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The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 8th day of September, 2020, by Mayor Giese.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL: Roll call was taken with the following members present: Council members Wohlers, Solvie, Gullickson, Miller and Mayor Giese were present via Zoom. Also present via Zoom was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch, Police Chief Welle and City Attorney Jordan.

ADDITION TO AGENDA: Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to add to the agenda an Application for Exempt Permit for Someplace Safe. Motion carried.

CITIZEN'S COMMENTS: Elizabeth Wefel - Coalition of Greater MN Cities: Wefel was present at the meeting via Zoom. Wefel reviewed with the council what the Coalition has been working on. Wefel indicated Covid 19 shattered the legislative session expectations. When the session first started there was a $1.5 billion surplus and as of now there is a deficit and no bonding bill. Wefel pointed out after Covid started their focus was on the CARES act money, childcare challenges, small business grants and working to protect LGA.

Wefel stated another topic the CGMC is working hard on is PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances). This is a class of chemicals linked to serious health concerns. The Coalition is working to identify the main sources and look at reduction strategies for wastewater and water facilities. This will continue to be a top priority for 2021, along with childcare.

Wefel ended by saying it is too soon to tell if there will be cuts in LGA for next year but their #1 priority is to make sure this year's LGA is paid in full and on time. Wefel noted more would be known about next year when the official forecast is released in November.

Sue Granger – Tree Board Member: Sue Granger was present at the meeting on behalf of the Morris Tree Board. Granger stated 1/3 of Morris' tree canopy is ash trees. Granger stated the effect of the emerald ash borer on the community will be profound when it arrives. Granger indicated the EAB has been found in 23 counties in MN and the way it is traveling is by citizens moving recreational firewood. Granger stressed it is important to keep people from bringing outside firewood into Morris.

The second concern from the Tree Board is for the city to keep up a robust tree planting program. Granger stated there are currently 1,000 empty sites where trees could be planted. The Tree Board did receive a grant for 340 trees. Granger indicated in order to even out the impact on the city budget they are starting to selectively remove some ash trees now. The trees in poor condition and crowded will be the first ones removed. Granger encouraged citizens to plant their own trees as fall is an excellent time to plant so they don't get heat stressed.

Chris Melberg – Morris Floral: Melberg stated he lives in the building in question and feels the building is solid. Melberg indicated he has talked with people and arranged to have the building taken down but it can't be done in 10 days. Melberg pointed out he is not the villain he feels he was portrayed to be in the newspaper. Melberg stated he has tried for 43 years to serve this community faithfully with his business and would like the respect he deserves for being a businessman all these years. Melberg asked the council if they had any ideas for a feasible option for his business that would have a fair amount of space and water.

Mayor Giese apologized on behalf of the city and stated the intent was not to make him look like a villain. Giese stated the city appreciates his business and hoped they could come to some fruition where he is able to continue to work. Giese asked Melberg what kind of timeframe he was looking at. Melberg stated he would need until the first of the year.


READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 8/25/20 Regular Meeting Minutes: Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to approve the 8/25/20 regular meeting minutes. Motion carried.

8/25/20 Condensed Version: Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Solvie, to approve the 8/25/20 condensed version minutes. Motion carried.

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

A. Audit of City Bills

B. August Transit Report

C. 7/15/20 Tree Board Minutes

D. Application for Exempt Permit - Someplace Safe

Motion carried.


ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS: Resolution Accepting an FAA Grant for the Airport Runway 14-32 Extension Phase 1 Project: Hill stated the city received the grant agreement and it would be mailed out tomorrow.

Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Council member Gullickson, to adopt Resolution #3705-9-20 Resolution Accepting an FAA Grant for the Airport Runway 14-32 Extension Phase 1 Project. Upon a roll call vote taken and all presenting voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Approving a Library Heating/Cooling System 3-Year Maintenance Contract with Johnson Controls: Hill explained that the original maintenance agreement was part of the original project and this resolution would approve the ongoing maintenance moving forward.

Gullickson asked if this would be a forever-ongoing maintenance item. Hill noted there is a lot of maintenance that has to happen with this complicated system and the city doesn't have anybody on staff that can do that kind of stuff. Solvie asked if the system saves the city any money. Hill stated he believes it does now that it's up and running and the city isn't spending any money on natural gas for heating and cooling. Hill noted he hasn't had a chance to analyze it but that is something the new sustainability coordinator can review.

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to adopt Resolution #3706-9-20,

Resolution Approving a Library Heating/Cooling System 3-Year Maintenance Contract with Johnson Controls. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: City Manager Newsletter: Hill explained that when talking about the police department at the last meeting it had nothing to do with defunding police. Hill stated nobody lost their job other than the city is not going to be providing a SRO at the school anymore. The current opening is being looked because it is budget time. The city also needs to look at the future of the police civil service commission during a budget worksession. Wohlers stated he feels there is value in having that commission that allows the community to have a voice in the selection.

Hill stated he is working with the county on CARES grant applications and the County Board will make a decision next week to award grants.

Morris Floral Building: Hill pointed out that Chris Melberg was assuming the city had already decided the building needed to come down and that is not the case. Hill noted the city asked him to fix the hole in the roof and asked for permission to come in the building to check the structural integrity.

Miller stated he has no problem giving Melberg time to do what he needs and it's his choice to live there, but when the public goes into a bad building that falls on the city. Miller indicated Melberg seems to think the building is solid and maybe it is but it's rough looking.

Giese pointed out there are two buildings there attached by a greenhouse. Hill noted Melberg is a very good florist and it would be nice if there were another spot that he could get set up in but he also lives at this spot. Hill mentioned talking with Cheryl Kuhn of the SCEIC.

Gullickson stated she appreciated Melberg coming in but expressed concern about whether or not there was a list of things that need to be fixed. Gullickson indicated besides the hole in the roof there are holes in the garage and even though it's not connected to the greenhouse, it is still unsafe. Gullickson questioned whether or not the city has some kind of obligation to keep buildings safe that people walk by or go into. Miller agreed that the building is an eyesore and looks tough for the city's main street. Gullickson noted that it isn't fair to other businesses along main street that have put time into their stores.

City Attorney Jordan stated Melberg has established a line of communication and hopefully the city can go in the building with his consent and get a list of things that need to be done.

Solvie agreed with making the building safe for the community but Melberg does live there and it wasn't the city's intent to make him lose his home. Solvie indicated as long as the city is working with him he has no problem giving him the time but feels Melberg needs to give the city something in return, which is to allow someone to go in and inspect it for a level of safety and things that need to be accomplished.

Jordan pointed out that if someone does go in it will be important to take notes and get pictures of things going forward. It was the consensus of the council that city staff should continue to follow up on this issue and report back to the council at the next meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS: Solvie stated he was contacted by a resident about the area behind Thedin Park and asked if it was technically the city's property. Hill noted he believes it is the city's property but it's heavily restricted on what can happen with it. Solvie pointed out there are a few people that live by it that are concerned about the overgrowth of grass and buckthorn, mosquitos and even coyotes in the area. Solvie suggested the city crew mow it and get it on their list to keep it maintained.

With regard to the Park Board tour, Wohlers stated there was some talk about adding some seasonal sites to PDT campground. Wohlers was informed there is currently a DNR matching grant program out there designed primarily for development of recreational properties. There is a matching grant amount of up to $250,000.

Gullickson asked about the gazebos on the walking path because she has received complaints about their condition. The question arose as to who put the gazebos in years ago and was responsible for maintaining them. Hill will look into it.


ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:41 p.m.`

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