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Preston discusses parking ordinance for residential streets

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

Preston Police Chief Matt Schultz, along with City Administrator Joe Hoffman, described the concern over "on street parking" of semi trucks and trailers and recreational vehicles at the city's August 17 meeting. Hoffman said the city has received an increasing number of complaints over the last couple of years. David Harrison was absent.

Minnesota state statute allows up to 24 hours of uninterrupted parking for these types of vehicles. Schultz pointed to a Spring Valley ordinance which doesn't allow RV's or trucks over 10,000 pounds to be left on city streets over 24 hours. Semi and trailers are limited to one hour.

Hoffman made it clear the city was not targeting any one individual. He said many of the residential streets are too narrow to allow parking of large vehicles. Mayor Kurt Reicks said they should designate a semi-parking area in town.

Schultz encouraged the council to get an ordinance in place before snow falls for snow emergencies. Councilman Robert Sauer said any ordinance put in place must be enforced. There was a consensus to go ahead and draft an ordinance for alternate side parking during the winter. Staff would work on drafting an ordinance for semi trailers, RV's, commercial vehicles, and utility trailers.

Caboose location at elevator

Dick Petsch and Bob Maust, representing the Preston Historical Society, asked the council's approval of their recommended site for a caboose near the historic elevator. They had staked out a preferred location and council members had been asked to look at the staked area before the meeting.

Sauer asked if they had considered placing the caboose north of the elevator. Petsch reminded him that the area north of the elevator is the proposed site of a planned addition. Sauer was concerned about the caboose blocking the covered picnic area which will be somewhat behind the caboose when viewed from the parking area. Maust said there is enough room for handicapped accessible five foot walkways. The caboose is to be placed on a second track offset from the boxcar. The addition on the north side is to be built similar to what it once was in 1909 when it was a feed room. They plan to make it into an interpretive center to learn about grains.

Maust says the project is listed on page 72 of the sales tax amendment passed in the 2008 election and should qualify for funding. The application for grant funds needs to be submitted prior to November 1. Petsch asked for a letter detailing the city's support for the project plus their commitment to bring power to the site. The council approved the plan for the caboose and a letter of support for the overall project.

Other Business In Brief

• David Joerg, attorney for the city in the eminent domain lawsuit to acquire land for the Forestville Trail, had requested a closed door session with the council to discuss the recent petition by landowners Ristau and Snyder for an EAW or EIS. The session lasted over twenty minutes with no comment from the council when the regular meeting resumed.

Joe Hoffman reviewed the proposed budget for 2010. He noted the Local Government Aid was down about $38,000 due to unallotment by the governor. However, the council had made $58,000 worth of cuts in February. There will be a $27,000 carry-over from 2009, which will give the city a net loss of about $10,000 of LGA for 2010.

Hoffman has suggested that the Utility Commission share in the cost of his salary and that of the custodian whose services are shared by both government entities. He wants the Utility to pick up a total of $31,000 in costs. The Utility Commission has not met to discuss or vote on this shift of expenses.

Expenses are up but so are revenues with the proposed cost sharing with the Utility. The biggest increase is for salaries which includes a 3% COLA raise. The levy is proposed to total $662,865 with an increase of $31,000 or 4.9%. Hoffman warned that unallotment could be used more than once. He complimented department heads for keeping increases down. Most increases are a result of salary and benefits.

• Shelly Hanson, the new owner of the B & B Bowl, requested and received a variance on the south side of the building to add a walk-in refrigerator. MnDot had no objection to the variance for a thirteen foot setback (twenty-five foot is the requirement).

• An agreement with Fillmore Family Resources Victim Liaison for 2010 and 2011 was approved costing the city $400 each year. Attorney Luhmann said they provide services to victims of domestic violence, child abuse and domestic crime, explaining the legal process to victims, making victims aware of their right to be present at sentencing and explaining plea agreements.

• A committee of Joe Hoffman and Robert Sauer was established to go through the city ordinances with the help of attorney Dwight Luhmann to address the level of penalty that would be appropriate for violations. Sauer has maintained that ordinance 10.99, which lays out a penalty for most infractions, is too severe in many cases.

• Hoffman explained that there is a levee which was built during the mid 1960s around the waste water treatment plant. FEMA is revising flood plain maps for Fillmore County and wants the levee re-accredited. Hoffman said the levee won't be re-certified unless the city supplies documentation. Unlike most levees FEMA is asking to be re-accredited, this one only protects the plant and not homes and people.

Hoffman was directed to compose a letter saying the city wishes to comply and asks for two years to complete the documentation. He wants time to find out if this levee is required to stay accredited by the Pollution Control Agency and by the city's insurance company.

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