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The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 8:30 a.m. this 10th day of May, 2011, by Mayor Giese in the auditorium of the Morris Area High School.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Council member   Carrington, Webster, Miller, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Krosschell, Police Chief Beauregard and City Attorney Glasrud.

CITIZEN’S COMMENTS:  Lisa Jacobson was present at the meeting and asked that she be allowed to have chickens in her backyard for the summer.  Jacobson stated that as it stands now in Section 10.12 of the City Code the definition of farm animals not allowed in city limits includes chickens.  Jacobson stated she would like to use the chickens for eggs, compost for her garden and to keep the bugs away.

Hill indicated since it is in the city code the council would have to take action to change it.  Glasrud pointed out it is his understanding that municipalities all over are looking at this issue.  Glasrud stated as the city looks at sustainability issues the question comes up of why it is prohibited and some possibilities are noise and other environmental health issues.

Jacobson stated she has talked with her neighbors and they have no problems with the idea of chickens but she understands the snowball effect it may have.  Hill stated when he discussed Jacobson’s question with the 9th graders the students had brought up issues such as the smell and how the chickens would be controlled.   Council member Webster indicated he would be very willing to have a serious discussion about this.

Peg Rinkenberger asked if this is something that would even be viable for this year, given the amount of time it may take to change the code.  Glasrud explained because this is a zoning issue it would need to be taken up at two different meetings, the Planning Commission and City Council.    

The consensus of the council was that they would like to research the topic. 

Jacobson asked if the definition of Section 10.12 of the code could be looked at to  change the wording to exclude chicken as farm animals without changing the zoning.  Mayor Giese indicated the council would bring the issue back for discussion at their next meeting.

ADDITION TO AGENDA:  Mayor Giese added to the agenda Acceptance of a Seatbelt Enforcement Grant.


READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  4/26/11 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council moved Miller, seconded by Council member Storck, to approve the 4/26/11 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

4/26/11 Condensed Version Minutes:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Webster, to approve the 4/26/11 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

CONSENT AGENDA:  Mayor Giese removed the Audit of City Bills from the consent agenda.  Council member Carrington moved, seconded by Webster, to authorize payment of the City bills dated May 10, 2011.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all voting in favor and Mayor Giese abstaining, motion carried.

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to approve the consent agenda which included the following items:

         A.      Raffle License Report

         B.      April Transit Report

Motion carried.


Mayor Giese appointed Shana Ulrich to the Library Board to replace Pam Solvie, subject to confirmation by the City Manager that it is allowable since she lives in Chokio.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS:  An Ordinance Vacating a Portion of the Utility Easement in Block One of Riley’s Skyview Estates 1st Addition:  City Manager Hill explained this vacation is for Lots 15 and 16 in Block 1 of Riley’s Skyview Addition.  The current owner, Don Sperr, is selling the property and the new owner wants to build a house on both lots, most likely in the middle, and that is where the utility easements run.  The city has to vacate these utilities before any construction can take place.  Glasrud noted there is currently nothing in the easement and no one is using it.

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Webster, to accept this as the first reading of Ordinance No. 87, An Ordinance Vacating a Portion of the Utility Easements in Block One of Riley’s Skyview Estates 1st Addition, and to set the second reading and public hearing for May 24th at 5:20 p.m.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS:  City Manager Report:   Hill reviewed some items happening with the legislature.  The variance bill was passed by the Governor so at the next Planning Commission they can begin working on the backlog of variance requests.  Other items for discussion were drilling of wells in the city, a storm water fee study and the photo ID voting bill.  With regard to the storm water fee, the city has received a request from the railroad that they be exempt from any fees.

Hill stated the liquor store failed a compliance check.  It was the second violation within a year and because of it the store will have to be closed for one day and a fine imposed on the store and the employee who made the violation.  Hill indicated the store has now implemented a policy where anyone, regardless of age, will have to show an ID.  If another violation occurs within two years the store would have to close for a week.

Council member Storck asked why when the first violation occurred the manager got his hands slapped and business continued as usual and this time the employee was terminated.  Hill explained that it is a lot easier to dismiss a part time employee than it is a full time employee.  In the previous violation the manager carded the person but misread the ID.  Storck stated the ID card system should have been put in place after the first offense.  Storck indicated he feels a part time employee who's working two jobs trying to make a living is being picked on. 

Hill stated it was a judgment call and the bottom line is that is cannot happen again.  Hill indicated every single person in the liquor store can’t be given the opportunity to make a mistake.  The policy moving forward will be to terminate anyone who sells to a minor.  Hill explained that part of the new system at the store included cameras and staff was able to go in and review the sale to see what happened and in this case the individual wasn’t even carded.  Storck again stated he didn’t agree that a full time person should get a second chance and a part time one doesn’t.

Hill noted they are having some issues at the liquor store with people who don't have a driver's license or have one from another country.  The City Code states a person can use a passport if it has a photo. 

On a different matter, Hill indicated there was a preconstruction meeting on the East 8th/9th and Arizona Avenue project and weekly informational meetings will be held just like last year’s project. 

Available space on the water tower was discussed and whether or not the tower can handle any more antennas. 

Theater Store Front Grant:  The Morris Theater is working with Mike Haynes of the SCEIC to get a store front grant.  Hill noted this is a loan and more information is needed before this can move forward. 

Electronic Recycling:  The school is not offering the program this year so staff is looking to see if it's something the city can offer.

Seatbelt Enforcement Grant:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to accept the $2,000 Seatbelt Enforcement Grant.  These funds are used for the city’s officers to conduct checks.  Motion carried.

NEW BUSINESS:  Storm water Fee:  With regard to the storm water fee, Mayor Giese wanted to make sure as this process continues the city keep in mind that some places offer a credit for reusing rain water. 

Parking at School:  Storck asked what could be done about cars that are parked in the fire lane at the elementary school and left unattended.  Beauregard explained this is a problem that pops up three or four times a year and Officer Liebl has been working on this the past couple of weeks.  Giese suggested the school make available more short term parking spaces because everything else that's close is filled up with teacher's cars.  Beauregard stated there is a constant battle with enforcement of this issue.

Hill noted there is a small amount of money left in the Safe Routes to School grant that will be used for speed limit signs by the school that tell how fast you're going.  Beauregard informed the council that in order to apply for a second round of grant money you have to complete spending of the first phase. 

OLD BUSINESS:  East 2nd Street:  Fier discussed that there has been some blacktop failure near Tom Hoffman's house and the entrance to the RFC.  Fier wanted to reassure the public that East 2nd Street will get straightened out before the final lift is put on, which will be done around the middle of June.

Fier indicated the city crew has done some serious pruning of trees the last few days, which will hopefully save some of the trees.

Storck noted there are a lot of cracks on the west side project.  Fier indicated he is aware of the problems and the pavement is still within the one year warranty so it would be dealt with. 


ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 9:34 a.m.

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