Fountain City Council approves membership with Historic Bluff Country

By : 
Bretta Grabau
News Leader

Brian Krenz from Historic Bluff Country returned to visit with the Fountain City Council during its meeting on Wednesday, June 6, regarding Fountain reinstating its membership with the organization and the potential scenic byway extension.

Discussion among the byway committee has been going on to reroute the scenic byway through Wykoff and down Highway 80 into Fountain. Krenz stated historically, that road was part of the original Highway 16, and as such could be considered part of the scenic byway.

The current route of Highway 16 was added later, and it has been designated as a National Scenic Byway. The federal government is no longer designating roads, therefore that stretch of the road would not be touched by the byway committee. The scenic byway designation, which could go through Fountain along Highway 80, would be from the state.

Because of the history of the route, Krenz commented the chairman of the byway committee, Holly Slagle, is already excited about the prospect and working to procure signs for the route. Wykoff is already on board as well. Historic Bluff Country would promote the current Highway 16 as a national scenic byway, but their prime route would be through Fountain and Highway 80. In order to continue, Krenz requested a resolution from the city council supporting the byway, which was readily granted.

Since the extension has become a viable possibility to Fountain, the council agreed to become members of Historic Bluff Country once again. Krenz stated the organization would be promoting the community and byway online and at sponsored events. The membership fee is based on a per capita system, from the numbers of the most recent census.

Farm animal ordinance

After discussion amongst the council and input from community members on both sides of the farm animal ordinance, the council ruled to leave the current ordinance as is, prohibiting farm animals within city limits.

Mayor Richard Kujath noted some of the residents were upset this had even come up again as an issue. In the past, farm animals were within city limits and were an annoyance to many. Council member Jim Schott said residents were surprised about this discussion and were so happy when the horses were gone.

Emily Root, who had requested the council consider allowing chickens in town, respectfully disagreed with the council’s decision, emphasizing she felt led by the council to believe there would be no objections. She inquired as to why the decision was made, to which she was answered some neighbors had said they had not even heard about it.

In past meetings Root stated she had talked to her neighbors and they had no problems with the chickens. She offered to go around once again to talk. She had also thought the design for a chicken coop she had compiled would have been sufficient and a design others could use in the future.

Kujath stated at the last meeting the council agreed to discuss the possibility, but after the discussion and Root’s appeal, the decision remained the same.

All felt, though they believed Root would have done an excellent job in controlling the chickens, allowing these farm animals would open the proverbial can of worms and others would come in asking to bring in other types of farm animals.

Also, enforcing something like a seasonal permit would cost the city and some other ordinances are already difficult to enforce.

Council member Brian Ostby stated, “We got people who won’t even trim their weeds.”

WSB

The council met the new WSB city engineer for Fountain, Matthew Mohs, as Richard Parr has since moved on to another firm. Mohs became familiar with the city’s projects at the wastewater treatment plant and a couple of items the council had been discussing. One was a floor slab analysis to be able to handle the bulk chemical tank the council approved purchasing a few months ago. The question at the present is if the tank is to be vertical or horizontal. The concrete floor is not strong enough to hold the tank at present, so there would need to be some reinforcement done. Mohs noted he would need to know the type of tank that would be used due the size of the area to be worked on. The council approved the proposal for the analysis, but Mohs would not do anything until speaking with Rick Whitney of PeopleService.

The other item was the agreement with Valley Design. After reading through the agreement, he took note of what Richard Parr had commented on and will be passing it on to the head of the wastewater division for a final check. Once the engineers have approved it, the agreement will be taken to Valley Design for signing, although it is not mandatory.

Solar panels

The council was approached by Paul Hamann and his son, Corey, regarding the intention of putting solar panels on the south side of their building, located across the street. The intent is to have electric in-floor heating, electric water heater and electric forklift. This would not be happening until next year, but Hamann wished to start off on the right foot with the council on the issue. The panels would mostly be laying on the roof, but could be adjusted slightly for the appropriate angle. Not much is currently known about it, and the council would want to see the final print when it is available. However, as long as the panels would not be blinding, the council was favorable.

Fire department

The fire department submitted a request for an electric water heater for the fire hall for the amount of $1,068.27. It was approved.

The department also needed to purchase a washing machine to wash the protective clothes from drugs, smoke and other smells and chemicals they could run into on call. This was approved for $5,000.

Requests were also made for a temporary one-day on-sale liquor license and an application to conduct off-site gambling for the department’s gun raffle on Oct. 13.

Other business

In zoning, the council approved the request of Earnest Miller to put up chain link fencing for his dogs and cats, with the recommendation that he get a survey done for the property line. In addition, Keith Raaen submitted a request to put up a shop and bathroom near his home. Schott stated this would probably need to use a conditional use permit and go in the paper for a hearing. The two main concerns with this are if it would be near a septic tank and the shed being in a residential area.

The council approved the resolution for the Minnesota Department of Transportation cooperative landscaping agreement for the shrubbery around the sign and the veteran’s memorial. The city will be purchasing the shrubbery and will be reimbursed.

Also approved was the franchise agreement with Mediacom. There are pedestals left over from a previous internet provider around town that no longer have a purpose. City Clerk Rhonda Flattum will be contacting that company to come get its equipment.

The council received the final permit for the wastewater treatment plant for another five years.

Flattum reminded the council of the annual Preston Emergency Service picnic to be held on Wednesday, June 20, at 6:30 p.m. Council members and city staff have been invited to participate. Flattum will be out of the office on June 28 and July 3.

Several complaints have surfaced over the past month regarding the noise level in the wee hours of the morning at a particular business in town with squealing wheels and revving motors. The council noted this is a new thing in town, and hoped that once the police department issues a few tickets, the problem will calm down.

The July council meeting will be held on July 11 due to the Fourth of July.