Council weighs zoning concerns

The Park Rapids Council discussed their options Tuesday night and approved the second reading of ordinance revisions that are part of the annexation agreement with Henrietta Township.

The Park Rapids Council discussed their options Tuesday night and approved the second reading of ordinance revisions that are part of the annexation agreement with Henrietta Township.

Since the council's first reading May 8, Hubbard County commissioners voted 3-2 against a resolution to give up county zoning jurisdiction in the area, and asked the city and township to consider exempting the radio station from the zoning rules.

This week mayor Nancy Carroll asked the city planner to explain how the proposed ordinance changes affect city zoning.

Although a majority applies to the annexed area, city planner Mike Strodtman said the plan incorporates "housekeeping stuff" the city Planning Commission has worked on. One of the changes would discontinue twinhomes as a permitted use in single-family residential districts. Some areas would also be rezoned to allow twinhomes.

"That's what makes this super difficult," Strodtman said, adding it would be complicated to make the wanted changes independent of the whole.


City administrator Brian Weuve suggested one option for the council would be to hold off to see if commissioners might revisit the issue at their meeting June 6.

A second option would be to adopt the proposed ordinance as a second reading and instruct staff to remove anything that would only apply in the annexed area so some changes could be administered in the city as intended.

"Option two is more expensive," noted city clerk Margie Vik. Changes to city code books cost $18 a page. The city has already had the code printed.

"Our process would start all over," Weuve said, agreeing changes now would be costly.

A third option might be to approve the proposed ordinance contingent on what the county board does and prepare an alternative version so the city can administer the changes it wants within the existing city limits if the county votes no again.

"For the city, the timeline is still the same," said Weuve.

Carroll said the last option would allow the city to proceed faster if commissioners change their vote.

"We're stuck between a rock and a hard spot," said Strodtman. "We don't know how it's going to go. The housekeeping stuff is important, but if it's worth the cost, I don't know."


"If it's approved tonight and the county denies it and we end up in a joint powers agreement, this is probably the ordinance we're going to use," Strodtman pointed out.

"You could just pass the ordnance tonight," said city attorney John Masog, suggesting the city would still be better off in the long run, as Strodtman suggested. He said approval also would show good faith to the township.

"What's the county going to do because they want their subdivision ordinance to have priority?" Masog asked.

The commissioners are involved because state rules require the county to give up any zoning ordinances they have in the annexed area. Since Hubbard County has no countywide zoning and the city, township and county all follow state rules for septic systems, the subdivision ordinance is the only ordinance commissioners need to "give up."

Council member Clyde Zirkle moved to approve the proposed ordinance and the motion passed unanimously.

After the vote, council member Gene Kinkel said Bernie Schumacher from the radio station had called him and asked for a meeting with the city and township to discuss the situation.

Council member Dave Konshok said the county should be included as well.

Carroll said she would rather see staff meet with Schumacher and address her concerns. "They need to learn about building codes and permits," said Carroll, suggesting some of the issues Schumacher and her family raised at the county board meeting were because they don't understand what's involved.


Zirkle agreed with Carroll's suggestion to let staff work with Schumacher.

"She's just one citizen here. Are we going to do this for every citizen in Henrietta Township?" he asked, referring to having a special meeting or a meeting with elected officials from both jurisdictions.

"This could be resolved in an hour from the calls I've gotten and the conversations I've had," said Godfrey.

"I would like to see the staff work on it for awhile," Carroll insisted. "I don't see us moving forward yet and I don't want to get to a place where we piecemeal one property at a time for those who want out of this agreement."

Godfrey said the agreement can be changed by agreement from both parties (the city and township). "We put that provision in there on purpose. The participants are ready to go," he said.

"I don't think I agree with that," said Carroll.

Kinkel said part of his discussion with Schumacher was about their building. "They want to do some building and remodeling and are confused about building codes and what it would cost," he said. "Our building inspector does a good job explaining that."

Konshok insisted that in addition to having staff meet with Schumacher, the council should plan for elected officials to get together with her or the intergovernmental committee, which includes county officials, should meet to discuss it.


"Give staff a chance to do some education," Carroll said, adding she wouldn't want to see anything done without meeting with Henrietta Township first.

"What is staff going to do?" asked Godfrey.

Kinkel said there are misunderstandings. "They (Schumacher and the DeLaHunts) had all the time in the world to attend the meetings, didn't do it and consequently came in with "improper information and the commissioners felt sorry for them.

"I think the meeting (with staff) is to explain what is really happening. The county board was given information to read and none of them had it in front of them and I don't know if they looked at the information they had before the meeting," Kinkel added.

"With the proper information, it will be salvaged," Kinkel said.

"Negotiations are on the table and in an hour, we could have it resolved," said Godfrey.

Kinkel disagreed. "This is the proper way," he said of giving staff a chance to talk to Schumacher first.

In other action Tuesday night, the council:


n Conducted a public hearing to vacate the alley parallel to Main and Pleasant avenues between 7th and 8th streets. The area would become a parking lot in conjunction with the expansion of St. Joseph's Area Health Services and Dakota Clinic.

The council approved the request with conditions recommended by the Planning Commission. They are to retain utility easements and replace the sewer line under the parking lot at the property owner's expense. The line is one of the old tile lines and to replace it after the parking lot has been surfaced would be costly.

Strodtman said the plans require 402 parking spaces for the site. The plans provide 438 parking spaces.

n Again denied a request from Dave and Cheryl Gartner to forgive a portion of their water bill. Dave Gartner told the council they have lived in their home on Monico Lane since 1980 and this was the first winter their sewer line froze.

He explained that for some reason when the sewer line was run past their residence, their service wasn't connected there, but runs through neighbors' yards to a line 400 feet away.

The council urged Gartner to continue to work with city staff and consider connecting to the closer line to prevent problems in the future.

n Approved a request from the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce to waive permit fees for the 4th of July parade, MS Tram Bike Ride use of Red Bridge Park and the Christmas tree lighting. Permits were approved for those events as well as for Crazy Days and the Lakes, Loons and Legends Fest.

At Chamber executive director Katie Magozzi's request, the council also tabled billing related to the wayside rest agreement. Magozzi said an energy audit has been done, but she had just received it and wanted time to review it before going farther.


n Approved a recommendation to abate sewer and water assessments charged to the Allen and Anna Jacobson property at 503 Main Ave. No. contingent on the property being connected to city sewer and water this year.

Godfrey asked how it could have happened that the assessments could have been levied and unpaid for eight years without the system catching the error. He voted against the motion.

n Approved the sale of about $4 million in general obligation improvement bonds.

n Approved an amended lease of water tower space to Northern PCS Services (Sprint). Weuve said the "old" watertower could not support the antenna approved earlier so the business was asking to mount it on the new watertower on the east side, which won't be completed until July 1. In the interim, Northern PCS was asking to put up equipment temporarily at the site of the new watertower so improved coverage could be available during the summer months.

n Approved 36 consent agenda items.

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