The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday tabled a variance request and a public utility easement vacation requested by Eric and Jessica Mjelde.

The couple wants to build a house and garage addition on their home at 1120 Timbers Drive. This would require both a variance from the required 10-foot side yard setback and a vacation of the utility easement between their property and a city-owned stormwater parcel next door.

Council member Erika Randall moved approval of the variance request for discussion purposes, but she questioned whether a condition recommended by staff is necessary.

City Planner Andrew Mack said it was the city engineer’s recommendation to require the Mjeldes to divert rainwater off the roof of both their existing house and the desired addition.

Specifically, the engineer suggested digging a drainage basin on a corner of the Mjeldes’ property. Mack said there have been issues in the past with excess storm water collecting in a neighbor’s yard, though this was not necessarily due to runoff from the Mjeldes’ property.

City Administrator Ryan Mathisrud suggested that the reasoning for the condition had to do with the increased amount of impervious surface encroaching on the stormwater parcel.

Randall questioned the fairness of holding the Mjeldes responsible for storm water collection in their neighborhood, and asked Jessica Mjelde whether she was willing to wait two weeks for staff to re-evaluate the condition for the council’s consideration. Mjelde said this would be OK.

When the question was called, Randall’s motion to approve the variance failed unanimously.

Randall’s next motion, to refer the matter back to staff, passed unopposed, as did a motion by Council member Liz Stone to table both planning requests for two weeks.

Seed grant application

The council authorized Mack to submit a $2,500 seed grant application to the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams.

Mack said the grant would cover the costs of a 2020 internship project, in cooperation with the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, to conduct an electric vehicle community study and readiness plan.

Randall moved to approve Mack’s resolution authorizing the grant application only, and omitting for now a line item establishing a joint project with the Chamber. The motion passed without dissent.

Payne zoning request

The council also approved the first reading of a zoning amendment requested by property owner Brooke Payne of Hendersonville, Tenn. to rezone 211 Pleasant Ave. from B-2 (general business) to RB (residential-business transition).

According to the staff report presented by Mack, the property contains a vacant multi-family residential four-plex that was damaged in a fire eight years ago. The city’s building official did not condemn the building because the fire damage did not make it structurally hazardous and because it can be rehabilitated to provide rental housing that would benefit the downtown area.

Mack said the parcel’s previous use as multi-family housing was grandfathered when the zoning ordinance was established. Now, however, the zoning needs to be addressed before remodeling can proceed. Of the adjacent properties on all four sides, two are zoned B-2 and two RB.

Randall moved to approve the first reading of the amendment. The motion passed unopposed.

In consent items and general business, the city council:

  • Paid Central Florida Tankees $35,882 for work completed on the 500,000-gallon water tower rehabilitation project.

  • Paid TKDA $3,000 for engineering services regarding the 2018 pavement repairs and apron lighting upgrades at the municipal airport.

  • Approved the low quote of $25,780 from Jason Makela Construction to replace 10 exterior windows and two exterior doors in the Park Rapids Avionics building at the municipal airport, with the tenant to be reimbursed for the project through a rent reduction agreement.

  • Approved having the transfer case on a police cruiser replaced by Park Rapids Ford for $1,724.

  • Approved an amendment of the city ordinance regarding dog, cat and other animal fees. The updated language provides a $150 fee for a dangerous dog appeal hearing.

  • Acknowledged the resignation of volunteer firefighter Sean Evans.

  • Appointed Jim Preston as a volunteer firefighter.

  • Approved a wage adjustment and step increase for part-time Rapids Spirits liquor store clerk Cody Barr, and a wage adjustment for part-time liquor store clerk Betty Norlin.

  • Authorized staff to advertise and interview for up to two part-time Rapids Spirits liquor store clerks.

  • Approved a Public Facilities Use Permit for Jacob DeBlieck with the Park Rapids Water Ski Team to use Pioneer and Depot parks from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 for the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

  • Approved a second-quarter utility sewer credit of $1,159 and a third-quarter credit of $898, for a total credit of $2,058, to Shane Sundet at 403 Central Ave.

  • Approved payables totaling $12,264 and prepaids totaling $108,350.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at city hall.