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Paynesville Press - October 19, 2005

Council sets Highway 23 meeting, approves grant application

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

*The council approved resubmitting a grant application to the Small Cities Development Program. Last year, the state provided funding to 16 applications out of 50, with Paynesville finishing 22nd. Again, the city will target 27 commercial buildings, 24 residences, and 13 rental properties for rehabilitation, asking for $1.275 million in the grant. (See story.)

*The council approved holding a special Highway 23 informational meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. at city hall. The council intends to invite the Highway 23 Task Force, the Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors, and the Roseville Township Board of Supervisors, as well as the general public. City administrator Steve Helget informed the council that he and public works director Ron Mergen had met with MnDOT and expected them to submit their municipal consent request in January 2006.

Mayor Jeff Thompson raised the idea of setting a special meeting to discuss Highway 23. He said the meeting was needed to keep the public informed, as well as provide them with an opportunity to comment. Things with Highway 23 might start to happen fast, he said, and the city needed to keep up.

*The council approved a contract with Inspectron, Inc., for building inspector services for 2006. The council had directed the planning commission to review building inspector services and consider options available to the city prior to the annual reappointments made by the council in January.

The planning commission reviewed a number of firms and then solicited bids from four. Inspectron and Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, the current building inspector, were the only two to submit bids. The planning commission unanimously recommended Inspectron.

Under a revised proposal, Inspectron offered 20 hours of service per week at a monthly rate of $3,500. This would total $42,000 per year, but the city would keep 100 percent of the building permit fees.

Council member Jean Soine expressed concern that the city would not collect enough in building permits to cover these inspection services and voted against this contract.

Council member Jeff Bertram, on the other hand, noted that Inspectron would be handling all correspondence, doing all the tracking, and providing monthly reports, a considerable time savings for city staff, he said.

Bertram, Thompson, and council member Dennis Zimmerman voted in favor of the contract while Soine voted against it.

Inspectron and Mid-Minnesota will need to work out a transition process and time frame for the switch, noted Helget.

*The council heard a verbal report fromMergen about the possibility of purchasing the property under two of the city's irrigation pivots. The city has first option to purchase both 40-acre parcels, which are up for sale. One of the parcels abuts the city sewer ponds and has been identified as a suitable place for an additional treatment pond.

Mergen said the city has done some preliminary work to find that this property is suitable for another treatment pond. The city also has looked at when it might need additional capacity for its treatment ponds. Should the city average 45 new homes per year, according to that initial evaluation, they would have a need for additional capacity between 2015 and 2018.

Mergen told the council that they were still reviewing this in committee but would likely bringing it back to the council. The realtor, he said, had indicated that the seller wanted to sell both parcels together.

*The council gave verbal support to rezoning property belonging to Lawrence and Leola Wendroth on Lake Avenue. The property is currently zoned as Light Industrial, which the Wendroths like because of the flexibility, said Bertram, also a planning commission member.

The council, according to city attorney Bill Spooner, could rezone the property without the owner's consent. The council agreed that Light Industrial was not fitting for the neighborhood.

The primary reason behind the rezoning is that Light Industrial is the zoning classification where adult-use businesses could locate. Bertram said that the owners of an adult cabaret in Eden Valley searched two years for suitable property for their business.

He did not want to leave the city at risk, he said. If the Wendroth's property is rezoned, it would be valued higher, and thus the taxes would go up. Bertram said the city could agree with the Wendroths to lower the assessment.

The council directed city staff to continue negotiations with the Wendroths over the rezoning.

*The council set a public informational meeting for the 2006 Street Improvement Project for Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at city hall. The project includes: rebuilding South Street (from Lake Avenue about 150 feet east of Morningside Avenue); rebuilding Pomeroy Avenue (from Highway 23 to South Street); rebuilding Koronis Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); rebuilding Washburne Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); and overlaying Central Avenue.

*The council approved numerous changes to its ordinance on subdivision regulations. The changes were the subject of a public hearing and had been recommended by the planning commission.

Many of the changes were the addition of definitions or wording changes. The most significant changes included: reducing the acreage requirement for a planned unit development from 20 acres to one acre; reducing the requirement for prints to be submitted of a prelimary plat from five to three; reducing the number of business days that a preliminary plat must be submitted before planning commission reviewal from 15 days to 10 days; removing the requirement to identify an Indian reservation when platting (since none are located in the area); adding the requirement of identifying the high-water mark and other elevations if a subdivision abuts public water (since setbacks are judged from the high-water mark); and decreasing the minimum right-of-way widths for a local road to 32 feet (was 36 feet), for a service road to 30 feet (was 36 feet), and for an alley to 16 feet (was 20 feet). Since these widths are minimums, the city still could require wider right-of-way for major streets.

The council was also advised that plats the county recommends that no more street names be duplicated in the county.

*The council set a public hearing for Wednesday, Nov. 9, to certify past-due garbage, water and sewer, snow removal, and mowing bills with the county, the purpose being to put these overdue accounts on next year's property taxes.

*The council approved promoting Alice McColley to deputy registrar, effective Thursday, Oct. 13, for a three-month probationary period.

*The council approved posting the vacant motor vehicle clerk position, vacated by McColley.

*The council approved new job descriptions for city employees, 14 in all. The job descriptions had been reviewed by each employee and by the personnel committee.

*The council also approved hiring Public Sector Personnel Consul-tants to re-evaluate these new job descriptions and rate them for pay equity. In other words, each job is rated for pay based on the skills required. The last time the city re-evaluated, or re-pointed, job descriptions was 1998.

*The council approved payment to Safe Assure Consultants, Inc., for $4,304 for safety training for city employees for 2006.

*The council approved an agreement with Christine Flugga to assess $1,019, plus interest, for sewer repairs. Emergency repairs were needed at her residence on Mill Street, and Flugga requested to pay the costs over time on her taxes.

*The council approved amending its administrative offenses and fines for such offenses.

*The council approved allowing city personnel to attend the following training sessions: Mergen and Lee Schleper, water operator school; Joe Kremer and Bob Wander, winterizing water system training; and Helget, grant writing workshop and human resources for supervisors.

*The council approved allowing Helget and any city council member to attend the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference in Rochester, Minn., from Dec. 1-3 at a cost of $300 per person plus hotel and mileage.

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