The Spring Valley city council held a regular council meeting on April 26. Members present included Luan Ruesink, Greg Brooks, John Dols and Mayor Tony Archer. Also attending was City Clerk/Administrator Deb Zimmer. Chris Danielson was absent.
Immediately prior to the regular council meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the city’s consideration of a request to allow archery hunting of deer at a specific area within city limits. The council reviewed a draft of a change to the city ordinance, which would allow archery deer hunting on a certain parcel of land zoned Agricultural, within city limits.
Luann Ruesink stated, “I’m 100% against it. I do not think it’s a wise decision for our city… I think there’s too many chances for liability and for the possibility of what could be catastrophic outcomes… I don’t want to have to put blaze orange on my grandkids from September to January anytime I let them play outside.”
Greg Brooks spoke up, saying, “I originally stood up for this. After doing research, I firmly believe that the city should not move forward with this. I believe it would be too much of a liability.”
The council then heard from roughly 10 citizens who shared their feelings for or against the draft ordinance. Some voiced concerns that if the city were to allow this, it could lead to more areas within the city being opened to archery hunting, such as areas near the trails and parks. Others spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it is needed to control the growing population of deer in the city. There was also discussion of Chronic Wasting Disease, and the impact of deer being clustered together in the city.
Mike Hadland stated, “I don’t like it. I live in town for a reason…” He also brought up his concern that if deer hunting happens within city limits, there could be deer that end up dying in someone’s backyard.
It was pointed out that several southeast Minnesota cities, including Rushford, Preston and Rochester, have similar ordinances that allow for archery hunting of deer within certain specific areas inside city limits. It was also shared that these cities usually have strict guidelines on the number of hunters, and some system to determine who can hunt in this way.
Sheriff John DeGeorge was asked if he wished to comment. He said since he doesn’t live in Spring Valley, “I won’t try to speak as a citizen or as a taxpayer here in the city,” but he encouraged citizens and the council to look at how other cities have handled this issue, and how well or poorly it has worked in those places. He then added, “I’m not going to stand here and tell you what I think you should do… because that’s up to the city. What I will tell you as your public safety provider, we will enforce whatever ordinances that you guys decide to have.” He also gave kudos to everyone in attendance for having an orderly discussion and sharing ideas respectfully from both sides of the issue.
After closing the public hearing and opening the regular council meeting, Mayor Archer brought up the issue before the council for a possible decision. Luann Ruesink made a motion to deny the request for a change in the city’s ordinance to allow archery deer hunting within city limits. The council passed the motion. Ruesink then addressed the citizens in attendance, saying, “If this is a nuisance animal issue, and that’s the main point of wanting the ordinance changed, residents should contact City Hall about your nuisance animal.” She said the city then would contact the DNR if/when needed to remove any excess or nuisance animals safely, per DNR practices.
The council heard a presentation from Sheriff DeGeorge about the county jail needs study that is being done to determine the best option for what Fillmore County should do regarding the outdated jail facility currently in use in Preston. County Commissioners Mitch Lentz and Larry Hindt were also in attendance to answer questions. DeGeorge explained that the current jail no longer meets Department of Corrections (DOC) guidelines, and the county needs to determine whether or not to rebuild/upgrade the jail facility (and to what extent), or to simply allow it to close, and then “outsource” all of the county’s jailing needs to other counties. He shared some pros and cons for each alternative, and said the study will determine which option is best, and the commissioners will then likely make a final decision some time this summer. DeGeorge also added that his presentation is available for anyone who wishes to view it on YouTube, by using keywords “Fillmore County Jail Study.”
Mitch Lentz stated, “Everything coming to the county board, it’s all data driven.” He added that the process needs to move forward steadily because, “The DOC considers us working with them now. If we start dragging our feet and deferring decisions, they’ll shut us down very quickly.”
The council approved temporary liquor license and street closure as requested, as part of the upcoming SV 100 bike race. Mayor Archer presented a certificate from the State of Minnesota, to the city’s wastewater treatment staff, in recognition of their good work in meeting the state’s guidelines. Aaron Hamersma accepted it on behalf of his crew. The next regular meeting will be Monday, May 10 at 6pm, at the community center. The public is welcome.