Council makes progress on re-vamping ordinances

By: 
Jordan Gerard

The Spring Grove City Council made progress on re-vamping its zoning ordinances after it approved several motions at its regular meeting on June 18.

Smaller items such as a fence, porch, deck, wheel chair ramp, retaining wall and outdoor advertising signs will now cost $10 for a permit. Previously, those fees were $50 each.

Bigger items like a garage or demolition will cost $50 for a permit. 

Councilmember Scott Solberg said the city still wants to know about things that are getting constructed, but now the cost matches the project.

The application form itself will also see changes. The council also removed a portion of the zoning ordinance that did not require a permit for storage buildings less than 196 square feet in floor area and 12 feet high. From now on, all new buildings will need a permit, regardless of size.

In addition to the changes, the Planning and Zoning committee is requesting a copy of the Minnesota State Contractor License Law be handed out with permits that are granted. 

Basically, the extra piece of paper will tell homeowners to be sure their contractor is licensed and where to get information on contractors.

When to get a permit

The official list of what needs a permit and what does not is also available.

You need a permit for: concrete slab/patio/driveway; construction of new homes, commercial and industrial buildings; construction of structural addition to existing, residential, commercial and industrial buildings; construction of accessory buildings (detached garages, carports, storage buildings); prefabricated structures, new attached garages, demolition of existing buildings and structures; outdoor advertising signs; retaining walls; fences of any size and length; construction of porches, decks, swimming pools (to be defined) and wheel chair ramps.

You do not need a permit for: replacement and building repairs on the exterior (windows, doors, roofs, stairs, etc. with NO footprint changes); installation of new exterior siding and roofing; replacement of existing windows and doors; fireplaces; mechanical, electrical and plumbing work; swing sets and playhouses; temporary signs not exceeding 64 sq. ft. and displayed for less than 30 days.

If in doubt about your project, city staff is available to answer questions during normal business hours at city hall. 

Construction parking privileges

During the open comment period, Mark Gjere of Gjere Construction asked the council to review their parking ordinances pertaining to the 72-hour parking limit. 

The construction company has been doing work in town and they received two parking violations because their trucks had not been moved in 72 hours. 

However, Gjere said he thought there were special circumstances to be considered. 

Usually the trucks and equipment are moved from job site to job site, but with recent rainy weather, the company wasn’t able to finish the job. They also did not want to drag mud out onto the street.

Gjere said he thought they had parked them in an inconspicuous spot out of the way.

“We’re trying to be courteous to the town, but we’re a little on the upset order,” he said. “I think something should be changed there for sure. Construction is different.”

He added they never received a phone call from the police department nor the complainer about the situation. It would have been appreciated, he said.

Mayor Sarah Schroeder said once the ticket is written, the city cannot reverse it. 

Solberg said the 72-hour ordinance was added to prevent vehicles from just sitting around, but agreed something could be done for construction equipment.

The council agreed to revisit the building permits and perhaps if equipment was going to be sitting overnight, a special permit could be issued to waive the 72-hour restriction.

Trollskogen Park update

The council approved a motion to withhold the final payment to Phoenix Corporation until WHKS could determine the playground equipment was installed correctly.

Solberg reported that bolts were coming undone from the equipment. 

City Clerk/Treasurer Erin Konkel said Phoenix may not have had the right tool to tighten the bolts at the time and could have tightened them by hand. One bolt even fell on a child, she said. 

“The city deserves to have it done right,” Solberg said. “They’re not getting paid until we’re sure it’s done right.”

Other news

The council approved an onsale beer and wine license for Jo’s Coffeehouse, which is contingent upon the city receiving an insurance certificate and a physical buyers card.

Jo’s Coffeehouse also qualifies as a restaurant, based on the number of tables they have.

The council agreed to spend a maximum of $200 (but possibly less) on 10 two-sided yard signs that will signify the homeowner acquired the necessary permits for the work they are doing. Signs must be returned after the project is complete.

The council is hoping the signs reduce telephone calls from concerned neighbors and encourage other people to apply for permits too, if they need them.

The council requested Public Utilities Director Paul Morken to review the zoning permit at 310 Maple Drive because the project has been growing in scope and scale. Morken will ensure any new footprints of the project won’t cover up any underground lines.

Finally, the council approved two signs for Ye Olde Opera House’s production of “Godspell” in July. The signs will be visible on the east and west end of town.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove City Council will be held July 23, at 6 p.m., at 168 W. Main St.