Sleepy Eye City Council meeting televised.

Before convening the Oct. 11 City Council meeting, Mayor Wayne Pelzel advised those in attendance that the meeting was being televised on the cable access channels and the audio was apparently very sensitive. Reports from some home viewers confirmed that, as they said, “Stop the pen clicking.” (This reporter never before remained silent for so long.)

First on the agenda was City Attorney Alissa Fischer’s report, starting with the second reading of a new blight ordinance that would apply to both residential and commercial property in the city. Fischer told the council that there was an added subdivision in the ordinance stating no motor vehicles can be put or stored on dirt or grass covered areas—a provision that would not apply during snow emergencies. Fischer said this is already the law in Sleepy Eye, but she felt it belonged in the blight ordinance also. The council discussed dumpsters—are they considered blight?—and decided to regulate construction dumpsters only, the ordinance to state they must be removed within five days of expiration of a building permit.

Councilor Dick Zinniel asked what would happen if a property owner cannot afford to make required improvements. EDA Coordinator Kurk Kramer confirmed there are assistance funds available and he has information on how to apply.

At the conclusion of discussion, City Manager Mark Kober said, “You will never eliminate blight. No matter what you do, some people will not take care of their property.” Upon hearing those encouraging words, the council approved the second reading, adopting the ordinance. Fischer said the ordinance will be published in the newspaper and residents who want a copy of the ordinance may request one at the city office.

Fischer also shared a sample backyard composting ordinance, an issue the council had previously discussed in connection with the blight ordinance. The first reading of the composting ordinance was called.

Fischer had one more ordinance for the council’s consideration: an ATV use ordinance. The council had copies of the one New Ulm recently adopted. “I like this,” said Councilor Joanne Schmidt. “People who are currently driving ATVs around town are doing it illegally.” Currently, snowmobiles/ATVs must take a direct route out of town, or to drive on the lake in winter, or to get gas, with a speed limit of 10 mph. The council tabled the issue for further study.

Kober reported on the potential conversion of the former liquor store to Police headquarters. He said he and Chief Andres, the mayor and Larry Braun recently met with architect Eric Oleson who gave them ideas on needed renovations. “We’ll meet with Eric again soon,” said Kober. “The police have the biggest need for this space. Maybe we can be ready to start this spring.”

Engineer Dave Palm told the council he’s been meeting with MnDOT on the 2018 Highway 14 project, including discussing improvements for the intersection at 12th Ave. E. He said MnDOT moved bid letting on the project to March.

Palm explained the city could apply to the state for LRIP funds (Local Road Improvement Program) for the long discussed construction of 12th Ave. E to St. Mary’s St. The council adopted a resolution approving the application.

The First Ave./Main St. intersection was discussed. MnDOT will expand the yellow no parking sections by one car length at each corner to improve visibility; and will move the flashing lights to opposite corners with activation at each corner.

Kober said the city survey is tallied, with comments still being compiled. He said the results are mostly positive, especially for services such as fire, police, ambulance and medical; and as expected, blight stands out among things to work on. Complete results will be released soon.

Kober said he really hates to ask, but requested a reduction in the yellowed no parking section on the highway in front of his new home. Fischer said state statute does not prohibit the city from making a change. Council directed Chief Andres to check the situation, talk to the state, etc. and report back next month.

The next regular meeting of the Sleepy Eye City Council is Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.