LESTER PRAIRIE Scott Qualle, president of MNSPECT, the city’s building inspector, gave the Lester Prairie City Council an update on building permits during its meeting June 12.
Despite the late start to the construction season this year due to weather, remodeling and building projects have picked up.
Qualle said his office has not been this busy since 2006.
City Coordinator/Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Pawelk noted she has heard from builders that it has been taking longer than normal for building permits to be returned, up to three weeks.
Qualle said he has added staff, and his office is working to review permits as quickly as possible.
Councilor Tim Dahl said the city has placed a high priority on development and cannot afford delays in the permit process.
Chickens not welcome
The council heard from Community Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz that staff has reviewed a request from a resident regarding keeping chickens in the city.
Lester Prairie’s current ordinance allows farm animals (including chickens) only in an agricultural zoning district, or on a residential lot of at least 10 acres, provided that no animal shelter shall be located within 300 feet of an adjoining property.
The council voted 4-1 to keep the ordinance as it is (not allowing chickens), with Mayor Eric Angvall and councilors Tim Dahl, Larry Hoof, and Ron Foust in favor, and Councilor Bob Messer opposed. Messer said he would like to continue the discussion to see if it is feasible for the city to allow chickens.
Circus is coming
The council approved a request from the Lester Prairie Lions Club and the Lester Prairie Business Association to host the Culpepper & Merriweather circus Friday, July 27 with performances at 5 and 7:30 p.m. at the City Park along Second Avenue South. There is no cost to the city for allowing this.
The council approved moving forward with a field renovation project in 2nd Avenue Park.
This will improve the playing surface, removing the infield grass and installing sod, and adding irrigation.
Work is scheduled to begin in August.
The first phase of the project, which included adding dugouts, was completed last year.
Funding came from the city, a Minnesota Twins Community Fund grant, Lester Prairie High School Softball Team, Lester Prairie Lions Club, Lester Prairie Legion Baseball Team, Lester Prairie Youth Baseball and Softball Association, and private donations.
Cost for the baseball field renovations is estimated at $18,453.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower has issued 2017 population estimates. The April 1, 2017 population estimate for Lester Prairie is 1,699, and the household estimate is 654.
• approved an automatic mutual aid agreement between the Lester Prairie Fire Department and the Winsted Fire Department. In the event of a structure fire or automobile crash in either fire district, both departments would be paged, reducing response time to get more personnel on the scene. The agreement will also improve fire protection ratings for both cities.
• approved a proposal for removal and replacement of trees at the city cemetery at a cost of $3,894 with Hoof, Angvall, Messer, and Foust in favor, and Dahl opposed. Dahl said he objected because the city worked very hard on its budget, and this is a non-budgeted expense.
• approved election judges including Marilyn Pawelk, Gordon Houk, Shirley Dibb, Shirley Weisenburger, Audrey Litzau, Barb Parpart, and Joyce Burandt.
• directed staff to write a letter objecting to two proposed 1-megawatt solar gardens on property owned by Cecil Martin to be located on two 20-acre parcels in Winsted Township along Highway 7. The vote was 4-1, with Dahl, Angvall, Messer, and Foust in favor, and Hoof opposed. Hoof said it is a good place for solar farms because it is not suitable for farming or building. The others noted it is in the city’s long-term growth plan, and said they would rather see commercial or industrial development with highway access.
• approved a motion to enforce the city’s employee handbook.