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Lanesboro discusses Amish vendors

Fri, Nov 8th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Government

A crowd of people, including several from the Amish community, attended the Lanesboro City Council meeting on November 4 to discuss vendors doing businesses at Sylvan Park. Mayor Steve Rahn explained the Amish have been selling food and other items at the park for years, but several other people have come forward asking to sell things in the park as well.

Rahn’s concern was that an open air market is not really the intended use of the park. There is also the issue of being fair to everyone.

The park is an R1-zoned property, and under zoning ordinance, open air markets are not allowed. The council can make exceptions for special occasions.

Rahn said the city is in no way trying to kick the Amish out of the park, and they are not against what they are doing. The only issue is the location.

Lanesboro resident Butch Culbertson asked if there was a different area they could use that was zoned properly.

“We’re willing to work with them and find a spot,” said Rahn. “The Amish definitely add to the fabric of the community.”

Farmer’s Market Manager Stena Lieb said this year they have opened up the market to craft sales as well. She said they would love to have the Amish vendors at the Farmer’s Market. The only issue is that the guidelines require insurance, and that is a problem for many of the Amish people.

Lawrence Hermsoth said he is a new resident of Lanesboro, but has been coming to the area for years. He said the view drew him down here, as well as the Amish.

“The public needs to be made aware of this ordinance,” said Hermsoth. “There is a large passion for the Amish here and support for tourism. If other vendors want to come that would be great.”

Hermsoth asked if the town could vote on what would vendors to allow. Rahn said another issue is there are people that have businesses and restaurants in Lanesboro and pay taxes, and there would be competition.

There was a lot of interest in supporting the Amish among the residents at the meeting. City Administrator David Todd reiterated the fact that the city has to be fair, and cannot enforce an ordinance on some people and not others. The issue will be looked at more in the future.

Church Hill parking

There was a discussion about what should be done with the parking lot at the Church Hill Condos. The owners had written a letter to the council expressing their intentions and concerns.

Right now the parking lot is owned by both the city and the Church Hill School Condominium Association. It is used mostly by residents of the condos, but also by people attending services at the Bethlehem Church. The area needs to be blacktopped.

One option is for the city to own the entire lot and pay for all of the maintenance. If it remains jointly owned, they will have to come to an agreement about how to pay for maintenance. If the lot belongs to only the condominium, it can only be used by the residents who live there.

Theresa Coleman, from the Public Utilities Commission, mentioned that according to ordinance, the owners of the property are required to provide an appropriate number of parking spaces before development even takes place. It didn’t make sense to her that the city would own the parking lot and take on the expense of maintaining it.

There were concerns expressed about taking the parking away from people belonging to the church. It was also mentioned that there are also seven parking places right along Hillcrest that are paved and striped right near the property.

No decisions were made at the meeting.

Public Utilities

Coleman updated the council on the recent Public Utilities meeting. Recently, there were 652 surveys sent out to residents in their utility bills. The surveys, which ask for income levels, are completely anonymous. Coleman explained they are trying to get help with funding for the water radium project, and they need 51 percent of the residents to come in below the median income requirement. So far there are 150 outstanding surveys, and the city needs to get at least 89 of them back in order to determine eligibility.

Web Management

A quote was received, and approved, from the Lanesboro Web Management Group for $1,200 to amend the city’s current web site. They will be working on putting all of the city’s ordinances online. They are also working on a method to search the ordinances. It will be a one-time fee, and there will be some cost sharing with the Public Utilities Commission.

Fire Department

Fire Chief Rob Wagner said the fire department went ahead and purchased the air bags they spoke about at last month’s council meeting. The air bags are used to lift vehicles and other structure during a rescue. Wagner explained the fire safety supplier gave them a good deal on the bags.

Other Business

The council approved Mary Ippel from Briggs and Morgan to be the bond counsel for the water radium project.

After a public hearing in which there were no comments or concerns, the council approved the request from Clarice Ward Trust to vacate part of 5th Street.

The council also approved the street vacation request from Rick Lamon for 106 Beacon Street.

The council approved the appointment of Jason Reissman to the Planning and Zoning Commission. There were no other applicants for the position.

Turkey Bowling was approved for the Parkway Pub, which will be the same as previous years.

The ambulance billing contract was approved.

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