With the one-year ag zoning moratorium study period ending, the Caledonia City Council spent considerable time at the March 13 meeting discussing the city’s comprehensive land use plan, reviewing zoning maps, and the four options presented by City Clerk/Administrator Jake Dickson.
The four options are: 1. Rezone based on the land use map in the comp plan. 2. Create a transitional ag zone as a buffer near residential. 3. Do nothing. 4. Don’t change the map but make changes to agricultural uses.
Dickson recommended that the council follow the 2021 comprehensive plan. Public Works/Zoning Director Casey Klug added that the comp plan serves as a guide for the city, and he uses it regularly. Council members emphasized that a lot of work, two years of meetings, went into developing the plan.
“What exists stays,” stressed Dickson. “New ag doesn’t fit with that plan.”
No motion was needed. The council was in consensus that they should go with the comp plan.
Council members in attendance were Robert (Bob) Klug, Amanda Ninneman, Mayor DeWayne (Tank) Schroeder, David Fitzpatrick, and Ryan Stenzel.
The mayor called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. and led his fellow council members and visitors’ gallery in the pledge of allegiance. The council approved the agenda and the minutes from the February 27 regular city council meeting.
Dickson asked the city council to start thinking about park projects they would like to see included in the city’s 2024 budget. The initial conversation included the pickleball courts and plans for the town-owned property where the new wastewater treatment facility is being built. Ninneman explained that a portion of the property is to stay natural because of rainwater that runs through the property. In the past, there has been talk about non-paved walking trails and a natural playground.
Caledonia resident Darrin Rose appeared before the council to follow up on the feral cat problem in his neighborhood, asking, “What actions have been taken from when I was here last time?” Dickson answered that the city had caught three cats in the last two weeks. Mayor Schroeder emphasized, “We are trying to get something done.”
Two students from Robbie Sobczak’s mindset class at Caledonia High School appeared before the council. The students update them on their steps to get Sprague Woods designated as a school forest. The board was presented with a joint powers agreement for their approval. However, the city tabled the students’ request until the March 27 meeting giving the city attorney the time to review the agreement.
As part of the School Forest application process, Sobczak’s students drafted a mission statement, “Our mission as a whole is to provide an abundance of learning outside the normal classroom to enrich the next generations in nature.” In addition, they must complete at least five educational activities each year, submit an annual report, and create a stewardship plan to ensure the forest remains a forest.
Klug reported that there had been lots of snow plowing again. Council members added that there would be more plowing at the end of the week. In addition, Klug and Dickson will attend the Houston County commission meeting on March 14 regarding the Grove Marshal Street project.
Dickson shared that the city received eight lifeguard applications and is scheduling interviews. The council wondered how many lifeguards were needed. Director Klug said, “We have had 14 in the last couple of years, and it’s never enough.” The city is still running an ad for lifeguards. In April, there is a certification class in La Crosse. Stenzel asked if the students could earn work study credit. Dickson will look into it.
In other business, the council:
• Approved two pay requests totaling $352,915.67 for work completed on the wastewater treatment facility;
• Hired Devin Vonderohe as the 2023 summer baseball director. Vonderohe is responsible for scheduling games, umpires, and fields for the summer ball program;
• Approved soft drink licenses.
• Approved the township ambulance contracts;
• Adjourned the meeting at 7:52 p.m.
The next regularly scheduled Caledonia City Council meeting is Monday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Caledonia City Hall, 231 E. Main Street. The public is invited to attend.
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