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Rushford Village keeps at Planning and Zoning


By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Nov 8th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Village Government

The long process of setting forth a comprehensive plan is getting nearer to an end. Several months of work determining current zoning and planning responsibilities and ordinances are leading towards the establishment of an official Planning and Zoning Commission. Currently, the city has only a Zoning Board of four members and Administrator John Petit and the city council itself acts as a board of adjustment.

After a read-through of zoning ordinances by Joyce Iverson on behalf of the city and the zoning, the city is nearer to ironing out the details and approval by legal counsel and the city council. Current zoning ordinances reflected on what the city is already doing in terms of the planning commission, according the Iverson. The ordering and language of some sections have been unclear, however, occasionally duplicating or omitting items.

“I volunteered to do this as member of the zoning board to continue work we started over the last three and a half years,” said Iverson. “We need to start with document we have and plug in what is absolutely necessary.”

It is critical that the city approve the document for planning and zoning prior to approving the comprehensive plan. “We need to be qualified as the body to do it before we actually do it,” added Mayor Dale Schwanke.

A public hearing will be held on the matter November 19, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The final budget will also be addressed at the meeting, as the city looks to certify the final levy prior to December 3.

The city has been invited, along with eight other towns, to participate in a Destination Medical Center (DMC) event. Coordinated to further economic development of the Mayo Healthcare System and Minnesota, this event is slated for November 18, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro. Open to the public, towns participating in the event will have a physical presence at the event, as well as the ability to chat one-on-one with DMC representatives, giving them a 3-minute “story” of the community.

“As a city, we don’t have a lot of businesses that fit tourism,” noted Mayor Schwanke.

“The DMC is much bigger than tourism,” responded Zoning Board Member Joyce Iverson, who has long worked with economic development in both the Village and the city of Rushford. “This is a unique opportunity to talk with the folks from DMC.”

A suggested participation fee of $50 has been asked by organizers. It is unclear at this point if the Village will participate.

The city has authorized Schwanke and Public Works Director Bob Thieret to evaluate options for a skid steer for the city. Very much in need, it would be used for a number of projects including public safety, water/sewer, and other maintenance issues. A used 236 CAT skid steer, with 1,600 hours, is being considered for purchase from the City of Rushford for $14,500. Another option is available in Eagle River, Wis. and comes with more add-on equipment needed for the machine, as well as a trailer. That option is $18,000.

Councilman Gordon Johnson noted his preference for having a trailer for the machine. Currently, the city uses a privately-owned trailer for moving equipment, but that opens the owner up to potential liability or litigation. “I just think we shouldn’t have a machine and no way to haul it,” added Johnson. Currently, Thieret holds a Class-B license, which allows for pulling of combined weight less than 10,000 pounds. Should the city opt for a trailer in which it can haul both its backhoe and a skid steer, either Thieret or part-time employee Evan Meier will need to secure a Class-A license. Should the city opt for the skid steer out of Wisconsin, it will fall in Class-B guidelines.

As for the machine available from the City of Rushford, if the council goes forward with that purchase, it was suggested perhaps the sale could be held off until after January 1 so the Village can take advantage of new non-taxable rules. For now, Schwanke and Thieret will evaluate all the options before purchasing what is most economical, as directed by the council’s approval.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, November 19, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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