Before calling the Whalan City Council meeting to order on March 13, public comments were received relative the council’s proposed Short Term Lodging Ordinance. Several persons commented via Zoom meeting and in person. Three letters regarding the 18-page proposed ordinance were received by the council. Approximately 12 Whalan residents attended the meeting.
The consensus among Whalan residents is that the proposed ordinance is too restrictive and that many of the ordinance requirements are already covered by State of Minnesota laws relative to short-term lodging such as Bed and Breakfasts. In addition, the availability of funding to enforce the proposed ordinance was questioned.
Whalan resident Dale Peterson said, “This proposed ordinance is very complicated and has a big city feel to it. Short term rentals are not new to Whalan and this seems alarmist. We already have guidelines in place. There is no short-term bogeyman.
“Whalan is in the midst of revitalizing. People are putting money into their homes and that is positive. Please revisit this proposed ordinance.”
Michael McGrath said, “I have an Airbnb across the river. I agree with the comments opposing this new ordinance. It seems like a solution looking for a problem. Short-term rentals are good business in Whalan and limiting it isn’t a good idea. This proposal is overkill.”
Larry Johnson said, “I had 26 issues with this proposed ordinance but I won’t go into all of them. This is very bloated. It may make sense in Minneapolis or Chicago. This makes it seem like short-term rental people are bad people. I think a two-page ordinance can cover short term rentals.
“Lastly, there is so much division in our country and this proposed ordinance will split our town – and it doesn’t have to. We don’t need to drive a wedge between folks.”
With the public comments complete, Mayor David Hallum called the regular meeting to order at 5:25 p.m. at the Whalan Town Hall. Mayor Hallum led the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition to Mayor Hallum, those present included City Clerk/Treasurer Michele Peterson and Council members Thore Johnson, Sheila Higbee, and Kim Berekvam. Council member Owen Lewis attended via Zoom.
Mayor Hallum read the minutes of the February 13 meeting minutes, which were then approved by the council. Michele Peterson provided a Treasurer’s Report, which was also approved as read.
• General Fund: $41,855.10
• Reimbursement Fund: $5,658.19
• Taste of the Trail Fund: $3,130.55
• Ballfield Fund: $1,135.06
• Beautification Fund: $187.00
• General Capital Projects: $27,427.17
• Electric Fund: $38,915.40
The city’s old mower needs to be replaced. The council decided to get a new motor installed and then take bids to sell the mower. The city will retain the right to refuse inadequate bids.
Minnesota Energy Cooperative contacted the city relative to removing vegetation on city land near the old water tower. MiEnergy will remove the vegetation at no cost to the city. Permission approved.
The council approved changes to Public Utilities Fee Schedule (Ord. 54.06) and Ordinance 30.111 Fee Schedule affecting business licenses and on sale liquor licenses.
The Snow Plowing Policy has also been revised to indicate that plowing will be done when there is at least two inches of snowfall.
With the public input received, and after discussing the proposed ordinance, the council voted to send the proposed ordinance back to the Whalan Zoning Committee for further consideration.
The meeting was adjourned at 6 p.m. The next Whalan City Council meeting will be Monday, April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Whalan Town Hall.
*Note: The article on the February 20 council meeting misstated that the July weekend tournament is for baseball. In fact, it will be a girls fast pitch softball tournament.
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