This month’s city council meeting was delayed a couple days, due to the primary election on the normal Tuesday meeting date. The council met on Thursday, Aug. 16, and were greeted by a room full of citizens with a variety of interests in the agenda items. The largest contingent was on hand to support a request for improvements and additions at Prairieview Park—read more below.

First on the agenda was a public hearing to consider a conditional use permit request by Paul Warshauer to allow a first floor apartment in the former General Trading building that he has an interest in purchasing. Warshauer was represented by realtor Matt Mages who told the council that an earlier proposal to split the front portion of the building into commercial space and living space, with both facing the street, had been altered to reflect the Planning and Zoning board’s recommendation that a first floor apartment in that location should be in the back part of the building. Mages said Warshauer would create a coffee shop or similar business in the front, with his own apartment in the back. He said the cash flow of the building precluded Warshauer using one of the upstairs apartments for himself.

The council voted unanimously to not grant the conditional use, citing a reluctance to set precedence of allowing ground floor apartments downtown.

In other Planning and Zoning business the council gave Glen Kotten permission to extend a parking lot he is building next to the Randy’s Family Drug parking lot, five feet into the boulevard. This lines up with the edge of the sidewalk along Randy’s parking lot. The council also granted Randy Armbruster permission to remove and replace his store’s parking lot in the same five foot area of boulevard when he chooses to do the project.

An expected report by the Blight Committee was tabled by Councilor Doug Pelzel. Pelzel reported the committee had elected Sara Hornbrook as Chairperson and Matt Vickery as Secretary; and Matt Ibberson has been hired as enforcement officer.

Councilor Larry Braun made a motion, approved by the council, to conduct the second citizen survey at this time and schedule the third group for January; continuing with a January and July schedule into the future.

The council gave Parks Director Steve Lingen permission to purchase new playground equipment for Eagles Park, for $30,000. Lingen told the council it was an end of season sale that the company extended until the meeting.

Finally, those waiting to discuss softball fields were rewarded when Jim Klein addressed the council on concerns about the south field at Prairieview Park—which remained wet and unusable for most of the summer season—and proposed adding two more diamonds to the complex to accomodate all the youth teams and also draw visitors to the community with tournaments. The council directed the park board and Lingen to move forward with improvement to the south field and asked them to work with Klein and others to create a firm proposal for the two additional fields.

Engineer Dave Palm reported on progress with the application for a Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the 12th Avenue crossing project. Palm said the city will likely be approved for nearly $1 million of the extimated $3.5 million project cost. The council directed Palm to proceed with the application process.

The council approved the purchase of Schieffert property, that they had an option on, north of the Event Center for future possible parking.

Mayor Pelzel then closed the meeting to the public and press in order for the council to confer with legal counsel on threatened litigation from a city employee related to employent with the city. The Minnesota Open Meeting Law allows governing bodies to close a meeting under attorney-client privilege while requiring the governing body to give a particularized statement describing the subject to be discussed.

Reached several days after the meeting, Council President JoAnn Schmidt responded to a question if any update on the situation could be made. She replied, “At this time it is not public data.”

The next regular meeting of the Sleepy Eye City Council is Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.