The Peterson City Council meeting Wednesday, June 12 largely covered a number of long-standing discussion items. First up, the Federal Emergency Management Agency Floodplain Ordinance. As the agency is in the process of updating flood mapping, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the ordinance is a required piece for municipalities, particularly those whose residents need to secure flood insurance for federally-backed mortgages.
Previous mapping was done nearly 40 years ago and consisted of areas within the channel of the Root River and additional low-lying areas in Peterson. The city’s levee system along the river has not been recertified as per new standards set by the Army Corps of Engineers, mainly due to financial burden to do so. There is one property considered floodplain within the city, while the rest of the mapping remains unchanged, according to City Clerk Chris Grindland. New mapping will be official August 15.
Last month, the council discussed the item and approved the submission of a draft ordinance, opting to wait until Grindland could attend a conference in Lanesboro where detailed information about the ordinance was presented. After no further review by the council, Ordinance Z-2017-01, Appendix A, was approved unanimously.
The city is in the process of updating zoning ordinances via Minnesota Basic Code. The state has made updates to its 2014 code. These updates are geared for cities with a population of under 500 residents. Councilor and Zoning Board Member Loren Rue indicated he and fellow board member Carlin Symons recently met to discuss the changes. “There are a number of things we don’t have so don’t have to have those in our ordinance,” noted Rue.
Rue and Symons will continue to review the new document and hope Symons will have a summary to present to the council by the July meeting. Rue noted the ordinance changes do not have to be published as they are meant to be changed. “We can adopt it the way it is and come back at a later date with whatever revisions should be made and replace it,” he added.
In new business, the council was made aware of a request for a transfer from the Electric Fund to the Street Fund. The purpose would be to cover costs related to work on River and Park Streets. The project is on the docket for the city, but a bid from Dunn Blacktop has not yet been received. “There’s some money in electric fund that we could transfer out to street fund once we get the bid back,” said Grindland.
Electric funds may be needed for the maintenance plan the city previously developed in cooperation with MiEnergy. “We’ve talked about in the past,” said Hallum. “There is money still there, but we have to discuss. We haven’t been following through with it and I don’t want to get off schedule with that, too.” The council decided to table the request until the bid is received.
Rue questioned whether or not the Dunn Blacktop would be providing another bid for the remaining city streets, which includes Prospect, Centennial, Victory, and North Church Streets. The city has not committed to doing these additional streets, but is looking to determine the cost to bring all city streets to good condition. Currently, the plan on River and Park Streets is to grind the existing surface down, reshape, and repave it.
There is potential savings to the city should Dunn Blacktop set up a plant outside of Peterson, as has been rumored, but Rue indicated the company hasn’t made any formal decision. “If they did, it would be a savings to Peterson. I hope they do come,” he added.
Mayor Tim Hallum suggested the city talk with city engineers WHKS regarding an option to recycle the aggregate that is currently on the streets. “I’m curious if the option is out there of grinding and relaying it back. I know they’ve done that for other towns and added to where needed. If we haven’t heard anything back, we might want to talk to WHKS. We’ll have to work on it and see if we can get some numbers.”
Other upcoming Public Works projects include a number of maintenance items on city facilities and park areas. Public Works Director Rick Lee discussed a number of items including the exterior painting of city hall, the post office, and the park bathrooms, the reshingling of the park bathrooms and pump station, and possibly the interior painting of the park bathrooms. Sentenced to Serve (STS) has already committed to the city hall and post office projects. Lee indicated he would ask about the others, but that he didn’t know how much time STS could dedicate to one municipality.
The city is also looking to remove several athletic areas including the volleyball courts and the newer of the two softball fields. Noting neither area gets use, Hallum indicated they are overgrown with weeds and a maintenance issue. Grindland stated the school is wanting the scoreboard and press box building. The city will entertain offers for the fencing around the softball field.
The city has opted to cash in a savings CD in the amount of $18,000 to cover the cost of a water main break earlier this spring. The bill from Generation X was $12,750.
The city has been approved for a $3,000 Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council grant. The funds will be used to pay for music events in the city. As the city is the fiscal agent for the Friends of Peterson, a transfer of funds from one entity to the other was approved.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.