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City of Cokato requests resident input on ordinance amendment
Sept. 20, 2010
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By Jennifer Kotila
Staff writer

COKATO, MN – The Cokato City Council is seeking input from residents regarding amendments to the ordinance regarding junk, abandoned and unauthorized vehicles, and traffic regulations.

It was decided at last Monday’s meeting that the public should be made aware of the amendments before any action is taken on them.

A draft of the new ordinance was originally presented at the Aug. 17 city council meeting. Since then, corrections to the proposed amendments have been made with suggestions from the council.

The amendments to the ordinance are “more complex because it is commingling a lot of items,” said Cokato City Administrator Don Levens.

If the council has more questions than answers when reviewing the updated version of the ordinance amendments, it may have to defer adopting them until a future meeting of the council, said Levens.

In the August meeting, many of the council members expressed their concern with a 24-hour parking restriction on all city streets not already subject to more restrictive regulation.

The council members suggested that a 24-hour parking restriction would be too short of a time period, especially around Corn Carnival time or holidays when residents may have family visiting from out of town and would need to park on the streets.

In the updated version of the ordinance amendments discussed at last Monday’s meeting, there is a 48-hour parking restriction added. Council members still found this was too short of a time period, however.

Once again, the example of the Corn Carnival came up. Someone visiting from out of town over that period, along with those who work at the Corn Carnival, are parking from Sunday night through Thursday morning, said council member Carl Harju.

Council members suggested a 72- to 96-hour parking limit is more feasible for the residents of Cokato.

Residential parking regulations to be more restrictive

Another area of concern – and one of contention – for council members, are new regulations that apply to all vehicles parking within city residential zones.

There are four additions to the ordinance some council members found too restrictive. These additions are:

• Vehicle parking in the area between the front of the residential structure and the street right of way shall only be on a driveway or designated parking area constructed of concrete, asphalt, concrete pavers, brick set in compacted sand, or other impervious or semi-impervious material.

• No parking or storage shall be allowed in the area between the front of the residential structure and the street right of way line on grass, unimproved areas, or areas without a hard surface.

• Driveways and parking areas shall be at least 5 feet from a side property line, and parking areas shall not be in the street right of way or on other public property.

• The total area between the front of the residential structure and the street right of way line which may be improved for parking or driveway purposes shall not exceed 40 percent of that area.

These regulations would be too restrictive for a number of residents, especially for those who have a smaller lot and more than one vehicle, noted council member Gordy Erickson.

Many residents in Cokato have large households, pointed out council member Butch Amundson. Cokato Mayor Bruce Johnson asked, “Is that our problem, or the property owner’s problem?”

There are ordinances in other cities that limit the number of vehicles per household so the yard does not become a parking lot, noted council member Wayne Murphy.

He suggested the public be made aware of the number of changes being proposed to the ordinance so they can relay their concerns to the council.

Any resident who would like to give input about the ordinance amendments is invited to attend the next city council meeting, set for Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

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