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Preston Council approves parking variance for county

Fri, Jan 3rd, 2003
Posted in Features

The Preston City Council approved a parking variance for Fillmore Countys courthouse addition at a special meeting of the city council on Monday, December 30.

The county, which has 49 parking spaces available in its two existing parking lots, asked the city of Preston for a variance for the entire number of spaces needed for their 21,000 square foot addition. The countys argument was that while they are adding space to deal with courtroom security, they are not adding staff.

Prestons Zoning Ordinance calls for one parking space for every 250 square feet of building. If the county was forced to comply with the ordinance, they would need to provide 84 new parking spaces.

An informal survey conducted by Fillmore County Court Administrator Jim Attwood showed that generally speaking, off street parking is readily available in Prestons downtown.

Fillmore County Attorney Matt Opat told the council that the county is willing to work with the city on parking issues. Opat noted that things like signage could help improve usage of the two city owned parking lots (by the fire hall and behind the optometry clinic).

Preston City Council member Kurt Reicks, who sits on the Planning & Zoning Commission, said that parking has improved in the downtown since social services and the health department moved to the new county office building.

The businesses I talked to were very satisfied after the move, Reicks told the council.

Council member Mike Gartner asked the county about parking during construction.

We will need to use one parking lot for construction staging, Architect David Kane responded.

Kane said that one of the countys parking lots will be lost for the estimated 20 months of phased construction that will take place.

We will need to work with county staff on parking during this period, Kane said, hoping to minimize the impact construction will have on downtown businesses.

Reicks told the council that the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended that the council grant the variance. The council agreed, voting unanimously for the motion.

Other business

The council reviewed the work that has been done to date by Helping Minnesota Cities, Inc (HMC). The consulting firm has been hired by the city to update job descriptions, evaluate comparable worth, design a city-wide pay structure and conduct pay equity reviews for city employees.

Council members Steve Knoepke and Jerry Scheevel, who participated on the committee working with HMC, briefed the rest of the council on the proposed pay structure.

According to Knoepke a city employee will be able to reach their maximum pay compensation after 12 years on the job.

The council set a meeting for January 7 to meet with representatives of HMC to finalize the plan.

The council has forwarded a resolution passed by the city council on November 18 asking the Environmental Quality Board to require an Environmental Impact Statement on the Heartland Energy & Recycling energy plant to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

The last action of the night was taken by council member Mike Gartner. Gartner, speaking on behalf of the city, commended Mayor Clarence Quanrud and council members Steve Knoepke and Kurt Reicks for the many contributions to the city of Preston. All three men have worked the past eight years on the city council.

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