During the regular meeting of the Wykoff City Council on July 11, the council heard concerns from two citizens about how the council work is handled. All council members were in attendance (Lyle Morey, Mary Sackett, Barb Fate, Mayor Ryan Breckenridge, and Kaleb Himli). City Clerk Becky Schmidt also attended.
Citizens Rachel and James Thissen each addressed the council. Rachel stated, “I have some questions with regards to the way that these meetings are conducted, and the way that decisions are made.” She went on to ask what version of “Robert’s Rules” are used for the council meetings. Mayor Breckenridge said he would check into this. Rachel added, “Of course, the rules are present in order to facilitate open, transparent dialogue.”
Kaleb Himli replied to Rachel, saying, “This is volunteer work. I mean, we’re lucky to have this many people on the council. So, we’re not getting lawyers in here to run the town all the time, you’re getting a mechanic. So I kind of know the rules of the meeting, but I’m not a professional at it.” Rachel added that she’s simply asking questions, regarding how the city meetings are run. Becky Schmidt responded that she will check with the League of Minnesota Cities regarding this concern, and how cities are expected to operate and run meetings. Rachel also said the city’s decisions should be based on data, and all relevant facts should be recorded in the minutes of meetings. Mary Sackett stated, “Well, I think we need to work harder on that.” Schmidt said the minutes are public information, and any interested citizens are welcome to have access to public records.
James Thissen asked about the decision about the city office being moved to another location. He said such decisions should always be based on what’s best for the city, and to make the best use of public funds. He added, “That was not the impression that I got, from the discussion, from what I read in the minutes… That’s my frustration.” Himli replied that he had personally done some research to compare costs on the options considered. James said such research and findings should be recorded as part of the public record, so the city decisions could be clearly understood. James summarized, “It’s about efficiency, it’s about transparency, it’s about clarity.”
Regarding a zoning request from Tony Rahe, the city heard from Brian Morgan, representing the engineering firm of SEH. Morgan was consulted regarding whether the request would entail adding a sewer hookup. He stated, “That’s what I want to ask, and a few questions as well, just to understand the setup… I guess it really just comes down to how that drainage is managed.”
Tony Rahe then explained, “Basically, it’s a shipping container, and it’s all self-enclosed hydroponic farming.” He went on, explaining that his water usage will vary based on which crops are currently being raised, and added that he’s learning as he goes. Rahe added that to water will be re-used, with nutrients added as needed. No sewer hookup is anticipated at this time, but Rahe said he may consider that at some point, if/when he decides to add a bathroom. Becky Schmidt pointed out that the property is already zoned as commercial. No formal action was taken, but the matter will be considered again during the special meeting on August 20.
City Attorney Corinne Haugen was present as the council considered options for the Lucas property. She stated, regarding the city’s ongoing efforts to address violations of city ordinances at that property, and the plans to begin an abatement process, “Judges really do not like doing this. It’s a very drastic measure, but… even though you guys have all this evidence since 2009… What courts do like to see is a building inspector’s report, indicating that the house is not habitable, and for what reason.” She suggested that the city make arrangements with a qualified building inspector, and request permission from the property owner, for the building inspection to occur. She added that if permission is not granted, the city could then ask the court for a warrant to allow the inspection to happen.
The council heard from Mark Burmeister, on behalf of Wykoff Commons. He addressed the council regarding the meadow that is on a portion of the property, and he referred to statutes specifically allowing such a meadow. Mayor Breckenridge read from the ordinance, and noted that for a meadow to be allowed, it must first be cleared of vegetation, and then wildflowers and similar plants are to be seeded. After discussion, the council voted to send a letter to Wykoff Commons, giving 10 days for the area to be mowed, as the city has done with other properties in town.
Wykoff’s next city council meeting will be Monday, August 8 at 7 p.m. at city hall.