The Park Rapids City Council, meeting by teleconference on Tuesday, approved the final plat for the Simonson Third Addition in its consent agenda. This consolidates properties acquired by Bemidji Management Co., LLC, in the first block between Main Ave. North and Park Ave. North, including residences at 109 and 115 Park Ave. N. and 100 feet of recently vacated alley, with the existing Simonson Second Addition for a total area of 2.23 acres.

According to City Planner Andrew Mack’s report in the council’s agenda packet, Developer Arch Simonson intends to demolish the house at 109 Park Ave. N. to improve the site flow and building layout of a planned commercial development, while keeping 115 Park Ave. N. intact as a licensed, non-conforming rental.

Mack noted that Simonson submitted a sample light fixture in response to concerns voiced by the neighboring River Edge Commons Townhome Association about the effect of gas pump canopy lighting on their neighborhood. The fixture is expected to meet the city’s requirements, pending approval of the final site plan before issuing a building permit.

Also, Mack reported, Simonson paid $1,640 in lieu of parkland dedication for the added lots.

After the meeting, Mack told the Enterprise that Simonson has voiced plans to put the project out for bid this spring for construction starting early this summer. Meanwhile, Mack said, demolition of the 109 Park house will proceed following asbestos abatement.

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Short-term rentals

The council also approved the first reading of an amendment to the city’s rental licensing code, creating an annual administrative permit for short-term rentals such as Vrbo and Airbnb.

Mack told the council about an extensive study of how Greater Minnesota cities handle short-term rentals, which he and the city’s planning commission undertook before preparing the amended ordinance.

He stressed that every city does it differently, and the ordinance was not drafted in a rush. Regulating short term rentals was one of the planning priorities identified by the council a year ago at a joint work session with the planning commission.

Because members of the public who wanted to comment on this matter were unable to dial into the teleconference due to a technical glitch, Mack asked that the second reading be placed on the general (not consent) agenda for the council’s next meeting, to allow additional public comment to be taken.

Mack said later that the magnitude of the short-term rental issue is “20 times bigger in the county than the city.”

In consent items and general business, the city council:

  • Authorized city officials to execute the city’s 2020 emergency operation plan.

  • Approved an ordinance amending the fee schedule for airport hangar rentals. The updated fees vary from $1,230 to $3,336 per year, increasing approximately 2.5 percent from last year’s rates.

  • Purchased a new bagger the Public Works Department to use for cleaning city parks for $2,698 from RDO Equipment.

  • Authorized staff to advertise and interview for a temporary seasonal parks employee position, a yearly budgeted item.

  • Scheduled a public hearing to be held by telephone at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 28 about a proposed bond issue by Duluth Economic Development Authority to finance a project by Essentia Health. The company plans to build an approximately 24,000-square-foot, one-story clinic at 1103 1st St. E., formerly the location of Pamida. Together with projects in Duluth, Pine River and Cloquet, Essentia proposes to finance up to $70 million.

  • Recognized utility worker Dean Christofferson for 25 years of employment with the city. Christofferson is a sewer and water licensed operator, responsible for monitoring water quality and making sure the city’s lift stations are working. “He’s exceptional at it,” said City Administrator Ryan Mathisrud.

  • Approved payables totaling $296,086 and prepaids totaling $218,584.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 28.