By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN The Cokato City Council heard from several residents concerning the ordinance amendment regarding junk or abandoned vehicles and parking at Tuesday’s meeting.
Resident Randy Moe asked the council whether or not the ordinance amendments would mean that he would have to pave his driveway because his camper is parked in front of his house.
The ordinance amendments are not meant to be restrictive, as long as the area around the camper is maintained, said council member Carl Harju.
“The biggest thing with campers is that some are parked on the streets for weeks and months,” said city administrator Don Levens. He continued saying, “As far as personal property, in a perfect world, we would like to have you screen it in, but just having it in your yard, tucked away, is a good thing.”
“Where your camper is now, wouldn’t be a problem, but there are specifications on page seven, section D that go into what type of impervious surface you need to have going into the future,” said council member Wayne Murphy.
The ordinance specifies in section 70.07, paragraph D, section 10 that a recreational vehicle, motorized or not, must be located on a parking area constructed of concrete, asphalt, concrete pavers or brick set in compacted sand, or other impervious or semi-impervious material.
A non-motorized vehicle may be parked on class five decorative rock that is at least 4 inches thick, commercial-grade weed fabric must be installed beneath the rock, edging must be installed to contain the rock, and the area must be maintained to prevent weed growth.
Another resident Charity Leung, asked about the part of the ordinance that addresses driveways and parking areas. Her concern was that her driveway would not meet those requirements.
The council assured her that existing driveways and parking areas would be grandfathered into the ordinance.
Leung noted it might have to be better defined in the ordinance.
Resident Mike Worcester was also concerned about the ordinance regulating parking areas and driveways, specifically where the street right of way line is.
He noted that his house and his neighbor’s house would be really close to the street right of way because of how they sit on the lot.
“Part of the house might be in the street right of way line,” council member Butch Amundson said.
Once again, the council assured him that his property would be grandfathered in.
After hearing from the Cokato residents and discussing the subject further, the council moved to once again set aside the ordinance amendments to be reworked before the next meeting.
The council also decided it would like the planning and zoning committee to look at the ordinance amendments and give its input.
Following the meeting, Levens said that the council and planning and zoning will hold a special workshop to address the issues with the ordinance.
Ordinance regarding vacant buildings
The council read and discussed an ordinance regarding vacant buildings.
This is an issue that has been causing difficulties for awhile, said Levens.
During discussion, the council had concerns about certain sections of the ordinance and decided to set it aside until the meeting.
This ordinance will also be discussed with planning and zoning, said Levens.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved the continued suspension of sewer and water access charges to promote new residential construction and growth within the city.
• heard a report from public works regarding Forsman Farms wastewater treatment permit.
Forsman Farms will no longer be discharging waste into the city’s system, but will haul waste to St. Michael starting this week.
“This is a good thing for both cities. Cokato’s water treatment facility was built in 1994, and is running out of capacity,” said Levens.
Forsman Farms will be building a pre-treatment facility in the next year.
• approved the low bid from Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, WI in the amount of $380,642 for the purchase of a new pumper truck for the Cokato Fire Department.
• briefly discussed the priority list for funding dedication of future franchise fees, such as new storm water management, a new public safety building, library and museum expansion, and park development.
The discussion was set aside until after the election because one of the priorities would be a new public safety building.
A referendum for a new public safety building is on the ballot for the general election Tuesday, Nov. 2.
• heard an update about the sandblasting and painting for the light poles along Highway 12.
The council had approved a bid from B&L Utility Maintenance of Annandale to sandblast and repaint the light poles along Highway 12 at a previous meeting.
B&L is working on the light poles this week.
• approved the extension of the contract with Municipal Development Group, Inc. for economic development authority consulting services.
• heard a demonstration of parliamentary procedure from Dassel-Cokato FFA students who are heading to nationals next week in Indianapolis, IN.