held a hearing in November on acquiring County Road 124 but received little input. Now, with a draft agreement with the county in place, the township needs to hear from its residents before considering adoption of the agreement.
The current proposal includes a $392,000 lump sum payment from the county to the township to cover rebuilding the road and a couple years of maintenance. The draft agreement would also need to be approved by the county commissioners.
After hearing a trail update from Jeff Bertram, supervisor John Atwood wondered if the township was going too fast in agreeing to take over County Road 124.
Bertram, a former state representative for the area, said he has arranged meetings with highway departments and searched for grants. Bertram felt progress is being made, but it is still organizational. He doesn't expect any construction to start this year.
Since the trail along County Road 124 was the main reason the township and county decided that the township should control the road, Atwood questioned if it was necessary to move ahead in acquiring the road. The county didn't want to separate the trail from the road surface, which, for safety reasons, the township wanted.
Bertram said again that it is possible for the county to return the road without funding, and his opinion was the township would be foolish not to take the $392,000 while it could. Cory Meagher, a township resident in attendance, wondered when the county had last returned a road to a township without compensation.
The second public hearing, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. the same night, is meant to discuss whether three additional township roads should be designated as rustic roads. The roads under consideration are Cross Creek Road, 283rd Avenue, and Cedardale Road.
Bertram also presented a proposal from West Central Sanitation for recycling in Paynesville Township. Bertram stressed that the program would be voluntary, not compulsory, and contrary to rumors would cost less than $2 per month. For $1.75, West Central Sanitation would collect recyclables every other week.
West Central Sanitation would like an exclusivity agreement with the township, meaning it would be the only hauler in the township. It currently is already, according to Bertram. West Central would do all the billing, and be at risk if not enough residents signed up to make it financially rewarding.
The township could use its SCORE funds for purchasing recycling bins for participating residents, Bertram suggested.
Conflict of interest
Towards the end of the township meeting, a proposal to have a work-order sheet to organize maintenance work led to further criticism of supervisor Warren Nehring about conflict of interest.
Atwood started the charges by complaining that Gabrielson Excavating had been hired without his approval. He said every decision should be made by the board.
Pietsch defended the decision to hire Gabrielson to pick rocks along the roads in the township. All three supervisors agreed that the rocks needed to be removed during the road inspection last month. When a Sentence to Serve crew from the county was unavailable to pick the rocks, Pietsch called Gabrielson for a quote and had them do the work. Atwood was unavailable at the time, but informed later of the decision.
Nehring said that Atwood's desire to vote on every item was micromanagement and wondered how many special meetings would be needed to vote on all the township decisions. He said micromanagement would cost the township.
Brian Jones of Paynesville Excavating attended the meeting out of concern because he had heard rumors that Paynesville Excavating had given a bid the previous month, which, to his knowledge, it hadn't. Jones said they were happy to give quotes and had hauled fill for the township on a number of occasions in the last year.
Jones also noted that Paynesville Excavating never moved the fill, and Pietsch admitted that the township had frequently hired Nehring to do this.
In the end, the supervisors and Jones agreed that it would be helpful to get some standing quotes from various companies. That way, when the township has a job, it could start by calling the low bidder and keep calling until it finds someone to do the job.
Chamber of Commerce
The board voted to join the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce again. The dues for a government unit were $125. Individual memberships cost $25, the amount previously approved by the township board for membership in the Chamber of Commerce.
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