Baxter City Council: City staff make revisions to city code, clarify statutes
BAXTER—The Baxter City Council authorized a number of revisions to its city code—in particular, ordinances regarding city zones and property subdivisions.
Community Development Director Josh Doty gave a rundown Tuesday, March 19, of the proposed changes to the council. In turn, council member Mark Cross offered suggestions of his own to fine-tune the revisions.
Doty described it much like tidying the house or bureaucratic upkeep.
"Staff like to keep tallies of the general ordinance fixes throughout the year," Doty said. "Some of them are more technical and some of them are more substantive."
With that, he gave a rundown of the highlights or points of note from the code revisions:
• There are provisions to change the definition of what constitutes a hotel as its codified by city statutes—namely, Doty said, the presumption that someone can live or take up residence in a hotel. That clause has been deleted, he said. Cross noted there's ambiguous language for what constitutes a hotel or a motel—specifically, that it has three or more bedrooms for rent and features exterior doors—that could muddy matters in the future.
• Revisions would now allow the inclusion of churches or other houses of worship in a number of city zones—ones that already allow other forms of "assembly" or related structures. Doty said this was prompted by efforts to honor the Freedom of Religion Act.
• Doty noted city staff added language to explicitly state what structural dimensions could be exempted by the city's building height limitation—requiring the exempted elements remain within 10 feet of the building itself. These exemptions apply to myriad elements including chimneys, church spires, grain elevators, flagpoles and others. These provisions no longer require a conditional use permit to construct, Doty said, but a variance would be required if it exceeds 10 feet.
• Changes would establish a clearer definition of site visibility angles—especially, Doty noted, in the case of utilities. Ordinances pertaining to visibility angles are limitations on foliage, trees or structures that could inhibit a driver or pedestrian's vision at a corner of a given property.
• Clarifying language notes trash enclosures must be opaque and, furthermore, a color similar or matching the main structure. Color matching also now applies to rooftop units—such as heating and ventilation boxes, for example—as well as screening guidelines for these units.
• For fencing, Doty said the city is establishing standards. These include not using permanent materials for, as an example, snow fencing, or intending snow fencing as a permanent fixture. However, Doty noted the city has exceptions for some dog fences or garden fences.
• Doty said the city is implementing standards of distance separation and brightness for electric signs—an increasingly popular feature for buildings, in particular among churches, which often exist near residential homes.
• There are provisions, Duty noted, to discourage stand-alone parking lots. While off-site parking lots are still allowed, revised language would request that these off-site parking lots be connected to another parking lot.
• For temporary occupancy, Doty said the city is looking to include other forms of guarantee for these kinds of transaction beyond paper cash currency.
In other business, the council:
Approved fireworks sales permits for Costco, Cub Foods, Target, and Walmart between April 1 to March 31, 2020.
Passed a resolution supporting a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources trails grant application for the Oakwood Drive trail project.
Approved a proposal by Bolton & Menk for an inventory of existing septic systems and wells. Cost of services is not to exceed the amount of $19,308.
Approved a proposal by engineering-architectural firm Widseth Smith Nolting for the assessment of unsewered neighborhoods and their environmental impact. Cost of services are not to exceed amount of $10,500.
Approved a change order for Pratt's Affordable Excavating, Inc. in the increased amount of $3,850 for the 2018 Excelsior Road and Edgewood Drive commercial improvements project.
Approved a final pay estimate to Pratt's Affordable Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $35,722.98 for the 2018 Excelsior Road and Edgewood Drive commercial improvements project contingent on submittal of the contractor's affidavit.
Approved a change order to Anderson Brothers Construction in the increased amount of $6,125.95 for the 2018 mill and overlay and full depth reclamation improvements project.
Approved an amendment to a proposal by WSB & Associates Inc. to conduct a wastewater treatment plant study for no more than $2,250.
Approved a BNSF invoice to the Crow Wing County Highway Department in the amount of $575.61 for the 2017 County Highway 48 railroad crossing and trail improvements project.
Approved the Ziegler CAT three-year maintenance contract for the water treatment plant emergency generator in the amount of $3,221.93 per year.
Approved the Northern States Power Franchise Agreement ordinance.
Approved the purchase of a 2018 RAM 2500 truck from Brandl Motors, including plow and accessories, for a total cost of $44,256.64.