The Canton City Council discussed several issues at its meeting last Wednesday, May 10, including a review of the city’s ordinances and whether or not the city should conduct property inspections.
At a previous meeting, the council had been asked to review the ordinances that pertained to the committees on which they served. Jason Magnuson came back to the May meeting with suggestions to improve wording and relevance in the traffic code and sections on parking restrictions.
Magnuson argued that some of the restrictions – such as leaving vehicles parked on streets for extended periods of time – may not be applicable for a community the size of Canton. He argued that some residents do not have driveways or other options for parking or limited space for parking multiple cars and must utilize the streets for parking vehicles.
Another example he noted was restricting parking of trucks, trailers, boats, recreational vehicles or other such vehicles in the front yards. Again, he felt the city could accommodate the needs of residents in this matter and noted that parking in the yards may be better than parking on the street.
The traffic codes also prohibit U-turns “on any street in the business district or at any intersection where traffic is regulated by a traffic control signal.” Magnuson joked that he had lived in Canton for a long time and was still unaware of where the traffic signal was located.
While he admitted that he may have been a bit “nit picky” with the wording, he thought things could be clarified and adapted to fit Canton and the size of the community more accurately and practically. “I think we just need to update the language a bit,” he said.
Kristy Ziegler had looked through the utility ordinances, which she felt were “probably what we need” and did not see any areas she felt were in need of change.
Mayor Josh Nordsving has been reviewing the planning and zoning ordinances throughout the last few months and agreed that there may also be areas there where wording could be updated and clarified. “We want to make sure things line up between our general code and our zoning,” he added.
The council members were instructed to continue to look through their respective ordinances and come back next month with suggestions for wording for council review. Once the suggestions are implemented, the council will adopt the changes as one action.
In a related matter, City Clerk Anne Koliha asked the council when it would like the annual property inspections to take place or, she asked, “Do you want to do them?”
“In my opinion, no,” replied Magnuson.
Ziegler agreed with some caution. “Some of the stuff gets to be a little nit picky,” she said. “And we have to make sure we are consistent and that we treat everyone the same.”
Magnuson felt that there is a difference between what has become an obvious issue and what could be found during the property inspections. “In my opinion, let’s not go looking for trouble and creating complaints with the citizens in town,” he added. “I don’t think the city should drive around searching for violations.”
Jen Dowling voiced a small concern that without property inspections, property owners may just allow weeds or other junk to accumulate to the point where it becomes out of control.
Ziegler asked a more pointed question, “Which things are getting out of hand? Is it weeds? Is it rusty iron, junk, appliances, car tires? Is it stale water and mosquitoes? What are the worst things out there that should be looked into more instead of searching for every little tiny thing?”
Nordsving also mentioned this process should be ongoing and “repeat offenders” should be making progress regarding keeping their properties neat and in compliance with nuisance ordinances. He suggested if someone notices a problem area, or receives a complaint from a neighbor, the city could send a letter at any time.
The council directed city staff to put a notice into the upcoming utility bill, reminding residents to keep their properties free of debris and weeds. It also decided to skip the designated property inspection for this year.
“At some point, it comes down to residents taking pride in their own lawns,” Nordsving added.
In his mayoral report, Nordsving noted that he has received several comments from parents regarding the location of the city park. He said many don’t like taking their kids there because it is located right on Main Street and the traffic can be heavy at times. He noted if the city were to move the park to another property, the park land could be utilized to build a new firehall, with the city taking over the current firehall as a city shed. This is not currently a proposed plan, but just some ideas being shared within the community, he clarified.
In the deputy clerk report, Barb Kerns reported about 30 of the people who licensed their pets in 2022 have not renewed their pet licenses for 2023. She reminded pet owners it is a violation of the city ordinances not to have their pet licensed. The cost for a license is now $15.
Kerns also noted it is time to get golf cart permits, which are $10 until July 31, and are required if operating a golf cart within city limits.
In the clerk’s report, Koliha told the council the Wilken CD had been renewed for 18 months at 1.7%, which is an increase over what the interest rate had been prior.
She also noted she has been working on updating the employee handbook and reviewing ordinances as well.
Koliha mentioned the need to update the stove and oven at the town hall as people do want to use them for events and the current equipment is outdated and does not work properly. Nordsving also mentioned he had heard complaints that it had been smoky in the town hall during the recent pancake breakfast, also indicating a need to replace the exhaust system in the kitchen.
The Canton American Legion request for work on the ballfield has been paused for the time as they have decided to get a dump truck of sand and see if that helps the field conditions to get through this year. If future tournaments are planned and this year’s programs continue, they may revisit the request.
The city also approved giving the Legion more land in the downtown location of the veterans memorial, allowing the Legion to expand and add elements to the current structures and memorial pavers.
The city approved a $2,220 contribution to the Mabel-Canton summer recreation program with the American Legion also contributing $1,200. This allows Canton residents to sign up at a discounted rate and ensures that the program uniforms will say both Mabel and Canton. This contribution helps cover the costs of staffing and coaching. Transportation to practices and games is the responsibility of the families.
The city also approved the inclusion of the Canton Community Association (CCA) on city insurance, which will allow special events to be covered. If the premiums increase, Koliha explained the difference would be covered by the CCA.
A recycling pickup day is being considered for June, which would allow residents to set out recyclable items, scrap metal and old appliances. Once the date is set, residents will be notified about acceptable items to be collected and the time frame in which items need to be set on the curb. Dave Caldwell will be doing the pickup and will not charge a fee, but would accept a freewill donation.
The council approved the purchase of paint and supplies to paint the kitchen and bathroom at the Mitson House as well as installation of a sign for the front lawn. Caulking will also be applied to the upstairs door to fix a possible moisture problems.
A land use permit was approved for Robert Schmidt to build a deck.
The council revisited a lean-to storage shed constructed on the Lindsey Poppe property. It was noted that the shed was built with no permit and there are questions regarding proper setbacks. The city will contact Poppe and arrange a public hearing for a variance should a permit be obtained and she applies for a variance. If a permit is not obtained, Nordsving noted the structure would have to be removed.
The next meeting for the Canton City Council will be held on Wednesday, June 14, at 6 p.m. at the Canton Town Hall.