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The countdown begins for rental landlords in Winsted

February 25, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

The countdown begins with the Winsted City Council's approval of a rental housing ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.

Owners of rental property must apply for permits within 120 days of the ordinance being adopted by the city.

Permits are required for all residential rental units in the city including homes being rented that have a dual entry and facilities.

The permits are valid for five years and cost $50 per rental unit. A re-inspection fee is $35.

There are no “grandfather” provisions in this ordinance.

Paul Pokornowski, owner of A-Plus Apartments in Winsted, was the only person who stepped forward during the public hearing regarding the rental housing ordinance.

He told the council that if there were any changes, additions, or fees to the rental ordinance after it goes into effect, the landlords should be informed and there should be another meeting.

Mareck said, “Any time we change an ordinance, we have to have a public hearing, so we would do the same thing again.”

The city ordinance provides quality and safety controls for landlords which the city will use as a means to improve the quality of life in the community.

“We tried to be sensitive to the owner, but tried to protect the renter,” Council Member Tom Ollig said.

With the ordinance in place, it gives the city some control over complaints that they might possibly receive from renters, Ollig said.

Nuisance roof matter given to city attorney

After months of trying to settle a dispute regarding replacing a nuisance roof at 163 Main Avenue, the Winsted City Council decided, at its Tuesday meeting, to turn the matter over to City Attorney Jody Winters.

At the Nov. 20 meeting, Sam Ulland, owner of the building, admitted that his roof was in disrepair, and even told the council he had the materials to repair his roof.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ulland, again addressed the council. This time he told the council there was nothing wrong with the roof because it does not leak.

This was just another in a long list of circumstances have led the council to doubt that Ulland will ever replace the roof.

Ulland’s neighbor, Greg Gehrman, owner of the Winsted Hardware Store on Main Avenue, told the council, “I think we have seen it to be very clear we can’t ask Sam for his word . . . It is just time to act. We can’t stand by and allow another door to be opened to appeal.”

“These games have gotten very expensive, very wasteful of all of our time and our energy,” Gehrman said. “We need to move forward. I am not here to make a recommendation on how we do that. But we just have to do it.”

Ulland was first notified by letter Oct. 19 that the cedar shingles on the roof of his building were determined a public nuisance.

The city gave Ulland 60 days to remove and replace all of the roofing materials on his building.

Building inspector Rob Beckfeld reported to the city council on at least three occasions since October, that the two-layer cedar roof on Ulland’s building needed to be completely replaced.

Ulland did not replace the roof by the deadline, and at the council’s Jan. 2 meeting, the council agreed unanimously to seek a court order to allow the city to hire someone to replace the roof.

Ulland then filed a suit “with prejudice” against the City of Winsted and its administrator, Brent Mareck.

In a letter dated Jan. 18, the city offered Ulland an extension on his roof repair if he would obtain a building permit from the city and dismiss his case.

Ulland did not respond to the offer by the deadline of Jan. 29.

The council decided to forward the matter to the city attorney because it had considered the potential liability the city may have in selecting a contractor to perform work on the property’s roof (labor, roofing material, liability).

Council approves airport 2008 capital improvement plan

The Winsted Airport Commissioners and members of the Winsted City Council met Feb. 12. At the meeting the commissioners asked city engineers Bolton & Menk to present an updated 2008 capital improvement plan (CIP) for the airport.

Funding for the CIP will come from $150,000, which is annually received for the airport through federal funds.

With the federal funds, it is necessary for the city to provide 5 percent or $7,900 in matching funds.

In addition, the city will need to provide $3,000 for engineering costs for the year.

As part of the 2008 CIP, the following projects will be included:

• lighted windcone at $20,000;

• airport beacon at $55,000;

• reimbursement for 2007 turf runway rehabilitation design at $27,800;

• mini-airport master plan at $55,100 to include an updated airport layout plan. The plan will depict current and future airport development to meet current FAA and MnDOT criteria.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• authorized the reopening of the hiring process for the position of police officer.

• scheduled the annual board of review open book meeting to provide a fair and objective forum for City of Winsted property owners to appeal their valuation or classification for Wednesday, April 16 at 5 p.m. at Winsted City Hall council chambers.

• approved the city’s 2008 property and casualty insurance renewal contract with a $250 deductible per Flagship Insurance’s presentation.

• approved a motion that the city does not want to purchase no-fault sewer back-up insurance coverage in 2008.

• granted a variance to Jim and Janice Brooks of 420 5th St. N. allowing the construction of an attached garage. The primary reason for the variance request is to provide space for a woodworking shop.

The planning commission conducted a public hearing on this matter Feb. 13, and unanimously recommended approval of the variance to the city council.

• heard Mareck report that People Service would take the responsibility to reimburse residents involved in the sewage backup Feb. 10.

According to Mareck, PeopleService contacted everyone involved.

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