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October 27, 2021

9/17/2021 12:51:00 PM
Center City Council tables First Street vacate; hears light pollution complaints, adopts levy

Center City Council tackled a number of items last week as thunder shook city hall last when an unexpected front moved through.  Citizens were making some noise of their own,  asking about everything from too bright lighting at the mall to opposing the fishing pier location over winter.

On the mall item; council listened as a spokesperson complained about lighting at the mall and how they are unable to even enjoy watching the moon over the water anymore.  The mall owner should be asked to do something about lights that don’t turn off until after midnight and are directed so they glare at residents on Calendar Isle, on the lake. The new lights are beyond bright, the residents said.  Mayor Behnke, who resides on the south side of Highway 8, in the other direction, agreed the mall “needs to tune it down.”

The city will discuss options for resolving issues with lighting and report back at a future meeting.

The city fishing pier is floated every fall from downtown,  to the bay near the middle school.  But last year it was an unwelcome intrusion.  Luann Frankenberg said she doesn’t want it in her viewshed and wondered if there is a different spot where the wooden dock could overwinter.

Public Works Director Eric Garner said it needs to be in a protected bay so the ice breakup doesn’t crush the structure.  It’s been stored by the public access for decades.  The problem is that “...wherever we put it it’s going to impact somebody,” he added.

It was clarified the sheriff water patrol no longer is involved because moving the huge dock was damaging water patrol boats.  Garner hired a seasonal service last year.

Citizens were told council and staff would discuss pier storage and look for alternatives.

In other agenda items: The request to vacate street right of way so a citizen can parcel-off lakeshore lots for sale, was tabled.  

The city council feels that the DNR concerns haven’t been addressed and that Center City is giving up more than the applicant is in this case. Council wanted more square feet to be set-aside for the public to access South Center Lake.  
Vacating the street right of way that currently leads directly to the lake and accepting the applicant’s offer of a 10 foot wide strip, would inhibit potential public uses.

Council member Mark Wolcott said the city might want to use right of way for a rain garden for stormwater management,  or citizens will want to drop a kayak or canoe there.  The issue is the city is being asked to give 50 or 60 feet away (Lake Street right of way) and it should get something equivalent in return.

Owner Pam Niemezycki and the city will go back to the negotiating table and try to resolve the concerns.  This vacation action could be back in October.

~ A preliminary layout for redeveloping the Go Boat Motel site was approved.  The developers want seven lots for three double townhomes and a stand alone dwelling.  

With unanimous support for the concept, council directed agent Chris DuBose to continue working with  MnDOT and the DNR on final site plans and engineering.  DuBose said the state hydrologist has expressed some early support for working on a layout for the townhomes,  and the highway side of the parcels are at the state Highway 8 right of way limit.
~ A proposed garage needing variances from city code was approved for 132 Summit. The project will exceed impervious coverage standards, it needs a smaller rear yard setback than normal and other siting considerations, plus staff gave a caution to make certain the city’s Center Ave. utility valve doesn’t get covered when the garage is built.

~ A fee schedule was enacted for 2022 and it will increase sewer and water charges by $24 a year with a new $6 quarterly water technology fee, effective as of this October billing cycle.  

Council also adopted new animal ordinance wording to allow for the dog training business at the mall to have more than three dogs on the premises.

The food truck (mobile food) fee/ordinance was also enacted.

~ A party interested in buying property for sale at County Roads 9 and 12 asked about allowable uses.  Bruce Hanson is a wholesaler and he is in search of storage space for his vehicles. He said there will be no car sales or display at this property.  Lack of sewer and water is being analyzed and may have to be extended to the parcel if the use is deemed intensive.

The former business there has moved to a commercial site in Chisago City.

~ The contract for sheriff patrol services was signed at a slight increase. The hourly deputy rate will be $61.99 in 2022 compared to $61.24.

The 2022 levy (see full budget story August 19) was adopted 5-0 at $326,000. For 2021 it is $316,000.  

This is a preliminary levy and the public will have a chance to comment before the final is voted on in December.  Notices of “Truth in Taxation” hearings will be mailed.  Your property taxes are calculated from these preliminary levy numbers, which can be reduced but may not be made greater in the December finalization.

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