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home : news : news May 26, 2016

3/28/2013 11:52:00 AM
North Branch Council OK's fire truck purchase

North Branch city council was visibly pleased to be able to take turns making two motions, authorizing action Monday night to purchase a new (used) platform truck. Firefighters have been searching for a deal on a ladder truck for years and have found one for sale in Alabama.

Council voted 4-0, with member Kathy Blomquist absent, to authorize $15,000 to come out of the fire relief fund, $15,000 out of liquor store profits and another approximately $70,000 in borrowing via Equipment Certificates, to bring the 1990 95-foot extension truck to its new home serving North Branch. Volunteers on a truck committee have viewed and tested out the vehicle and pronounced it is what the city has been looking for. Volunteers will also be transporting the fire truck to its new home at the fire hall in the near future.

An application to address standing water issues in the parking lot of Ruby’s Pantry, in the industrial park off Grand Ave., was approved. Council was advised that there’s two ways of approaching this, one of which would be very costly to the food distribution facility. The city council was told by Dave Chimielewski, of Blackhoof Development, that the pricier option, at three times what his client wants to spend, would result in nothing being done. Ruby’s Pantry doesn’t have the money, he added, to do a full curb and gutter urban stormwater retrofit of its gravel lot, he explained.

The application Ruby’s Pantry submitted was for a cheaper correction, using TDA or tire derived aggregate. This is a relatively new concept in stormwater management that the city engineer couldn’t fully support. Diane Hankee told council that as their engineer she had to advise council that the city is responsible for “managing the community” under pollution control and stormwater regulations. She did not come right out and oppose TDA but said it was new and un-proven. Council decided to allow Ruby’s Pantry its desired lower cost “correction” versus a “replacement” for parking lot drainage problems on a 4-0 vote. Mayor Ron Lindquist commented “...the last thing” North Branch wants to do is force a business out of town through excessive project costs and regulations.

In other matters:
~ Tower Liquor got its licenses back after a transfer allowing for a sale of the site was terminated, at the request of the transferee.
~ There’s a public hearing on asphalt plants (in an overlay zoning district) in North Branch being held at the planning commission session April 15. A citizen inquired whether the council was agreeable to adopting a moratorium on asphalt plants; but staff and council agreed this review is going to provide all the oversight and information the city needs on these facilities.
~ The Safe Routes to Schools federal monies for projects done in North Branch are almost spent, and council agreed to authorize engineer Hankee to seek LED signage at #14 and Hemingway Ave. The lighted sign is a departure from federal guidelines so the city has to “justify” the request with authorities before installation.
~ The municipal liquor store annual report was presented by manager Deb Dahlberg. The North Branch muni is off-sale only. Its net in 2012 was $251,880, which council member Joyce Borchardt commented was was a “great turn” in direction from where the store was a few years ago. Dahlberg said two upcoming capital projects are in the budget, a new software package for inventory and new lighting for doors to the cooler. She’d like to do these soon. Wine Club has 106 paid memberships and “Pub Club” for craft beer lovers is off to a good start, Dahlberg said. The promotions provide discounts, classes and other perks.

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