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Lanesboro City Council Report: Seeking to resolve differences

Fri, May 25th, 2007
Posted in Government

Disagreement was the common thread at the May 21 Lanesboro City Council meeting as the council moved from one issue to another. First the council held a hearing on Mark Brewster's request to rezone his property at 300 Elmwood Street East from R-2 (multi-family residential) to R-3 (residential business district). Since the city doesn't allow spot zoning, all properties between the existing R-3 and the Brewster property would also be rezoned R-3. Brewster wishes to rent the home on a short-term basis. Neighbor Jill Underwood spoke to support Brewster in his request, noting she had no concerns about it as a lodging establishment since Brewster already had experience in the business. Kevin Fitzgerald called the project good for the neighborhood and the community just as everything Brewster has done so far has benefited the city. Hal Cropp, speaking for himself and the Commonweal also supported Brewster. Richard and Lisa Thoen, owners of property that would also be rezoned, however, in a phone call earlier in the day told city administrator Bobbie Torgerson they were opposed to the rezoning but were unable to attend the hearing. Later in the regular council meeting, the council opted to invite all affected property owners to the next meeting and delayed a decision until then.

Holt Township road upkeep

Robert Knutson and other board members from Holt Township presented the next disagreement to the council. At their last meeting, the council had decided to no longer pay for the grading of the township road. Knutson found township meeting minutes from 1991; in these, was information about an agreement that the city would take over the road. The township "vacated" the road in Dec. 1991. Knutson commented, "It's pretty crystal clear that the city owns that road out to the 'Y.'" He went on, "We would like to get this resolved."

Council member Tom Dybing reported he'd looked at the annexation that had taken place in 1991, but said it didn't address the road. "I think it's poor tax policy that the township is collecting taxes on land on either side of the road and we're taking care of it!"

Council member Joe O'Connor reminded the group that both the township board and the council were advised by legal counsel in 1991, "If a resolution was adopted, we need to just move on." The council will have city attorney Tom Manion check his files for further information.

Pottebaum property

With yet another disagreement, Rick Pottebaum visited the council meeting to protest the city's communication with him, "Why not just pick up the phone and call me? Why do the whole court thing?" According to Pottebaum, a recent notice informed him he needed to remove a driveway culvert or face a $25 a day fine. Pottebaum proposed that every culvert in town was in the right of way and asked how he should prevent the driveway from washing away. He went on to inform the council he "had no problem" removing the items in the city right of way otherwise, claiming there wasn't much left. He did say, however, he'd need to bring in big equipment to take care of it.

Tom Dybing calmly responded that he didn't think it was anything Pottebaum hadn't been aware of. The city had actually opted to proceed with a civil suit against Pottebaum in October 2005 after failing in attempts to communicate with him. Pottebaum said he'd apparently missed a court date, claiming he'd not been notified. The council will follow up on the issue with Manion.

Pottebaum told the council that his home is mistaken for the golf course and asked if the sign for the golf course could be moved to the other side of the road or changed.

City audit

Lloyd Johnson, CPA, presented the yearly city audit to the council. He pointed out that the city net assets increased from $192,752 in 2005 to $252,894 in 2006. The governmental fund balances were also up ($640,269 in 2005 and $680, 984 in 2006). General fund balance was at $531,719. Since the city only spends $580,000 all year, this balance could be reduced-the state only requires a $290,000 balance. Johnson suggested the funds could be used to pay off deficits in the fire department ($68,748) and the park and rec department ($96,507) as well as to close out the skatepark shortage ($858). Johnson told the council some cities put the completed audit on their websites and offered to make it available to Lanesboro as a PDF.

Torgerson encouraged the council to consider transferring the funds to clear out the fire department deficit. No decision was made on the subject.

Other business

In other business the council:

• appointed Marge Drake to the Park Board

• accepted a bid of $3,900 from Norse Valley Construction to build a 12' by 24' shelter in the Sylvan Park campground (funding for the project will come from operating budget;

• accepted low bids for blacktopping from Dunn Blacktop Company and seal coating from Hardline Asphalt;

• opted to put a request for an increase for city employee health insurance benefits (from $450 to $550 monthly per employee) on the next council meeting agenda;

• granted permission to Rick Darling to have a food stand outside Das Wurst Haus during the Keillor weekend with live music from Ron Haugen.

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