Ellendale City Council

Contributing Writer

At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Ellendale city council, there was a member of the community present who has done research as to the possible limits according to city ordinance for an expanded garage on his property. Having presented the council with maps, delineating his plans, he wanted to know the proceedings for submitting a variance request. According to the council, there must be a meeting with the members of the community who will be affected – those within 300 feet of the property.

There have been some complaints that Steele County deputies are either watching the Municipal Liquor Store, or following patrons home on their way from the Muni. Likewise, there have been complaints about “prolonged parking” by police officers near the maintenance building. According to Sheriff Lon Thiele, who was present at the meeting, patrons may believe the officers are watching the Muni because of the liquor store’s proximity to the maintenance building, where they stop to use the restroom. He said his biggest concern was that the deputies are not posting themselves in front of the bar. He asked that someone let him know of problems immediately, so that they can be addressed. Complaints about past occurrences can no longer be resolved.

Council members are in the process of adopting a city ordinance that would address problems of disorderly use on rental properties. This would pertain to renters whose conduct has resulted in repetitive calls for police enforcement. The new ordinance would institute three stages of intervention. At the first instance of law enforcement intervention, the renters would receive a warning. At the second instance, the landlord may be cited and fined. Upon the third instance, the landlord’s renting privileges may be revoked for up to one year. The purpose of this ordinance would be to discourage disorderly conduct, and to hold landlords accountable for the people they are renting to.

The Memorial Building was recently tested in order to ascertain the source of a persistent odor. According to Intertek, all the moisture measurements in the building are to be considered normal and acceptable. The company did not identify any significant issues, except that an old green air tank was found to be covered with mold and was removed. They gave a number of additional recommendations to remedy the problem, including a thorough cleaning of all horizontal surfaces including stack chairs and floors. They indicated a faint fungal odor noticeable from the carpeting and recommended cleaning it with a fungicide agent. The company also recommended introducing outside air to the furnace area, which doubles as a storage room, and to clean the debris out of the inside air ducts, which contain gravel and dust. Council members again discussed the old paper smell. It is the opinion of certain council members that introducing fresh air into the furnace room, where the old records are kept, would do much to alleviate the problem. Other measures are also planned, including having the rooms professionally cleaned once per month.

The council discussed the fine for an individual who has declined to remove a fence that is in noncompliance with city ordinance and is in the city right-of-way. Though he paid $100 for a variance application, the council has decided not to grant the variance. The individual has been warned, but stated that he would gladly pay a fine in order to retain the fence. The motion to adopt the resolution to fine the man $100 carried.

A hearing to inform the public of the loss of revenue at the Muni for 2016 was set for Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. The council stressed that this is only a public knowledge hearing to advise the public of the losses, so that they have the opportunity to voice their opinions.

A local board of appeal and equalization meeting was set for Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m.

The city of Ellendale has been approved for a Source Water Protection competitive grant to cap a well, which is a 50/50 matching fund for up to $10,000. The project must be completed within a year.

Community members with passed due utility bills had the opportunity to come to the Nov. 9 city council meeting to voice any concerns over their bills. No such concerns were raised. There was a motion to certify the passed due utility accounts, which carried.

The Samsung tablets that were ordered for city council use have arrived and are nearly ready for use. A motion to purchase an identical tablet for city maintenance use carried, as it would save time and effort in inputting data for such things as reading water meters.

The motion to accept the claims as submitted carried.

A motion to approve the minutes from the Oct. 26 city council meeting carried.

It was reported that the owner of the property east of Casey’s plans to erect a 6,500 square foot office building there which would house an agricultural lending firm, and a crop insurance business, for farmers who have outgrown local banks. The shed that is currently on the property will be removed.

The owner of a property on School St. claims that he did not receive a letter from the city warning him to remove the mattresses and other trash in his yard, in spite of the fact that there was a certified letter signed for. The man, just having come from a veteran’s hospital for cancer treatment, declared himself unable to clean up the yard. The trash will, therefore, be removed for him.

The council discussed the necessity of writing a job description for an assistant position in city maintenance and post it, so that they can begin reviewing applications. The plan is to hire someone by Dec. 1.

It was reported that MnDOT is considering narrowing the street on Hwy. 30 in order to allow for a turn lane. Parking lanes would be 8 feet, driving lanes 12 feet, with a 14 foot center turning lane. Council members expressed the concern that this could result in accidents with drivers clipping side mirrors. Sherriff Thiele said, “Right now you don’t have turn lanes, and it’s working for you.” The point was made that Ellendale does not have heavy enough traffic to necessitate turn lanes, and that a turn lane would make navigation difficult for wide-load farm equipment.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30.