Newport City Council June 17 meeting

Posted 6/23/21

After the Pledge and roll call the agenda was adopted with two changes: City administrator Deb Hill asked that the fence ordinance and block party requests be added to her report. Public comments: …

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Newport City Council June 17 meeting


After the Pledge and roll call the agenda was adopted with two changes: City administrator Deb Hill asked that the fence ordinance and block party requests be added to her report.

Public comments: none The consent agenda was then adopted without changes.

Sheriff’s report: Sargeant Harrell introduced new deputy Keith Shipp. He also announced that his deputies are once again handing out Dairy Queen coupons, good for one free ice cream cone, to kids wearing helmets while out on their bikes. There is an informal competition amongst the deputies. The deputy who has handed out the most coupons by the first day of school gets a Blizzard. He encouraged kids to wear their helmets and be on the lookout for deputies. Kids can receive one coupon per day.

Fire Chief’s report: Chief Steve Wiley announced the hours people can buy Booya tickets and Wagon Load of Cheer tickets at Fire Hall #1 fire fighters will not be going door to door this year. Tickets and commemorative glasses will also be available during the Drive through Booya on July 11th, if any remain. Raffle prizes are $500-$100-$50. The value of the Wagon Load of Cheer is $250 or more as the pedal car is $175.00 itself. Raffle tickets are $1.00. All money raised is used to augment the FD budget. Large ventilation fans and ice and water rescue suits have been past purchases with Booya money.

Captain Todd Tokar then discussed the Fire Relief Association benefit increase request. (Editorial comment: fire fighters are paid an annual amount into a pension plan. This is the main source of financial compensation for their work as a volunteer fire fighter.) The trustees of this pension are requesting an increase from $3700.00 to $4200.00/year. This increase would be effective July 17th provided the council approves the increase.

Mayor Laurie Elliott noted that the council discussed this issue at length at a recent workshop and had all their questions answered. The council approved the increase 3-0 with council member Marvin Taylor, who is on the fire dept., abstaining from the vote.

Engineer’s report: Jon Herdegen introduced partial payment #5 for A1 contractors who are doing the 12th St. and 12th Ave. project. They are busy going through the “checklist” which is the list of all the final details to be completed before a final payment is made. A1 has recently repaired cracked curb and replaced damaged pavement. A couple of service lines have been repaired but the street not repaired yet. Boulevard restoration is continuing. A1 is watering but Jon noted that residents have also been watering and is appreciative of those efforts. The partial payment is $17,631.43. The project is slightly over budget. ($1,854,268.06 vs. the budgeted $1,763,397.24) South Washington Watershed District phosphorus reduction agreement. The plan first drawn up by MSA Engineering did not meet the watershed’s reduction requirement due to the bedrock at the site that made putting in a large enough collection system cost prohibitive. So, they worked out an agreement for an offsite collection system. This system would be 30 feet wide and run the entire length of 17th St. from Cedar Lane to the river. (Between the 2 blue dots) This would be a dry pond that would fit within the existing topography. Few, if any, trees would be removed. Magellan pipelines owns property adjacent to this and the city would need to work with Magellan on this project. Wilson Lines, who just recently paved their entire parking lot, contributed money to this project as a means of satisfying their phosphorus reduction requirement. Jon noted that the agreement with the watershed gives the city 10 years to build this dry pond, but he recommends the city does it sooner rather than later, especially since there is money to do it from Wilson Lines.

Marv noted that 17th St. is used as an informal access to the river. Jon did not feel this dry pond would interfere with this use.

Council voted 4-0 to approve the agreement with the watershed district.

Jon reported on the 3M drinking water trustees meeting. The trustees are currently reviewing all requested projects. They have not indicated yet their position on Newport’s request for a second interconnect with Cottage Grove.

Laurie talked about the importance of the interconnect. One with Woodbury is approved but the one with Cottage Grove is needed for redundancy. If Woodbury’s water becomes polluted with PFAS or there is a system failure, then Newport needs the Cottage Grove backup connection. Providing safe drinking water is “top of my priority list now.”

Public Works report: H& U’s CFO (whose name I did not catch) presented partial payment request #5. H& U is building the new city hall. There was considerable council confusion with partial payment #4 and this gentleman came to clarify the paperwork. H& U bills for all the work and all the purchased materials and then pays all the various subcontractors for their labor and materials. Labor is one contract and materials is a second contract. H& U presents one figure but provides all the paperwork to show the breakdown of what the money is covering. Materials is a second contract so that H& U can use the city’s tax-exempt status to buy materials without paying sales tax. This separation from labor is required by auditors.

Council member Tom Ingemann was adamant that the cover letter contains a summary of costs. Three figures: materials, labor, and total. If details are needed, then that paperwork can be requested.

H& U agreed to that. He reported that the work is on schedule and on budget. The footings are currently curing. The walls will arrive next week. “In a week to 10 days the site will go from a flat site to a building.” He noted that the city, because we went out for bids early in the year, is avoiding the large price increases construction is experiencing.

Assistant superintendent Matt Yokiel then handled the required public hearing on the city’s stormwater pollution protection plan. The city is permitted every 3 years by the state and this hearing and report is part of that permitting process. Basically, the only thing that should go into a storm sewer is rainwater. Everything else, grass, leaves, soapy water from washing the car, fertilizers and pesticides, fluids from vehicle leaks, plastic bottles, etc. are all pollution and the city is required to reduce this pollution through best practices and public education. Matt detailed the electronic records the city uses now to keep track of our 17 ponds and 38 outlets and the required upkeep. He noted that street sweeping is a huge part of pollution prevention, and the city now owns our own street sweeper. This has enabled the city to sweep problem areas on a as needed basis, not just twice per year. He noted that grass clipping blown into the street is a big headache and encouraged people to keep clippings in their yards, instead. While out for walks, please pick up trash collected by the curb outlets. Even just putting it up on the boulevard helps. Please pick up after pets. Reduce fertilizer, pesticide, and salt use. The city is also reducing salt, fertilizer, and pesticide use.

Matt talked about the grit chamber constructed on Cedar Lane by 15th Street that captures storm runoff and funnels into a system of 3 sediment chambers. The sediment settles out of the rainwater allowing cleaned rainwater to then flow to the river. In response to questions from Bill Sumner, Matt said that the system was built in the fall of 2019, consists of three 10 foot in diameter chambers and will be cleaned out of accumulated sediment this year. The city is looking at two more locations for grit chambers: 4th Ave. and 8th St. and Cedar Ave. and 16th St.

Lastly, Matt noted that the city may need to make some ordinance changes to reflect the state’s requirements for best practices.

Council approved the report 4-0.

Administrator’s report: city planner Sherri Buss discussed the issue of sewer connection requirements in the RE (residential estates) zone. This has been looked at extensively by the planning commission and two public hearings held. The issue is the wording in the ordinance. It is ambiguous and inconsistent across two ordinances. With new development being proposed in the bluff area by Bailey Road, this all came to a head. The question is, under what circumstances should the city require a homeowner to connect to city sewer? It was decided that a parcel needs to be adjacent to the right of way that the sewer line is in AND the house needs to be 100 feet or less from the sewer main.

This wording is important. There are properties in Newport where the property line is adjacent to the ROW but the house is over 100 feet away from the sewer main. The cost of running sewer is related to the distance it has to travel so measuring from the sewer main rather than the ROW is a better measurement of the cost. Utilities are not always in the center of the street. Military Road has utilities along its south edge for most of the way. It is possible that a property on the south side would have to connect while a house across the street would not. There are about 15 properties in Newport that are impacted by this ordinance. Laurie asked if those homeowners had received notice of the PC public hearings? Sherri said both hearings were generally noticed meetings (meaning no letters were sent out, just the notice on the city’s website and in the Pioneer Press) Marv expressed the concern with the city’s requirement that an RE parcel, once hooked to city sewer, becomes R1 with much higher development density. He believes Newport should allow for RE areas even if a house connects to sewer. Sherri replied that topography, such as the bluffs in the Bailey Road area, is a reason to exempt a parcel from that requirement. Woodbury’s provision for sewered RE parcels is a example that Newport can follow. But this is a comprehensive plan issue, not an ordinance issue.

Council voted to accept the new wording 4-0.

This was Sherri’s last meeting. She retired awhile back from TKDA but stayed on as a consultant for Newport to finish the comprehensive plan, the bluff land ordinance and the MRCCA ordinance. The council thanked Sherri for her service.

Deb Hill then discussed the fence ordinance. She has received recent requests for permits for vinyl fencing. Vinyl is not listed as one of the permitted materials. The city looked at Woodbury, Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Hastings and found that none of those cities have a list of permitted fencing material. Staff would like the ordinance updated to allow vinyl. We are also one a just a few cities that require a fence permit but given the number of fences that have been found to be on city right of way, staff wants to keep the permit process.

Council decided to allow vinyl fencing. Residents will be issued a permit while the city works through updating the ordinance.

The new city logo was then unveiled. Laurie and council member Kevin Chapdelaine worked with a design consultant to come up with a logo that preserved the steamboat but gave it cleaner lines, made it bigger and added maple leaves. It was the maple trees in Newport that fueled the steamboats. Logos will be changed as new items, such as stationery and business cards, are ordered. Logos on existing equipment will stay the same. New equipment will have the new logo. The dark border is the preferred border. The light border will be used against dark backgrounds.

Block party permits: Deb noted that last summer, with the pandemic, a block party permit was issued to allow for a large party with appropriate social distancing. This summer, a permit for a block party for a child’s birthday party was denied as there was not enough time to notify the neighbors. A second request from another person has since come in. She notes that closing off a street requires public works involvement which can mean overtime pay. She feels parks are a better place to have large parties.

Council will discuss block parties at a workshop meeting and then bring it to a council meeting for a decision.

Deb noted the requestor also wanted fireworks which Deb turned down.

Mayor and council reports: Laurie: asked people to please clear curb outlets when out for a walk.

Tom: none Marv: there are 3 more Wednesday evenings for t-ball at Newport elementary. (No sign up is required. Just show up at 6 pm and play) Roz Johnson: the library is now open Monday and Tuesdays 2-6pm, Wednesdays 2-8pm, Thursdays 2-5pm and Saturdays 12-5pm. No more than 2 households can be inside at the same time, so reservations are suggested. Masks are encouraged. Patriotic crafts are now available for pickup. Just ring the doorbell and SaraMarie will bring out a Lady Liberty or colonial hat for your child to construct. Book donations require an appointment. The library is always looking for volunteers. Library phone number is 651-459-9631.

Meeting adjourned.