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Peterson continues progress on County 25, zoning

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Aug 23rd, 2013
Posted in Peterson Government

By Kirsten Zoellner

The County 25 project, a massive undertaking for the city, is still underway and a feasibility study is ongoing. The city, which will share a portion of the cost with the county, is still relatively in the dark about their share of the issue. As engineers complete the necessary preliminary work, the city is tackling some other issues related with the project, namely signage for certain areas.

According to Mayor Jennifer Wood, an issue with trucks “jake braking” as they enter the city has continued. Speed, particularly in areas with children, is also an issue. However, after one company was met with complaints, Wood noted that it appears things may have been resolved. Still, the city would like to place further signage to alert drivers of specific hazards. The need for signage will be brought up with the engineers working on the road project. In the meantime, the city will get prices for at least three signs, including those alerting drivers to children in the area. It’s likely that the county will pay for at least one of the signs.

The council also discussed ongoing issues with trucks headed to Chuck’s Feed & Grain lining up along the roadway. One option, to erect a sign noting no parking in a particular location, was considered. Instead, Councilors Grindland and Erickson will talk with owner Mike Eidenschenk about the issue.

Several zoning issues have also been hanging in limbo for the city, partially due to the recent, unexpected resignation of city attorney Tom Manion. “We couldn’t move on anything,” stated Councilor Dick Lee. Looking to quickly fill the position again, Lee spoke with several area attorneys to determine interest. One respondent declined based on current work load, a second cited potential conflicts of interest by already representing several Peterson, Minn. residents.

Following a recommendation by city clerk Megan Grebe, the city has agreed to hire Harmony attorney Richard Nethercut, who was also approached by Lee. Nethercut already represents several other area municipalities. “It might be good to have a new set of eyes that don’t know everyone,” noted Wood.

With the attorney in place, Mayor Wood turned the council back to zoning issues and referred to a motion made at the last zoning meeting to create a system for issues that aren’t spelled out specifically in the Minnesota basic code. In that system, those out of compliance with ordinances would receive a letter from the city, followed by 10 days to notify the city of their plan to bring compliance. From that notification, the offender would then have 30 days to rectify the problem. Failure to do so would result in a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.

“As long as it’s black and white,” added Councilor Barry Erickson.

The city is also working on a set letter that will go out with non-compliance issues. The city attorney will review the letter and will make a recommendation on what steps the city should take if an issue remains out of compliance after the 30 day period. “We need people to know that if there’s an issue that we’re doing something about it,” noted Wood.

Continuing with positive city communication, the city has agreed to be the fiscal agent for Gammel Dag and Taste of the Trail events. In the past, some disagreements had arisen over who ran certain events and where proceeds were directed to. Funding for the events is often donated, but in the past, the city has covered the cost of items such as police and portable restrooms for events. Now, an events fund will be created within the city budget.

“I like the idea,” noted Wood. “It stops some of the divide and will bring together the events as city events rather than his or her event.” It was also noted and agreed upon that any use of funds or dispersal of profits within the community will be more transparent to the public as they would be more easily accounted for.

Other issues discussed by the council included:

•Budget planning for 2014 - city clerk Grebe will present the budget at the September 11 meeting.

•Creation of a master city plan for project – Following a presentation by SEH, in relation to the County 25 project, the city has considered the need for a complete master plan. It is possible that the council will address this plan yearly in a planning session. However, overwhelmed by the current road project, the city will wait on the plan and address it during future budget talks.

•Hail damage – An insurance adjuster has surveyed all city properties and presented a listing of detailed recommendations. The city will take the recommendations to a contractor for cost estimate before returning to the adjuster with the estimate to see what amount insurance will pay for the repairs.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, September 11, at 7p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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