By Annie Lewis
Mabel residents have always been required to license their dogs, but after a recent incident, it will now be enforced more rigorously. At the April 12 Mabel City Council meeting, Mayor James Westby said that a child had been bitten by a dog that was not licensed and had no record of vaccinations. As a result, the city will be stepping up efforts to ensure residents comply with the Animal Control guidelines.
Mabel residents will receive reminders in their billing statements this month and have until May 1 to comply with licensing dogs and cats within the city limits. Fines will be issued to violators. Licenses cost $10 and can be obtained at City Hall. Proof of vaccinations are required for each animal.
The feral cat problem that was discussed at the March council meeting resulted in a positive action. A farmer that read the article about the abundance of cats in Mabel contacted the city and is willing to take all stray cats at no cost. Karen Larson, City Clerk, put the farmer in touch with Animal Control to work out the details to make this happen.
Mabel-Canton sophomore class president, Blake Henry, and Maddison Michels, class treasurer, came to the council meeting to ask permission to use Steam Engine Park for a fundraiser on May 20. The event will include a 5K run and family-friendly carnival. The funds will go for prom expenses the following year. By doing the fundraiser in the spring and joining with the Booster Club, the group hopes to raise more money and make it an event for families to enjoy. The council approved the request.
In other business, City Attorney Greg Schieber, addressed the solar ordinance zoning questions that had been brought forth at the March meeting. A potential business in town had inquired about putting in solar energy panels. Currently, the city zoning doesn’t address solar energy.
“It’s a good time to be putting a solar ordinance in place,” Schieber said. “Harmony is also looking into this and Lanesboro recently adopted an ordinance that covers both solar and geothermal structures. As it stands now, someone can put up solar panels, but they can’t hook into the city’s power grid without the city’s approval. An ordinance would help with regulating permits and installation specifications.”
Schieber reviewed a document that outlined the considerations Mabel may want to consider if they decide to move forward on establishing a solar energy ordinance. Some of these considerations include, what size of installation would be permissible, height limitations (pitched roof vs. flat roof), ground mount locations (front yard, side or rear), special considerations for aesthetics of neighborhood and special treatment for any solar farms or gardens within city limits.
Schieber suggested Mabel look at other towns to see what their ordinances cover and their application process. He said the Lanesboro ordinance requires that everyone must obtain a general permit, zoning certificate and building permit. Their application requires a project description, site drawing and specifics about installation (must be installed by a certified installer, etc.).
Mayor Westby and council members agreed that it would be good to have an ordinance in place and asked Schieber to send examples from other cities for council members to review and draft an ordinance for Mabel. The process to finalize an ordinance will take several months.
In a follow-up from last month’s meeting, action was taken on concerns about the speed of vehicles driving through the Steam Engine grounds. Last fall, a dog was hit and killed by a car driving through the park. Mayor Westby recommended to install a 15 mph sign and a cement barricade at the one end where there is a blind spot. “Let’s try this first to see if it helps reduce the speed through the park,” Westby said. “Our goal is to make the park easy for our visitors to access, but safe.”
City Works Director Bob Miereau updated the council on the drainage ditch issue along Highway 44. He obtained a cost estimate to install a culvert under the road, but said that estimate seemed high. He plans to get another estimate and will give a report at the next meeting.
The city is still working on the sump pump issue at the Water Treatment Plant. Miereau said it should be resolved soon. Both wells were not useable. The goal is to eventually get a new control panel and alarm system.
Miereau reported that Cherrywood Drive, just northwest of the school, has been approved to be blacktopped. Safety is a concern since it is the road that buses and visitors use to attend ball games at the school. Several cars have ended up in the ditch because the road conditions. Miereau said the state is considering widening the road and if that happens, it could be closed for about a year. In the meantime, the road may be temporarily closed if drainage doesn’t improve. Miereau will keep the city updated on further developments.
The city’s tree planting program is underway. Miereau has received seven orders for 11 trees to be planted. This doesn’t include the city’s order.
Jeff Rein, newly-hired Public Works Assistant, attended the meeting and reported that work was going well during his first weeks on the job.
Mabel’s “Cleanup Day” is scheduled for Saturday, May 13 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Waste Treatment Plant. Mayor Westby has taken photos of residences with junk and debris on their property. Residents are encouraged to use the clean-up day to dispose of these items. If not, further action will be taken and citations issued.
The city applied for a Rockwell Collins Grant and was awarded $1,000. The money will be used to install LED lights on the street lamps that have not been updated yet.
It was pointed out that the banners on the street poles on Main Street are getting tattered. The Business Association oversees these and Mayor Westby said he’d be sure this item gets on their April 19 meeting agenda.
The city is waiting to hear from Rural Development about moving the tank from City Park to Steam Engine Park. This agency has to approve the move before any action can be taken.
After review of accounts payable, the council approved the allocation of $111,156.78 for bills to be paid this period.
The next Mabel City Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 10 at 7 p.m.