12/6/2018 5:15:00 PM Solar farm halt to be considered while code reviewed
The Chisago City Council is considering placing a halt on solar community energy installations.
At the urging of Council members Jeremy Dresel and Mark Anderson last week there was discussion about concerns with the proliferation of the energy systems, especially in regards to financing and the decommissioning conditions.
Dresel said, “I’m not opposed to solar farms but seeing the influx of projects recently I just feel it might be prudent to take a little pause and get an update from the (city) planning commission just to make sure that we are doing the right thing.”
Council member Dresel moved to direct city staff to conduct a study for the proposes of amending the existing ordinance and to prepare an interim ordinance which includes imposing a moratorium. The interim ordinance will be considered at the next council meeting. Adopting the interim ordinance would start the clock on a moratorium on new solar gardens, which would remain in place until such time as a new regulations and wording are drafted and approved.
Solar garden developers in the audience opposed a moratorium, saying the present ordinance could be reviewed without a moratorium.
Representatives from Novel Energy Solutions said they were concerned that a moratorium could delay pending developments by several months.
Mayor Gustafson said it wasn’t the council’s intention to create a lengthy moratorium but rather to draft new wording in one or two months.
Council also heard a plea from property owner Mark R. Nielsen, who asked the council to consider the possibility of establishing a regulated, short-term rental program in Chisago City. Nielsen cited research done by the City of Burnsville before permitting short-term rentals in that city and developing an application process to allow property owners to set up short-term rentals (marketed on the Internet) in their homes.
Mayor Bob Gustafson told Nielsen, “Our zoning does not allow this. It’s not as simple a thing as the council making a decision up here.”
“What would be the next step?” Nielsen asked.
“We would have to decide if we would pursue a zoning change,” Gustafson replied, adding, “We would have to give direction to the planning commission. Then they would come back to us with a proposal. We would hold public hearings and then the council would vote.”
Council member Dresel said that Nielsen had previously appeared before the city planning commission to ask about the short-term rental process. “He wanted to do it right; he wants to be a good neighbor,” Dresel said.
“Nobody at the planning commission was really against it,” Dresel said, adding, “There were just questions about it. I’ve used Air B&Bs in the past and had no problem with it.”
Mayor Gustafson remained concerned about “renting to strangers,” saying the city had heard complaints from neighbors about “cars with different license plates” being seen at the Nielsen residence.
The council took no action on Nielsen’s request.
- Council voted unanimously to grant a staff request allowing city offices to be closed on Dec. 24.
~ At a special meeting held Oct. 30, with a quorum of Mayor Gustafson and Council members Marie Rivers and Mark Anderson present, the bid for a new lift station for the new Lakeside Elementary School was awarded to Dresel Contracting Inc. Bid was for $359,165.42 plus one alternate of $5,160. Nine bids were received.
~ The 2019 final levy and budget were adopted, at a slight decrease from the preliminary sum set this fall. The action set the final levy at $2,663,381. The preliminary working number for the 2019 levy in September was $2,682,193.
~ Delinquent utilities were certified to taxes for next year. There are $16,810 in unpaid late sewer and water bills on 34 parcels. Bills over $300 and which have had no payments in four quarters go on the list.
~ 2019 Liquor and Tobacco sales licenses were approved for 11 outlets with no significant issues on any being reported by law enforcement.