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Action tabled on Nevis rental ordinance

Lacking widespread citizen feedback or a clear direction on what to do, a repeal or revision of the ordinance that passed in 2020 was tabled on May 9.

NevisCouncilApril142022.jpg
The Nevis City Council – clockwise from lower left, Blair Reuther, Sue Gray, Mayor Jeanne Thompson, Teresa Leshovsky and Katie Rittgers – held a workshop April 14, 2022 about the city's controversial rental ordinance.
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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The Nevis City Council on Monday continued discussion of whether to repeal or revise the city’s rental ordinance.

Mayor Jeanne Thompson noted that the apparent options included total repeal or changing the frequency of rental inspections, perhaps from two to three years.

City Administrator Dawn Veit said the building inspector said that if the timing of the issues, once every two years, raises problems for people, he would do the inspections as part of his monthly visits for an additional $25 per month.

Debate between council members followed similar lines to their March 14 and April 14 discussions.

Thompson and council member Sue Gray stressing the need for a way to deal with rental issues. For example, Thompson cited a fire last year at a rental property in Nevis where there were no fire alarms and one of the tenants lived in a room with no egress windows.

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Meanwhile, council member Blair Reuther said the rental ordinance unfairly gives the city “weapons” to use against private citizens, and pointed out the city has a nuisance ordinance addressing many of the same issues.

Thompson voiced concern about taking any action, since the city has heard criticism of the ordinance only from three landlords. She called for a motion regarding the ordinance.

Reuther made a motion to table the issue until the city receives more feedback from the community, and the motion passed unanimously.

Police report

Deputy Josh Oswald reported he talked with a few residents on North Street about ATV compliance and makes regular checks on the school.

Oswald said there was a car wreck May 8 south of town, after which the driver was arrested on alcohol-related charges.

Oswald’s written report listed the following police activity between April 7 and May 4: 3 accidents, 2 alarms, 2 animal calls, 4 arrests, 14 attempts to locate, 1 burglary-theft call, 4 citations, 1 civil process, 3 disturbance-disorderly calls, 7 medical calls, 10 “other,” 5 public assists, 21 traffic stops and 16 business or facility checks.

Public works report

Public Works Supervisor Don Umthun explained the recent milky appearance of city water is due to tiny air bubbles that will eventually clear up.

He said he adjusted the flow rate of the well pumps in an attempt to solve this problem. He said his department is also adjusting chlorine and fluoride flow rates due to complaints about the water’s flavor, and the screen in the well needs to be cleaned of iron build-up.

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Umthun said street sweepers are scheduled to go through town in the next couple weeks. Regarding parks, Umthun said the public restrooms are still frozen.

Fire department report

Acting Fire Chief Josh Winter reported that during the last month, the fire department responded to a structure fire in Akeley, three brush fires and a vehicle crash.

Winter said a relief valve on the main fire engine needed to be repaired, due to leaks that kept the engine from passing pump tests.

Winter said he priced 20 helmet lights. Heiman Fire Equipment’s quote was $2,800; Grand Forks Fire quoted $1,860. Winter recommended the Grand Forks quote, which also has a longer run time. Gray moved to approve the purchase, and it passed unanimously.

Winter asked the council for permission to provide white, Class A uniforms for firefighters to wear during formal events, such as funerals, and also to issue new badges at a cost of about $120-140 each.

He also suggested offering firefighters a $100 promo code out of the department’s apparel budget for purchases from an online store that firefighter Nick Skjonsby set up with personal apparel, such as T-shirts and hoodies, carrying the department’s logo. “Above and beyond that $100, they pay the rest of it,” said Winter.

Thompson urged Winter to bring the council more detailed plans, including pricing.

Winter also reported the fire department recently ordered a new carburetor for the exhaust fan used to pump smoke out of houses. “This fan has been a giant nightmare,” he said, adding he is looking at prices for a new fan.

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On a related topic, Winter asked the council to approve purchasing TruFuel to run in the department’s small engines, including pumps and a four-wheeler. A benefit of the high-octane, ethanol-free fuel is that it has a longer shelf life than standard gas, which gums up inside seldom-used engines.

He said the company was offering special fire department pricing of $428 for the minimum order of five five-gallon jugs. Cheaper than the typical price of $8-9 per pint, this would be enough to last the department three years, he said.

Thompson made a motion to approve the purchase, and the motion passed unanimously.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
Council member Sue Gray suggested main points for posted reminders of state and local law regulating ATV traffic on city streets.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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