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MINUTES    –   MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING   –   JANUARY 27, 2015

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 27th day of January, 2015, by Mayor Giese in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior   Citizens/Community Center.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Council member Wohlers, Miller, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch, Police Chief Tiegs and City Attorney Jordan.  Council member Solvie arrived at 5:16 p.m.  City Engineer Fier arrived at 5:17 p.m.

CITIZEN’S COMMENTS:  Mary Elizabeth Bezanson, 207 East 8th Street, stated she is tired of shoveling.  Bezanson has shoveled her house, her neighbor’s properties and she has even shoveled the area by the gazebo at the library twice.  Bezanson stated she would like to know what the consequences are for people who refuse to shovel their sidewalks.   

City Manager Hill indicated the city hasn't issued any additional fines other than clearing several sidewalks and charging the cost back to the property owners.  Council member Storck suggested putting those that don’t shovel on a list and having somebody do it every time it snows. 

Bezanson noted she is particularly interested in keeping East 7th Street clear for the University students.  Bezanson also pointed out there is a downtown business that doesn’t want to clear their sidewalk.  Bezanson stated as a citizen she has grown weary of this and if the city doesn’t enforce it this year no one will believe the city ever will. 

Bezanson also asked the council to think about a replacement sidewalk program for those that are defective or dangerous. Hill explained that sidewalks have been taken out of improvement projects because it throws the assessment process out of whack and drives the cost up.  Hill stated a sidewalk survey was done and now the city knows where all the good and bad ones are.  Hill stated the next step is to do a sidewalk project where the city would approach property owners and ask them to either replace their sidewalks or allow the city to do it, with the cost being assessed back to the property owner.  The city would focus on the main routes first and East 7th Street and California could be part of that. 

City Engineer Fier stated the city has done sidewalk programs in the past by hiring a contractor to offer sidewalk replacement or repairs for homeowners at a reasonable cost.   The city pays the contractor and then assesses the property owner so the contractor is assured of getting paid.   

Bezanson stated she wants Morris to be walkable.  Bezanson stated Morris is a lovely community but it can be dangerous and she appreciates any effort the city is making to improve the sidewalks. 

Council member Wohlers asked whose responsibility it is if someone trips on a sidewalk.  Hill stated it is the homeowners.  Wohlers stated he works with Dan Halstead from 114 West 9th.   The city replaced a section of sidewalk in front of his house during the project and there is a chunk that has lifted up.  Fier indicated that project is still under warranty and he would be taking a walk around for any repairs that need to be made before the warranty expires. 

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES1/27/15 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to approve the 1/27/15 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

1/27/15 Condensed Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approved the 1/27/15 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

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

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      Application for Exempt Permit – Pheasants Forever

         C.      Library Board Minutes, 1/14/15

         D.      Gambling Reports

Motion carried.

ADDITION TO AGENDA:  Mayor Giese added to the agenda a Resolution Accepting a State of Minnesota Park Legacy Grant and Approving the Grant Agreement and a letter from Mediacom. 

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONSReappointment to Boards and Commissions:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Wohlers, to reappoint the members to the boards and commissions as listed.  Motion carried.

1/21/15 Tourism Board Minutes:  Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to accept the 1/21/15 tourism board minutes.  Motion carried.

Welcome to Morris Signs:  Hill explained that the original design for signs had some business panels for advertising on them.  Hill then found out from MN DOT that anytime a sign is put in MN DOT’s right of way you are not allowed to advertise.  The idea for these signs initially came from Superior/Westmor as a recommendation to beautify Morris.  Hill stated the five signs will cost $80,000 and he is recommending that $20,000 of lodging tax money be used for the signs.  If approved, it will go back to Superior and they will decide if they want to fund the remainder. 

Wohlers expressed concern that he would like to see some type of lights so the signs are visible at night and to get the full benefit since they’re going to cost $80,000.  Miller stated the signs give a feel for what the town looks like and he thinks the proposed signs look nice.  Wohlers added that with all the new things going on in town it’s the perfect time to do this.

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to authorize using $20,000 of lodging tax money for Welcome to Morris signs.  Motion carried. 

 

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONSResolution Opposing the Imposition of Levy Limits:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Storck to adopt Resolution #3286-1-15, Resolution Opposing the Imposition of Levy Limits.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Approving a Consulting Agreement with Eutectics for Developing the “Morris Model” Clean Energy Hub:  Hill stated UMM has already given the city a check for $5,000 because they want to see this get started.  There is $20,000 worth of work this company is going to do.  The city would guarantee the rest of this gets paid.  The local Stevens County Foundation met and they made a recommendation and sent it on to the West Central Initiative Fund.  There will be research done by professors and students through the Center for Small Towns which would be allocated through this project. 

Hill recommended that the council approve the agreement, accept the $5,000 from UMM and hopefully the city will hear soon what is going on with the WCIF and the local foundation.  Hill noted the biggest part of this is that it is going to provide the technical resource to businesses and individuals in this community so they can start using solar power. 

Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3287-1-15, Resolution Approving a Consulting Agreement with Eutectics for Developing the “Morris Model” Clean Energy Hub.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Adopting Assessment for Current Services:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3288-1-15, Resolution Adopting Assessment for Current Services.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Accepting a State of Minnesota Park Legacy Grant and Approving the Grant Agreement:  Hill indicated June of 2017 is the end date for the grant so the work would be done in the fall of this year or spring of next year.  The grant is for $119,000 with the total cost of the project estimated at $150,000.  The city’s share is $30,000 and that has been included in the 2015 budget. 

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to adopt Resolution #3289-1-15, Resolution Accepting a State of Minnesota Park Legacy Grant and Approving the Grant Agreement.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONSCity Manager Newsletter:  Hill stated he and Engineer Fier met with MN DOT on the Atlantic Avenue project.  MN DOT plans to hold a meeting with downtown businesses on February 10th at 7:00 p.m. This project will not involve any costs to property owners.  The anticipated start date is April 27th

Fier explained that the ADA side slope criteria has changed so all sidewalks will be replaced.  There will also be a mill and overlay for main street.  Fier stated this is a rehab test project of MN DOT’s.  Hill stated the city will have to pay a little on the parking lanes but not any of the curb or sidewalk.  MN DOT plans to coordinate with local people and try to keep the businesses open as much as they can. 

Fier explained that all the intersections will be redone to be disability compliant.  Hill added that this is part of a bigger project that goes all the way to Donnelly and Herman and then Wendell. 

Fier noted the penalties for them not finishing on time are huge.  Fier added they will work around the trees and put in smaller grates. 

Storck suggested the city take care of snow removal for the downtown area and charge the business owners.  Hill noted that Alexandria started doing that.  Hill will contact them and get some information.   

With regard to the school property, Hill stated they are working on a master plan and the assisted living facility might be the first piece.  As soon as it is ready they will have to come in and have it platted.  Hill noted it is in a TIF district so the first step would be to give a deposit to the city for the city’s consultants to draw up paperwork similar to what was done for Dripps and Heartland.    

There was discussion about the flow of traffic with the new bump outs on the downtown project.  Tiegs stated his concern is the semi traffic and the fact that they already have troubling turning and the road will be even narrower.  Fier pointed out he and Hill talked to MN DOT at length and tried to talk them out of the bump outs but it is their road and they’re going ahead with it.  Fier noted the stoplights will be timed with the railroad so if there's a train the light will remain green. 

NEW BUSINESS:  None

OLD BUSINESS:  None

INFORMATIONAL ITEMSMediacom Letter:  The local office will be closing as of February 16th

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:10 p.m.

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