By Ryan Gueningsman
LORETTO, MN A large crowd was on hand at the Loretto City Council meeting Tuesday night to discuss zoning issues with the council.
Two public hearings took place at the council meeting, with the first regarding an amendment to the proposed land use map from the Metropolitan Council’s approved 2030 comprehensive plan due to reguiding two properties back to industrial from multi-family residential. This affected two properties in the St. John Street area.
Two residents spoke at the hearing, and discussion took place regarding property line clarification and a clarification of the process.
It was noted this item was discussed at length at the council’s July meeting, and that the council directed the city’s planner to draft this ordinance at that time. The amendment was passed by the council
The second public hearing took place for property rezoning, and eight residents spoke at the hearing. Discussion centered on why the city needs to rezone, types of homes allowed in certain districts, future plans of the Met Council, valuation concerns, density requirements, Medina’s 2030 comprehensive plan and its rezoning, and resale concerns.
It was also noted the Met Council did not assign low income units to Loretto in the 2030 comprehensive plan.
More discussion took place with the council for consideration of retaining the current zoning or changing to the 2030 comprehensive plan, with the council directing city planner Ann Rexine to gather more information to present to the council regarding the rezoning of the affected properties and bring it back to the September meeting. Council Member Clark Lohr opposed this motion.
‘No parking’ sign to be installed on Sunnyridge
The site manager of Hillcrest Apartments had contacted the city council regarding parking concerns, and requested a “no parking” area.
A “no parking” sign will be placed on the west side of Sunnyridge Lane near Hillcrest Apartments to Hillview Lane as determined by Public Works Director Jeff Leuer.
In other parking-related business, it was noted an issue was brought up earlier this year that some residents would like more strict policies/ordinances regarding on-street parking. It was the consensus of the council to work on it over the fall/winter for possible implementation in spring 2010.
County commissioner speaks at meeting
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson introduced himself to the Loretto City Council and those in attendance as the new county commissioner for the area. He said he would be happy to partner with the city on issues worthy of advancing to the county board level.
Johnson said the farther away from the metro area constituents live, the harder it seems to be heard on issues, and he said he would like to remedy that as Loretto’s representative.
Resignation of utility clerk accepted
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council accepted the resignation of Chris Goulet and approved the payment for her remaining two weeks of employment.
The council then hired Kathy Larkin to work 10 hours per week at the starting rate of $11.50 per hour, with no vacation time and no benefits other than Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), beginning Aug. 12. Larkin was hired by the fire department in March as an administrative assistant, as well.
Banner project proposed by group
The Loretto Business Group has expressed interest in sponsoring banners to be placed on 12 or 13 utility poles throughout the city. Presently, the city’s zoning would not allow this, as a business name would be on the bottom portion of the banner.
At the council meeting, Rexine said these banners would be exempt from the sign ordinance because they would be considered “government” as they will be promoting the city. It was noted the council would like to look at a sample and also would also like to have the businesses also cover the cost of the brackets to attach to the poles.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard from Medina Police Chief Ed Belland, who said July was a very active month for the department. It was noted a complaint came from the Loretto Business Group about bicycle riders not obeying the lays. Belland said the police department will address this through education to promote awareness at a local bicycle shop.
Later in the meeting, the council also discussed renewal of the police contract, and the council directed city staff to draft another letter to the Medina Police Department that the council feels the increase is too high, and to offer suggestions on how to lower the proposed contract amount by possibly reducing services.
The council noted it is satisfied with the current staff and services Loretto is receiving from the police department, but the only item of concern was the financial impact.
• noted a plant and well wishes were sent to former city council member Willie Vetsch, who served on the council for 33 years, and is experiencing health complications.
• accepted a donation at the recommendation of the Fun Fest Committee from the Loretto Lions for the purchase of a kiddie train that the city will use for the Fun Fest and for the Holiday Train event.
Discussion also took place on the condition of the train and storage of it.
• approved a resolution accepting donations from area residents and businesses for Fun Fest fireworks.
• extended a parking variance for Barry Anderson, the owner of the Choo Choo Restaurant and Bar. Anderson, also the mayor, excused himself from the meeting during this discussion and vote.
• set Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. for approving the city’s general fund budget. A date needs to be submitted for when the budget hearing will take place.
• discussed an issue with enforcement of covenants, and the city’s attorney noted covenants are controlled by lot owners or an association, and not by the city.
• approved the purchase of a commercial grade sink, not to exceed $1,000, for the park.
• discussed the possibility of working with Hennepin County for a walkway along the right-of-way on the west side of Hennepin County Road 19 from Railway Street West to the railroad tracks.