Newport City Council Summation

Posted 4/27/22

APRIL 21ST CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMATION: After the Pledge and roll call, the agenda was adopted 5-0. Public Comments: Bill Sumner announced that he has found two other places that accept hair …

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Newport City Council Summation


APRIL 21ST CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMATION: After the Pledge and roll call, the agenda was adopted 5-0.

Public Comments: Bill Sumner announced that he has found two other places that accept hair donations other the Lockes for Love for which he is growing out his own hair to donate. He once again announced that the Red Cross is in need of blood donations. He then reported on the 2022 goals and objectives of the Heritage Preservation Commission. (Bill was recently voted in as chair of the HPC) The HPC will sponsor public education with history talks at our library, provide council and staff with preservation education, establish the 3 WPA river overlooks, the Main St. landing and Pioneer Park as Heritage sites and develop management plans for all of Newport’s heritage sites, celebrate the HPC’s 30 year anniversary this year and better document life of Lucy Irish who established the first dairy farm in MN here in Newport in 1851.

Owner of 498 3rd Ave. (I could not catch her name) she had applied last year to erect a 6-foot vinyl fence in her backyard and was denied as vinyl was not an accepted material per ordinance. The ordinance was then revised, and she received her permit. She was unable to erect the fence and now the permit has expired. She applied again, this time for a 6-foot cedar fence and was again denied. Her house is on a corner lot, which the city defines as having two frontages (two front yards) a fence can only be 4 feet tall in a front yard. She would like either the definition of front, side and back yard in the fence ordinance, so people know this when they apply or the language about two frontages removed. Neighboring cities do not have this language.

The council said they would address this issue at a workshop.

Consent agenda approved 5-0.

Sheriff’s report: none Fire Chief’s report: Chief Steve Wiley reported that his dept. was able to donate 15 bunker pants and coats, 7 pairs of boots, 17 pairs of gloves and 8 helmets to the Ukraine via the Oronoco Fire Dept. He thanked firefighters Botke and Lemke for driving the equipment to Oronoco.

Engineer’s report: city engineer Jon Herdegen had no report. Mayor Laurie Elliot asked for an update on the environmental study that was ordered for the old police shooting range. Jon noted that the Phase I report simply confirmed that the site had, indeed, been used as a shooting range. No further analysis would be needed unless the city were to sell the property. Then a Phase II study would need to be done.

Public Works report: Retiring superintendent Bruce Hanson presented the H& U payment request for $491,188.32. He noted that so far $5,971,348.29 has been paid on the new public service building. This is 78% of what is due. He also had a slide show of the new building. (See photos below) In answer to a question from council member Kevin Chapdelaine, Bruce said he would need more cost numbers on all the concrete that was recently poured but not billed for yet to know if we are on budget or not. We are somewhat behind schedule. (Kevin, at the last HPC meeting, reported that the building should be done by late July, early August with a move in date around Labor Day.)

New public works superintendent Matt Yokiel reported that the two changes to the new Pioneer Park playground equipment requested by the Parks Board have been made. The ”photo opportunity” has been changed from a bearded trapper to an animal. (The Parks board felt the trapper was not inclusive enough) and the anchor on the paddle wheel boat has been removed. Cost for the equipment and installation is $319,656.94. This cost might go up some if more rock than expected is found during installation. Council approved this purchase 5-0.

Matt reported that the maintenance operator position (his old position) has been filled. So now he will post the maintenance operator aide position which is now vacant with the promotion of that person to operator.

Street sweeping has begun, and hydrant flushing will start next week. Road restrictions of 3 tons is still on due to the cold, wet spring. If people see large trucks on the road, such as tree service companies which have been out and about, please call 911 and report so the deputies can speak with the driver.

Administrator’s report: assistant city administrator Travis Brierley, reported on the planning commission decision in regard to 910 12th St. This is a corner lot which was once zoned residential then changed to Mixed Use (MX) but was changed back to residential (R1) with the 2040 Comprehensive plan update. The owners, who are renting the house out, requested the property remain MX. The PC discussed the issue and made the recommendation that the property stay R1.

Kevin noted that the owners probably missed the comp plan public notice, so their request came in after the comp plan was finalized. He stated that this corner property is at the gateway to the business district there. Currently that business district is in a state of flux with Imperial Camper moving out and a new business in the wings. It would make some sense that the property be MX but then what about the next 2 R1 properties along 12th St.? He felt it would be best to leave the R1 designation for now while the new plans for the business district take shape. The rest of the council agreed and voted 5-0 to keep the R1 designation.

Next Travis presented the issue of park dedications fees for the Olson property on Century and Military (see photo of map) This property was subdivided last year to allow for 4 houses to be built. The park dedication fee would be $3400 x 4 = $13,600. This fee can be reduced with the donation of land that can be used for parks/recreational amenities. The owner has agreed to donate a 25-foot-wide strip of land along Military for use as a trail. The assessed value of this land is $13,266.15. So, the fee owed would be $373.85.

The council discussed at length whether to accept this strip of land or not. The county has a trail along Military in their masterplan. But when this trail or if this trail would get built is not known. The topography along Military here would make building a trail pricey. The whole area is bound to be developed so it would make sense that the county would want to build a trail along Military. Kevin said the worst-case scenario would be to accept the land in lieu of the money which could be used for other park needs and then not have the trail get built. Laurie agreed that the timeline was important. It was decided that Travis needed to have a more detailed discussion with the county and come back to council with more information.

Laurie then read the Resolution thanking Bruce Hanson for his 44 years of service to the city. Bruce hired on 08-22-1977, first in the parks side of public works and then working his way up to superintendent in 1998. He has worked with 9 mayors, 21 city councils and 7 city administrators. Laurie briefly listed all the many projects in the city that Bruce has sheparded along including the construction of the current public works building, the 494/61 highway redevelopment project, Bailey Meadows, the two warehouses, park development and improvements and now the new public service building. She felt it would be hard to overstate Bruce’s contributions to the city.

The council voted 5-0 to name the public works building the Bruce Hanson Public Works Building. There will be a plaque hung by the entrance noting this. Council reports: Laurie: noted the special council meeting held to approve the fire dept. equipment donation to the Ukraine. She met with HPC officer Robert Vogel to discuss grants and other funding options for HPC projects. They also discussed the 30th anniversary celebration. Our HPC is one of the oldest in the nation. Two of our members, Jo Bailey and Bev Bartl, are the longest serving members in the nation. They have both served all 30 years. Laurie had lunch with the mayor of Woodbury where they discussed 3M drinking water issues. She attended the meeting at Newport Elementary with Senator Karla Bigham, Rep. Keith Franke and parents in regard to the proposal to close Newport Elementary. (For a very thorough discussion of this issue, please see Marvin Taylor – Newport City Council on Facebook. Marv has 8 to 10 posts detailing the district’s $462 million referendum up for a vote this August 9th. If this referendum passes, Newport School will become an early childhood learning center and our kids would be bussed to 3 different schools in Cottage Grove and Woodbury) Marvin Taylor: he was leaving shortly to attend the school board meeting where he expected the referendum to be approved (and then put on the August 9th ballot) He said the fight was not over yet.

Tom Ingemann: no report Roz Johnson: May 2-7th there will be Mother’s Day crafts at the library.

New hours for the library start April 24th. Please see the city’s website. The library now has new library cards which include a barcode for checking out books. This barcoding of books and library cards was made possible through a donation to the library. The library is always looking for new volunteers.

Kevin: he, Laurie, Deb Hill and Bruce went furniture shopping for the new public service building. “We didn’t go crazy” but he was very happy with what they were able to purchase and still stay within budget.

Meeting adjourned.