The topic of properties violating the nuisance ordinance was once again a main discussion at the Canton City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, July 12. Mayor Josh Nordsving noted that there are three concerning areas that need to be addressed.
The first has to do with safety concerns at the former elementary school, owned by Joel Pfeffer; the second is regarding excessive debris on Danny Whalen’s lot on Main Street; and the third is a storage shed on Lindsi Poppe’s property that was built without a permit and does not have proper setbacks.
The council opted to continue legal action, citing both Whalen and Poppe, who have not contacted the city regarding their issues, even after receiving correspondence from the city advising them of potential consequences to being out of compliance.
Nordsving said there had been communication between the city attorney and Poppe, where she had indicated she would fill out the proper paperwork for the permit. However, the deadline for her to take action has now passed and she has made no attempt to obtain that permit. The city could now obtain the right to go in and tear the shed down if nothing is remedied.
The council members voiced frustration over once again having to start the cycle of legal action with Whalen. Nordsving acknowledged that the city cites him, pays legal fees, goes through the courts and gets a judgement that requires Whalen to pay a fine, which does not cover the costs of the legal fees. However, the council members agreed, they do not have a choice and need to be persistent regarding efforts to keep residents and business owners compliant.
No formal communication has been taken place with Pfeffer either, but Councilor Jen Dowling said she had heard he is working on a church in Lanesboro and he plans to finish that before working on his property in Canton.
“A simple phone call or some sort of response would suffice for a little while,” Nordsving said.
At the June meeting, Clerk Anne Koliha noted he had until August to address some of the structural deficiencies at the former school.
The council agreed citations should be issued to Whalen and Poppe with future action still being considered for the Pfeffer property.
In his mayoral report, Nordsving said he had been receiving calls and texts from residents about individuals playing behind the old school property and others driving ATVs at high rates of speeds through areas where people are gathered – such as near the ball field where softball games are being held. Nordsving just reminded people to use caution and drive slowly within the city limits.
Deputy Clerk Barb Kerns told the council that the Canton Historical Society had obtained a quote for fixing 10 windows and four storm windows at the Mitson House in the amount of $11,200. Nordsving was surprised by the quote, saying, “This isn’t even what we talked about fixing.” While the cost is much higher than anticipated, the council doubted the need for the improvements to the windows as the Mitson House is not air conditioned nor open in the winter, so improving energy efficiency isn’t a top concern. Nordsving suggested inviting a few members of the historical society to the August meeting to discuss the matter further.
Public Works Director Jon Nordsving reported that he is working with the city engineers to apply for a grant that would help cover the costs of completing a lead and copper survey of the city of Canton. “Engineers can assist cities and WHKS is working with us to complete the grant application to help with the survey,” he said. “It’s pretty in-depth about lead and copper use in residence and shared lines.” The survey needs to be completed by October 2024.
Nordsving also recommended adopting an ordinance that requires homeowners to disclose lead and copper presence in residences should they be sold.
Councilman Randy Gossman complimented Nordsving and Jim Davis on the work done to improve the bus garage. “It does look good,” he said.
In another ordinance-related matter, the council approved the changes to Ordinance Section 71.09 discussed at the June meeting. The change would prohibit parking of recreational vehicles in front of a home for more than 48 hours unless it was parked on a designated or well-defined driveway or concrete slab. The council agreed to send the revised ordinance to the city attorney for review before a public hearing was held on the matter.
Fillmore County recently adopted an ordinance requiring those who are selling “low dose” cannabinoid and THC products to have a license. This went into effect on July 1. The city opted to follow the county ordinance, with the county regulating the sale within the city, rather than Canton adopting its own ordinance.
The council approved a request from Jamie Kelly to use the town hall, free of charge, to offer hunter safety classes.
The council approved payment to McCabe Electric from six light bulbs for lights at the ballfield with funds coming from the Wilken fund, set aside for park and rec expenses.
The next Canton City Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 9, at 6 p.m. at the Canton Town Hall.