The City of Peterson is making good on consequences recently instituted for non-compliance to city ordinances. For more than a year, the city has taken steps to clarify ordinances and policies and beef up ability to follow through on correcting situations. This includes non-compliant vehicles, discontinuation of utility services, and a recent look at revised Minnesota Basic Code that covers many of the city’s ordinances.
Administrative citations were mailed to three property owners regarding vehicle violations. As per ordinance, they were cited for failing to comply with regulation on location, non-current licensing, number of vehicles stored outside, being inoperable, or any combination of these. All vehicles’ licensing was obtained from public property.
Each of the citations equates to a $50 fine per vehicle. A second citation will be given for every vehicle that remains 30 days after the first citation. A $75 fine will be imposed for a second citation and 15 days given to correct the issue. Fines continue to accumulate and increase per each citation per vehicle.
Likewise, 18 disconnection to utility services notices were mailed from city hall, along with April utility billing. This includes residential property only. After some discussion, it was determined that the ordinance applies to businesses as well and letters to businesses not current on payment will be mailed May 20.
Minnesota Basic Code, a comprehensive document of ordinances for cities under a certain population size, was updated for 2019. The city has created a committee for reviewing the revisions, as well as determining which specific city-created ordinances should be kept. At a minimum, these will include the ordinances for non-compliant vehicles, discontinuation of utility services, and the keeping of chickens within city limits. The committee includes Mayor Tim Hallum, Councilor Loren Rue, City Clerk Chris Grindland, and resident Carlin Symons.
Prior to the May 8 council meeting, two ordinance-related concerns were voiced by citizens. The first concern was regarding dust and air quality, specifically what’s dubbed as “fugitive dust” by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The concern noted dust and debris from the feed mill in Peterson. It was noted that dust particulates are to be minimized or mitigated during unloading, loading, cleaning, drying. The committee will review Basic Code requirements regarding the issue.
The second concern was the amount of wood that can be stored on a property. “There’s not an ordinance or zoning restriction that I know of, but it’s something we should take a look at to be sure,” said Rue. The committee will review this issue as well.
The issue of dogs and cats running at large in the city was also addressed. An ordinance prohibiting it is in effect and a letter will be sent to residents with pets in violation.
Public Works Director Rick Lee was in attendance at the meeting and brought forth his own concern for ordinance-related issues, specifically the discharge of stormwater, via sump pumps, into the city sanitary sewer system.
Ordinarily, the city sees 18,000 gallons of water through its system in a given day. During recent winter thaw and spring storms, the city saw several instances in excess of 70,000. “We had one day with 130 gallons in one hour. The pumps ran steady,” said city maintenance worker Pete Erickson.
“We had so many days in a row that were extremely high,” noted Lee. “The engineer said it’s a bunch of different things; basements, manhole covers… when runoff overflows manhole covers. It was a really odd spring with so much ice and snow melt. A lot of it comes from the bluff here.”
Rue clarified that many residents have basement sump pumps that may go into sanitary sewer rather than outside. “Is there an inspection you can make?”
According to Minnesota Basic Code, surface runoff or groundwater connections are prohibited. It reads, “No person shall discharge water or cause to be discharged any unpolluted waters such as storm water, ground water, roof run off, subsurface drainage such as that from floor drains, sump pumps, cisterns, field tile or any other recognizable source or any type of private, commercial or industrial cooling water to any sanitary sewer.”
It was determined that city hall would contact residents, along Church Street in particular, to inquire about the pumping and draining of basement water.
In other public works news, the city will pay the upfront cost of improving electrical service to city hall and the city garage. Currently, the city has 100-amp service. 200-amp service is required for the types of events and activities held in the city. The city was quoted $4,809 to install the increased service to city hall, including a new box on the upper level of the basement, add 50-amp service on the exterior of city hall, add two, 50-amp and two, 20-amp outlets outside, and two add an outlet to back of the garage.
The Friends of Peterson, who organizes city festivals and activities, fundraising for the city, has agreed to reimburse the city for the cost in five years or less, making payment as able.
In new business, the city approved the purchase of flowers to adorn the bike trail. The flowers are maintained daily by resident and volunteer Nancy Atkinson. The flowers will be purchased with donated funds.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, June 12 , at 6 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.