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Paynesville Press - August 3, 2005

City council approves rezoning of eight properties

By Melissa Andrie

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, July 27.

*The council reviewed recommendations from the public works committee concerning the 2006 Street Improvement Project. After research, the committee recommended the following: assessing rear frontages at 50 percent of their footage; constructing Washburne Avenue at 42 feet in width (instead of the current 54 feet) with a 12-foot boulevard on each side; building South Street at 32-feet width with a four-foot boulevard; not adding a sidewalk to Pomeroy Avenue due to low pedestrian usage; overlaying the south end of Central Avenue as planned; and using the city's supply of black dirt for seeding.

*The council approved re-zoning eight properties within the city to reflect their current uses. During a review of the zoning map, the Planning Commission identified 12 properties to be re-zoned and a public hearing allowed the property owners and neighbors to share concerns. A request was made by owners Alvin and Victoria Hartmann, Mike Nehring, and Charles Schleper for their properties on Oak Park Avenue to remain zoned for highway commercial use, despite their current residential use. A fourth property - on Lake Avenue - will have a change in property taxes as part of the re-zoning, because the lot is bare. Its owners, Lawrence and Leola Wendroth, had been informed that this would not occur before the commission learned otherwise. These four properties will be further addressed by the commission, which did not want to force rezoning.

Zoning designations include R1 (single and two-family residential), R2 (multi-family residential), C1 (central business), C2 (highway commercial), and I1 (light industrial). Properties approved for rezoning are: Gary Olson's South Street property (from C2 to R1), Richard and Linda Michaelis' Spruce Street property (C1 to C2), the Paynesville Area Hospital District's First Street property (R1 to C2), Dan and Michelle Johnson's Mill Street property (C1 to R1), the Central Minnesota Federal Credit Union's Minnie Street parking lot (R1 to C1), Calvin and Marsha Davidson's South Street property (C2 to R2), Dick and Susan Madison's Mill Street property (C2 to R1), and the city of Paynesville's ambulance garage (C2 to R1).

*The council approved a mutual aid agreement among Stearns County fire departments to replace the existing agreement. A change was made in the agreement so that any department aiding another for more than eight hours can receive compensation for the assistance from the department in need, regardless of the availability of federal government funds to cover the cost.

*The council heard from city attorney Bill Spooner regarding the open meeting law requiring that all occurances when more than two members of the council are present and city business is discussed to be posted at least three days in advance as meetings of the council.

The council discussed treating meetings of all commissions and boards as regular council meetings, so council members could attend them without fearing violation. Other events, such as trainings or conferences to be attended by more than two council members, also need to be posted if any city business is discussed. Chance meetings of council members on the street or at community events and problems that might result from e-mails being sent or phone conversations being held between more than three members were discussed.

Spooner will get input from other cities as well as the league and report back to the council.

*The council approved a study of city wastewater flow, to be done by Bolton's & Menk, Inc., of Mankato for $7,500. Three proposals were received for the project, with costs ranging up to $23,000 and Bolton & Menk, Inc., submitting the lowest-cost proposal. Associated Milk Producer's, Inc. (AMPI), has an agreement with the city to the level of flow it can discharge monthly, with overages warranting a surcharge. In June, a large surcharge was imposed, and AMPI employees are concerned about a possible discrepency between their flow metering system and the city's. An agreement was made for AMPI to pay for 80 percent of the project out of its June surcharge.

*The council approved a study of city land for a rapid infiltration basin, also to be done by Bolton & Menk, for $5,000. The company again submitted the lowest of three proposals, which ranged up to $21,600. The analysis will determine whether the existing site can support changes from the re-routing of Highway 23 as well as possible future growth.

*The council approved changes to the overtime compensation policy for employees. As passed, it allows employees to choose compensation in cash at one and a half times the regular hourly rate of pay or time off at one and a half times the same rate, with a maximum of 80 hours earned.

On-call compensation is considered separately, with one hour earned for each ten hours of on-call time and a 120-hour maximum. The policy also clarified use of accrued compensation hours.

*The council approved a permanent easement for Lakedale Telephone Company to place a telephone box at Veteran's Memorial Park. The 25-foot by 15-foot structure will be at the corner of Old Lake Road and Koronis Park Road.

*The council rejected a $1,000 bid by Voss Plumbing & Heating to remove approximately 3,500 square feet of mixed top soil in excess at the Paynesville Municipal Airport. Though the soil is likely too mixed to be used for top soil, it could eventually be used for fill and isn't harmful in its current location, the council decided.

*The council discussed a bid from General Irrigation & Dewatering of Oakes, N.D., to sell irrigation pipe and fittings owned by the city. The company offered to pay $1,000 down, take the equipment to its store for viewing by customers, and pay $2 per foot of pipe and $35 per fitting as the inventory is sold. At the end of two years, unsold inventory would be paid for at these rates. The risk taken by allowing payment over time, especially with the company having control of the inventory, was discussed by the council.

A decision was made to contact the company and discuss different financing options.

*The council heard from Spooner regarding references to state laws that are placed in city ordinances. References that adopt future changes in state law may be ineffective and the city could pass an ordinance on a regular basis to adopt all changes in state law as they affect city ordinances. The feasibility of finding such references in the current format of the ordinances was discussed. Websites of other cities will be reviewed and the format of their ordinances verified before the council makes a decision.

*The council approved the Paynesville Fire Department's payment schedule for its lump sum pension plan. Active members accrue a specified annual benefit level - which is $1,300 for 2005 - and receive the funds during retirement. Total accrued liabilities for 2005 are $33,612.

*The council approved an ammendment to the hanger relocation grant for the airport, which calls for an additional $20,611.70 (80 percent) to be spent by the state and an additional $5,165.42 (20 percent) to be spent by private hanger owners to finish the relocation.

*The council authorized the city administrator to purchase fuel through the end of 2005 to be sold at the airport. Currently, the administrator has authorization to spend up to $2,000 without council approval, and a discussion was held about appointing an airport manager with the power to buy fuel and other materials for the airport.

*The council decided to have a letter drafted to those who served on the Comprehensive Plan Task Force (or those who have replaced them in their positions) asking them to serve on a task force that will work with a state team regarding the planning and design of the city.

*The council reapproved the annexation agreement for the Ferche development. A change was made regarding the tax base, which cannot be phased from the township to the city. Instead, the value of the annexed property is immediately 100 percent of its value within the city and the annexation resolution now reflects this.

*The council approved the purchase of two water meters for $2,640. Each year, the meters are tested, and it will be less costly for these to be replaced instead of repaired.

*The council appointed Dani Lindner to the Human Rights Commission, in replacement of Maria Thompson, who resigned.

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