City Council moves forward with sale of bonds for new swimming pool

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Mike Bubany of David Drown & Associates sat before the Chatfield City Council last Monday evening, Aug. 27, with financial information on the bonds for the new municipal swimming pool.

He reported the city received seven bids for the project and Piper Jaffray had submitted what appears to be the low bid, and councilors voted in favor of awarding the project to the lowest bidder, with an amount not to exceed $4,402,000.

However, closing on the project is not scheduled until Sept. 10, so there is work to be done in the interim to prepare the city’s accounts for the approximately $4.4 million project.

The city has an “AA stable” credit rating, something of which Bubany stated the council and administration should be proud due to wise management of money and credit.

“Your management practices are strong,” he noted.

Ground was broken for the project on Saturday, Aug. 18, and the old pool and bathhouse have been up for demolition.

Zoning concerns

Kristi Clarke, Chatfield’s zoning administrator, outlined permitted rural residential storage, as it had come to the zoning commission for review.

According to a memo Clarke submitted to the city, “The planning and zoning commissioners have processed two variances concerning side yard setbacks in the rural residential (RR) zone in the past several years and were asked by a property owner early this year to review the RR zone to determine if a self-storage, or personal-use-only garage could be added to the RR zone as a permitted use. The commissioners reviewed garages as a permitted use and determined that if a garage was used as a personal use and not for commercial storage uses, that it would fit within the existing uses in the RR zone.”

As the councilors voted to approve the zoning, Clarke moved on to speak about mixed use of land. She had submitted an explanation to the council stating, “The purpose of the mixed use district is to promote unique planned developments within the district where residential land uses can be combined into neighborhoods with retail, office, entertainment and recreational facilities. The intent of the mixed district is to promote integrated development patterns that establish a mixed use land pattern and neighborhood design that is consistent with the vision, goals and policies of the Chatfield comprehensive plan; accommodate a mixture of residential, retail, service, office, recreational and entertainment land uses in an integrated neighborhood design; establish ground level, pedestrian-friendly retail and service storefronts complemented by office and residential uses above the ground floor development; promote a development pattern that is pedestrian-friendly that encourages walking, biking and use of mass transit; create attractive neighborhoods that promote pedestrian activity, human interaction, safety and livability; provide a range of housing options that respond to the needs of residents in each stage of their life; promote a creative and efficient use of land which at the same time protects and promotes health, safety, comfort, aesthetics, economic viability and general welfare of the city.”

Clarke highlighted that land use and zoning are different concepts, such as in the case of the Twiford property the city has redeveloped on the edge of a residential neighborhood adjoining more commercial property.

Following that topic, things got smaller – outright miniature – as she broached the subject of miniature pig ownership, relating that a future resident requested the zoning commission review the city’s ordinances on animals and determine if it would be possible to amend the city code to allow for miniature pigs in residential districts other than RR-zoned neighborhoods.

A meeting was held in July and no concerns were voiced because the animals are largely considered indoor pets that produce no nuisance and can be considered service animals.

New language in the ordinance would read, “It is unlawful for any person to own, keep or maintain miniature pigs in the city unless the property is in the rural residential zoning district or the person is issued a zoning certificate. A miniature pig is defined as a domesticated miniature pig that does not exceed 22 inches in height and resides indoors and only outdoors when supervised or leashed. Miniature pigs must be neutered/spayed within six months and owner must provide documentation of vet care when obtaining a zoning certificate. A zoning certificate for miniature pigs shall include a completed application and vet care documentation.”

Councilors chose to grant the request, contingent on the city attorney’s review, and voted accordingly.

City charter

The city’s charter commission was represented by Curt Sorenson, who recommended holding a public hearing to amend the charter to encompass a city administrator’s position.

The city has been in debate about the matter, as it has for at least a decade as noted by Sorenson at previous meetings. He noted that finally coming to a conclusion not to recommend a city manager-based structure will provide some long-awaited progress.

A public hearing has been set for Monday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at city hall.

Public works report

City maintenance foreman Brian Burkholder requested permission to pursue repairs on the fire hall and city shop roofs, bringing forward bids from Schwickert’s and Allen Roofing. Allen Roofing earned the bid for the project, and the councilors gave the project approval.

Burkholder then moved on to present the city’s Kernza intermediate wheatgrass for sale to The Land Institute in Kansas, the entity that holds the trademark for the grain grass that was planted on two plots in and just outside of Chatfield.

Mayor Russ Smith observed that there had been quite a bit of interest from various individuals about the city’s Kernza crops.

Other reports

After that, Councilor John McBroom gave the public services report, relating that Ambulance Director Sue Kester had submitted several applications for emergency medical technicians (EMT) to join the ambulance service.

She also noted she, herself, has been recognized for 30 years of service as an EMT.

It was also noted there have been suggestions made to post school zone signage near the Hillside Drive crosswalks to help students get to the elementary school more safely, and that work is underway to upgrade an existing fire department tanker that will be put into service soon.

In park and rec news, the pool’s hours and guidelines are being reviewed as the city prepares to open the new swimming pool next June.

Finally, City Clerk Joel Young gave his report, advising the councilors that a Harley motorcycle group will be riding through Chatfield soon and will be making a donation to the ambulance service.

He also said the property located at 121 Avenue A NE has officially been declared a public nuisance after numerous attempts to contact the owner and prod that person to cleanup action.