Melrose City November 15, 2018

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The Melrose City Council met in a Regular Meeting on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Melrose City Center pursuant to due notice being given thereof. Present were Council Members Tony Klasen, Dick Christenson, Justin Frieler, Travis Frieler, Mayor Joe Finken, City Administrator Michael Brethorst, and City Clerk Patti Haase. Also in attendance were Jesse Lovelace, Micki Lovelace, Tim Vogel, Father Marvin Enneking, and Jim Jackson and approximately 50 members of the public. Mayor Finken presided thereat. Also in attendance were American Government students from the Melrose Area Public High School.
The Council then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Mr. Klasen and unanimously carried to approve the agenda as submitted.
Jesse Lovelace: Mr. Lovelace strongly recommends the City Council establish a Historic District in Melrose. St. Mary’s Church and the adjoining rectory are already on the National Historic Registry. The City of Melrose has very few historic buildings remaining. By contrast, surrounding nearby communities seem to have managed to establish and maintain their historic districts. Mr. Lovelace gave examples of other historic areas such as the original Main Street in Sauk Centre, St. Benedict’s Convent, and the St. Cloud historic commercial district. So in spite of the honorable judges opinion, it doesn’t appear that government interfering with religion applies here. Therefore, Mr. Lovelace urgently recommends proceeding with the plan as stated in options 1 or 2 on the agenda or a combination thereof. He believes it is a moral and civic duty.
Tim Vogel: Appreciation for letting me speak on behalf of the citizens of Melrose and the Restore Group. Every community has a unique entity that gives their home town its identity. Drive across the countryside, you will see church steeples especially in Stearns County. Mr. Vogel stated we all know what St. Mary’s Church means to this parish or at least we thought we did. So let us focus on what this building means to this town and what it means to our heritage. There is a reason the building is on the National Historic Registry. The craftsmanship and architecture are not duplicated in modern days. The building has been a beacon of the community for and has been the one true identity of this town for over 100 years. We ask that the Council place a moratorium on any demolition or dismantling of this building and research creating a historic district. The Council has the authority to do so. But, more importantly, it has a moral obligation to preserve and protect the last remaining structure that gives identity to this community.
To let a historical building fall to its demise will be the one defining moment of sorrow, for this whole community will grieve for a long time and we, as a community, cannot let this happen. There is a quote out there, “A town without old buildings is like a man without a memory.” This Council has the authority to create this district, but does it have the will.
Jim Jackson Mr. Jackson is requesting to be put on the next agenda. For the past five years, the property owner at 134 Riverside Avenue NW has been raising pit bulls. The brood of new puppies generally consists of four at each birth. These puppies bark continually off and on throughout the day and over into the early hours in the morning. Unfortunately, the Police Department can only visit the owners and warn of the annoying barking. Only if the barking continues for over an hour can further consequences be invoked. Mr. Jackson is asking that the on-going problem be investigated.
Fr. Marvin Enneking addressed the Mayor and Council. Fr. Enneking read the letter that had been sent to the Mayor and Council regarding the request from St. Mary’s Restore Group to designate Block 32 as a historic district. Fr. Enneking asked that the letter be entered into the meeting minutes as public record.
The following items were considered for approval under the Consent Agenda:
a. The minutes from the Council’s October 18 Regular Meeting.
b. List of bills in the amount of $336,157.37.
c. List of investments for the month of October.
d. 1) Resolution No. 2018-54, Donation in the amount of $500 from the Holdingford Firemen Relief to the Melrose Ambulance Department for training expenses.
2) Resolution No. 2018-55, Donation in the amount of $500 from the Melrose Lions to the Melrose Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Kick-off fireworks.
e. Police Officer Matt Moorman will complete two years of service with the City on approximately November 23. Chief Maus conducted a review and it is favorable, therefore, recommends approval of a step increase from Step 1 to Step 2.
f. As a follow up to the Park and Trails Sidewalk Plan, the City worked with Allison Dudek of Stearns County (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) and Hannah Dockendorf of CentraCare (Feeling Good MN-BLEND) to submit a $50,000 grant for the sidewalk between downtown and the new Jennie-O Turkey Store. The Council to approve grant application submittal.
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Justin Frieler and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda items.
Finance Director Tessa Beuning presented the General Fund Financial Third Quarter Report. The General Fund Revenue is at 58% and the Expenditures are at 62%. Revenues are low because only half of the property tax and local government aid have been received. Property Tax and LGA make up 72% of the revenue budget. Police State Aid was received in October. Charges for administrative services are not recorded until year end, as well as approximately $20,000 received at year end from Stearns County for street maintenance. Finally, approximately $13,500 was taken from General Administrative Charge revenue to pay back Stearns County for excess TIF revenues received from the now decertified CMCU TIF district. The revenues are running low for the MADA fund due to the transfers from the General Fund and TIF funds not yet being made. Expenditures are at 94% of the budget. Miscellaneous expenses have exceeded the budget due to an expense of $2,000 for the 2018 SCDP grant application and the pedestrian and bike study. Ambulance Revenue is at 90% and the Expenditures are at 72%. Administrative fee transfers to the General Fund are done at year end. The Ambulance Department cost-shared painting at the Fire and Ambulance Station which increased the maintenance expense.The Revenue for the Fire Department is only at 6%. This is because 90% of the budgeted revenue comes from Fire Contract charges from the townships and the City’s contribution and is not collected until December. The Fire Department has adequate reserve funds to meet operational costs until contract revenue is received. The expenditures are at 33% of the budget, due to salaries and building rent not being paid until year end.
Police Chief Craig Maus presented the Police Department’s October report. He noted there were 441 calls for service during that month, compared to 329 for October 2017. A total of 27 citations were written for the month of October. The year-to-date number of calls is 4,429 compared to 2,943 in 2017. For the month of October 2018, the Department received 39 agency assist calls. Chief Maus noted that on November 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Melrose High School Auditorium there will be a human trafficking presentation. It is open to the public. The commercial property that is under the abatement order will expire on November 25. There has not been any movement to address the issue at this point. There were 35 written warnings for 24-hour parking violations. Chief Maus reminded residents of winter parking regulations.
City Attorney Scott Dymoke reported on projects he has been working on for the City:
• St. Mary’s CUP and Variance Application: Worked with City staff to respond to St. Mary’s application requests. Met with City staff and St. Mary’s representatives to negotiate abatement agreement.
• Charter Cable Television Franchise: Met with City Administrator and Charter representatives to complete negotiation of new franchise agreement and discuss updates to City Cable Regulations. Prepare final drafts of franchise agreement and cable regulations updates for review and approval by City Council.
Community Development Director Atkinson provided an overview of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s November 5 Meeting. The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the Arce Auto Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Amendment and Variance Request. The Commission recommended approval of the CUP Amendment, which includes relocating the car sales area to the eastern side of the building along with other more minor changes. The Commission recommended denial of the Variance as it didn’t meet the standards for granting a Variance. The Commission also reviewed the amendment to the Sign Ordinance and is recommending Council approval. MADA met on November 8, 2018 and reviewed Burlington Plat II. They concurred with the Planning and Zoning Commission and recommends the Council approve the consolidation of the lots into the alley. It is also recommended to declare the other Burlington lots as excess and available for purchase.
Mayor Finken stated that the Regular City Election was held at the General Election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, to vote on officers for Mayor and two, four-year Council Member positions and the official returns of the judges of election were presented. Justin Frieler introduced Resolution No. 2018-56, A Resolution Canvassing the November 6, 2018 Municipal Election Returns and Declaring Election Results. (See attached resolution.) The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen, with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Justin Frieler, Klasen, Christenson, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken noted that the Melrose City Council declared a vacancy on the Melrose City Council after the resignation of Josh Thieschafer. The Council, at their October 18, 2018 Council declared that they would nominate the declared candidate for the Melrose City Council with the most votes received during the 2018 General Election. Travis Frieler received the most votes. A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Justin Frieler and unanimously carried appointing Travis Frieler to fill the vacancy on the Melrose City Council. City Administrator administered the Oath of Office to Travis Frieler.
Mayor Finken stated that the Stearns County Fire and Emergency Mutual Aid Program has been reviewed by the various chiefs. They are recommending a modification to the agreements that are in place between the City and various EMS. The primary change is:
“If assistance provided under this Agreement continues for more than 8 hours, the responding party will submit to the requesting party an itemized bill for the actual cost of any assistance provided after the initial 8-hour period, including salaries, overtime, materials and supplies and other necessary expenses, calculated at the current DNR suggested equipment standards and hourly rates for fire departments. The requesting party will reimburse the party providing the assistance for that amount.”
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Justin Frieler and unanimously carried adopting the Stearns County Fire and Emergency Mutual Aid Agreement
Mr. Klasen introduced Resolution No. 2018-57, Approving the Stearns County Mutual Aid Agreement for Use of Fire Personnel and Equipment. The motion was seconded by Mr. Christenson with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Klasen, Christenson, Justin Frieler, Travis Frieler, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken stated that the Melrose Fire Department needs to replace the 1986 Brush Rig. The Department has set aside $40,000 for the replacement of this vehicle in 2019. In the search for a replacement vehicle, the Fire Chief was able to secure an excess Department of Natural Resources 2009 Chevy 3500 for a cost of $12,000. The value of the vehicle is $16,000, in accordance to the Surplus Fire Truck Agreement, the City can purchase the truck for $12,000 if it is used for Fire EMS. The Department will also repaint the rig and make miscellaneous repairs for a cost of approximately $4,000. A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Travis Frieler and unanimously carried authorizing Fire Chief Budde to purchase the 2009 Chevy 3500 and to allow the disposal of the 1986 Brush Rig.
Mayor Finken noted that Arce Auto initially requested a broad Variance request which included various elements, but then reduced the request to include just the south property line area, requesting a Variance from the parking setback and landscape buffer requirements to allow them to park vehicles three feet setback from the south property line. The property line is approximately eight and one-half feet north of the curb with a six-foot sidewalk covering all but one to two and one-half feet of the City right-of-way north of the curb. (With a three-foot setback, there would essentially be four to five and one-half feet of separation from the path because the City right-of-way extends a variable one to two and one-half feet north of the path. The variation is due to the curve in the road.
The applicant is also requested a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) amendment for various elements, which will be addressed separately.
The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its November 5, 2018 meeting, recommended denial of the Variance request because the request did not meet two Variance standards, as detailed in the Findings of Fact. The Standards that were not met include the following:
City Variance Standard 2.2 The plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property that were not created by the landowner; and (This is State Statute Element 2)
City Variance Standard 6. The Variance requested is the minimum action required to address or alleviate the practical difficulties
Council Member Klasen introduced Resolution No. 2018-58, Resolution Denying Case No. Var-8-2018-104 Requested by Joe Acreneau for Arce Auto/Arce Properties Requesting A Variation From Parking Setbacks And Landscape Buffer Requirements on South Side of the Property. The motion was seconded by Justin Frieler with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Klasen, Justin Frieler, Christenson, Travis Frieler, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken stated that Arce Auto has requested a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) amendment relating to both 2017 CUPs – the CUP for auto repair and the CUP for auto sales. At its November 5, 2018 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission moved to recommend the City Council Approve the CUP and adopt the attached resolution (Exhibit 1) based on the Determinations for granting CUPs and adopted Findings of Fact as noted in the draft CUP resolution, which includes conditions for approval. Council Member Christenson introduced Resolution No. 2018-59, Resolution Approving Case No. CUP-10-2018-404 Conditional Use Permit Amendment Requested by Joe Arceneau for Arce Auto/Arce Properties Amending the Previously Approved Auto Repair and Auto Sales Conditional Use Permit. The motion was seconded by Travis Frieler with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Christenson, Travis Frieler, Klasen, Justin Frieler, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken stated that the Franchise Agreement with Charter Communications has expired. Efforts have taken place to update the agreement. City Attorney Dymoke and City Administrator Brethorst have negotiated terms to renewal. The franchise fee will remain 5% in accordance with State Law. It also sets to term and updates language to reflect the new corporate name and proposed new updated ordinance. Instead of passing a resolution to consent to the new administrative organization change within Charter, it is proposed to simply change the names as noted in the agreement as presented. The Melrose Utilities has reviewed this agreement and ordinance and recommend approving as presented. A motion was made by Klasen, seconded by Justin Frieler and unanimously carried approving the amendment to the Franchise Agreement with Charter Communications as presented.
Council Member Justin Frieler introduced Ordinance No. 11-15-2018-1, An Ordinance Repealing Ordinance No. 2003-C and Adopting Cable Systems Regulations. The motion was seconded by Travis Frieler with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Justin Frieler, Travis Frieler, Klasen, Christenson, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
A motion was then made by Travis Frieler to the adopt the Official Title and Summary of Ordinance No. 11-15-2018-1. The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Travis Frieler, Klasen, Christenson, Justin Frieler and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken presented the written language that was passed in the 2018 tax bill. Since the bill was vetoed and the appropriation expired, the City of Melrose needs to propose yet another amendment to reflect the remaining amount. It is proposed to use the language to use the funds and to extend terms.
The City has reduced the total amount of the appropriation to reflect the remaining funds that are to be used for what was lost.
$1,296,458 City of Melrose
$ 95,800 Stearns County
$1,392,258
Total City of Melrose: $737,528.87
Total Stearns County: $11,000
Total Spent: $748,528.87
Remaining Appropriations: $643,729.20
It is recommended to seek special legislation to secure extension for the funds that have yet to be used.
Sec. 11. Laws 2017, First Special Session chapter 1, article 4, section 31, is amended to read:
Sec. 31. APPROPRIATION; FIRE REMEDIATION GRANTS.
$1,392,258 is appropriated in fiscal year 2018 from the general fund to the commissioner of public safety for grants to remediate the effects of fires in the City of Melrose on September 8, 2016. The commissioner must allocate the grants as follows:
(1) $1,296,458 $1,381,258 $643,729 to the City of Melrose; and (2) $95,800 $11,000 to Stearns County.
A grant recipient must use the money appropriated under this section for remediation costs, including disaster recovery, infrastructure, reimbursement for emergency personnel costs, reimbursement for equipment costs, and reimbursements for property tax abatements, incurred by public or private entities as a result of the fires. This is a onetime appropriation and is available until June 30, 2018 2021, 2022.
Sec. 11. Laws 2017, First Special Session chapter 1, article 3, section 32, the effective date, is amended to read:
EFFECTIVE DATE. Paragraph (a) is effective retroactively for sales and purchases made after September 30, 2016, and before January 1, 2019 2022 2023. Paragraph (b) is effective for sales and purchases made after September 30, 2016, and before July 1, 2017.
EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective the day following final enactment.
A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried to seek special legislation as noted.
Mayor Finken noted that in 1998, the City of Melrose platted the Melrose Burlington Plat II. The historical perspective on this is that Burlington and the State of Minnesota were disposing of excess lots associate to the old railbank properties. To clean this up, a plat was created to allow for easy sale of property. Offers were made in 1998 to allow for this to occur; however, no one was interested as the City of Melrose is already maintaining the property. The original gravel road on property is now located with the platted alleyway on the plat. It is noted, that several of the properties have garages on the property line abutting the City property. This has been there since the establishment of the plat. There is no known access easement for the abutting property owners to cross the various parcels abutting the alley and the homes. Recently, during a closing on a home, an easement was requested to allow for continued access.
Therefore, there are two options available to the City of which the Planning and Zoning Commission and MADA have reviewed. The Planning and Zoning Commission met on October 1, 2018 and MADA met on November 8. MADA has recommend to alley access easements.
The options the Board considered are:
1) Provide access easement to all parcels and record it against each parcel at City expense
2) Do nothing
After reviewing the options, staff is of the opinion to provide access easement to all parties along the alleyway. They also recommend that we do nothing for the remaining lots and continue to use the property in questions, with the exception to declare the remaining lots as excess and available for sale. Since this has been discussed, Coborn’s has opted not to pursue the land purchase. MADA has reviewed this and recommends providing access easement. It is estimated to cost approximately $125 per parcel to create easement.
A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Travis Frieler and unanimously carried to consolidate excess lots into abutting alley and for the City to fund these easements as it was not addressed with the original plat.
Mayor Finken stated that the City of Melrose has partnered with Stearns County, CentraCare, Melrose School and the Initiative Foundation to develop a Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. The Parks and Recreation Board has reviewed the Master Plan and is recommending adoption of the plan. Andy Hingeveld, Senior Transportation Planner with WSB, presented an overview of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.
A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried adopting the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.
Mayor Finken stated that changes have been made to the Sign Ordinance since it was last presented to the Council. Most recently, Section 710 has some changes, including most notably a provision for a CUP that would allow a bit more sign flexibility including signage on the site abutting a business. Otherwise the changes from the last review pretty much include just moving around the current text and changing how it looks. Staff went back to the original calculations for business signage, thinking that the originally proposed changes may be too aggressive. The original maximum was 255 square feet per frontage, which has now been suggested to increase to a maximum of 500 square feet per frontage.
The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its November 5 meeting, reviewed the draft ordinance and is recommending the Council adopt the Amendment to the Sign Ordinance. Council Member Travis Frieler introduced Ordinance No. 11-15-2018-2, An Ordinance Amending Zoning Ordinance No. 1989-1-A, As Amended, Adopted By Reference As Chapter 153 Of The Melrose City Code Amending Section 700, Sign Regulations/Official Title and Summary Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Travis Frieler, Klasen, Christenson, Justin Frieler, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
A motion was then made by Justin Frieler to the adopt the Official Title and Summary of Ordinance No. 11-15-2018-2. The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Justin Frieler, Klasen, Christenson, Travis Frieler, and Mayor Finken; AGAINST: None
The City Council and the Utilities Commission had directed staff to negotiate health insurance benefits with LELS. AFSCME, and Non-Union Employees. LELS and AFSCME have accepted the negotiated terms as presented.
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Justin Frieler and unanimously carried concurring with the Melrose Public Utilities approving the negotiated health insurance benefits with LELS and Non-Union Employees. A motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried concurring with the Melrose Public Utilities approving the negotiated health insurance benefits with AFSCME Employees.
Mayor Finken noted a stakeholder meeting of state, local and county agencies met to review the status of the rock arch rapids / fish passage projects. The concept as previously presented is to replace the fixed site dam and slew gates with a rock arch rapids / fish passage with no impact to the pool reservoir. The design currently reflects an approximately 13-foot drop. With approximately 21 steps with associated minor pools with a .6 drop between steps, a stream realignment is also proposed to mitigate hydraulic and design standards. This project was originally presented to the City of Melrose as an alternative to the existing dam by the DNR. Since this discussion began, the DNR has developed additional findings that rock arch rapids / fish passages as currently being planned by Melrose does not meet the desired end measures of stream bank restoration, habitat restoration and has potential issues with passing flood stages. There is also concerns with these types of projects statewide that they are dam replacements versus a restoration project. Due to this, the DNR has stated that they will no longer commit to permitting our project as presented. They recommend an alternative of a combination rock arch rapids / fish passage with partial pools with an associated restoration of the river channel. The DNR feels that this would meet the current intent of the various funding sources and address the issues within the Melrose Lake. The revised project would:
1) Address the sediment buildup and long-term maintenance
2) Address fish passage
3) Allow for stream back realignment and stabilization
4) Reduce possible stressors on such a large rock arch rapids / fish passage project
5) Minimize or eliminate long term maintenance of the dam area / rock arch rapids
6) Would potentially reduce the cost of the CSAH 65 Bridge as it would no longer require three piers
As per the DNR, they stated at the November 6, 2018 stake holder meeting that if the dam were to fail, they would not permit a one-for-one replacement of the dam nor a rock arch rapids / fish passage as currently in draft concept. They would most likely require partial pools with a rock arch rapids / fish passage. As today, the City of Melrose and the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) have tentatively secured $4,155,000. It is the assessment of DNR and SWCD that the state tentative funding sources would support this modification in design if we are to modify the elevations of the reservoir. The concerns raised by City staff was the impact to the adjacent property owners in the City limits as well as the up and down stream land owners. The concerns are channel realignment impact to property lines, assessed property values, usability of new lands, length of project, impact to sediment flow, dredging and costs, to name a few items. Time is of the essence for this project. With the current tentative funding, it is anticipated that it will be funded at the levels currently allotted; however, if the City were to receive the funds and then opt not to proceed or fail to receive appropriate permitting, it would be looked at negatively by the funding sources for any sort of future request. The legislature begins in early January and will address the funding during their session. There are two distinct courses of action to consider. One is to stop all work relating to the rock arch rapids / fish passage and keep the dam as is and build the bridge without the any sort of rock arch rapids / fish passage. The other one is to hold a community stake holders meeting with all affected property owners and regulatory bodies to answer questions and receive feedback. Nikki Blake-Bradly with the DNR provided an overview of the alternative of a combination rock arch rapids / fish passage with partial pools with an associated restoration of the river channel. Mr. Klasen stated that this was not a project that the City initiated, it was one that was presented to us and with the understanding that the water level will remain. Mr. Klasen stated that due to the change in the scope of the project, he suggests withdrawing from the grant process and reapply when the time comes. Mayor Finken requested that the information be gathered and cost estimates prepared. After further discussion, a motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Travis Frieler and unanimously carried for the City to host a formal stake holder meeting on the DNR conceptually approved rock arch rapids / fish passage with partial pools and natural channel design/river restoration up and downstream of the current dam structure.
The Friends to Restore St. Mary’s has requested that the City of Melrose: (a) place a moratorium prohibiting any change of use in the Church block to protect the building from further damage; and (b) develop a historical district on the Church block.
In summary, noted below are legal comments relating to the proposed request. Future research would need to be made to determine a final decision on said request.
1. In Minn. Stat. Ch. 138, the Legislature created a number of state historic districts, then gave the affected local municipalities additional authority adopt regulations to protect the historic districts. To create a state historic district within Melrose, the Legislature would need to amend Ch. 138. After approval by the Legislature, Melrose would need to adopt rules and regulations governing the historic district.
a. The state legislation creating historic districts includes a definition of an historic district. The definition describes an historic district as a number of structures, sites and open spaces that together have historic significance. Based on that definition, further review would be needed to determine if only one parcel would meet these criteria.
2. In State v. Erickson, the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that municipalities may create local historic districts through their zoning ordinances. As noted in the attachment from LMC’s zoning guide, historic districts may be either stand-alone districts or an overlay district. Again, if Melrose opts to include historic districts in its Zoning Ordinance, it would need adopt rules and regulations governing the historic district.
3. City Attorney Dymoke has obtained and reviewed a copy of the court’s order in the Friends to Restore St. Mary’s lawsuit against the Church of St. Mary. The court granted the Church’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds. Attorney Dymoke has not extensively researched the decisions relied on by the court, but at first glance, the court’s excessive entanglement in religion analysis would apply equally to Melrose’s creation of an historic district including St. Mary’s Church.
4. If Melrose creates an historic district consisting solely of the St. Mary’s Church property, it is likely the Church of St. Mary’s challenge the action under RLUIPA.
There are three distinct options available to the Council:
1) Direct the Planning and Zoning Commission to develop a recommendation on a possible draft Historic Preservation District as noted in the request of the Friends to Restore St. Mary.
2) Place a moratorium on any modification to properties within the proposed Historic Preservation District as outlined in the request by Friends to Restore St. Mary.
3) Stand by the Abatement Agreement with St. Mary’s and the resolution that the City passed relating to historical places and take no other actions.
City Attorney Dymoke provided his opinion on the options and based on his research, he would caution the City Council on establishing a Historic Preservation District. Mr. Dymoke has reservation of having a Historic District that involves only one property. If the Council wishes to move ahead, they should look at having something more than one property. Mr. Klasen stated that at this point, it is probably a dangerous proposition and could potentially draw a lawsuit. Mr. Klasen stated that it would be nice if there was some type of compromise between everyone involved outside these chambers. It is a historic building and means a lot to the community as a whole. Mr. Christenson stated he sees the reason for keeping the structure; however, his concern is if the historic area was created, what happens to the empty building. Is there a plan to restore? Mr. Christenson does not want to see an empty deteriorating building. So unfortunately, he hates to see the building go down; however, also doesn’t want to see an empty dilapidated building.
After further discussion, a motion was made by Justin Frieler, seconded by Mr. Finken and unanimously carried to stand by the Abatement Agreement with St. Mary’s and the resolution that the City passed relating to historical places and take no other action.
Consideration was then given to the 2019 Meeting Schedule for any possible changes. The meetings for all months are scheduled for the third Thursday of the month, except for January which will have a meeting on both the first and third Thursday. The Council, by consensus, approved the 2019 meeting schedule.
Mayor Finken stated that after one of our officers was involved in a use of force incident, staff did a review of our policy. After reviewing other agencies’ policies, our current policy should be modified to allow for better clarification of what a ‘critical incident’ or ‘use of force’ incident is as well as allowing for more discretion and flexibility by the Chief in these situations. Police Chief Maus is requesting the adoption of the Critical Incident Policy by the Council. A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Justin Frieler and unanimously carried adopting the Critical Incident Policy.
Mayor Finken stated that the Utilities has three lights per tower facing the two separate water towers. They are currently 2000-watt standard lights. After a very complete review by the Electrical Supervisor, the cost to replace the lights with LED 600-watt lights would cost approximately $6,200. This is planned to occur in 2019. The estimate 10-year cost saving on standard to LED lights is a $4,400 savings. It has been discussed several times over the years, to change the lights on the tower to LED color-changing tower lights. The Electrical Supervisor has conducted a very complete review of technology and options. Four separate quotes have been secured to allow for this. The cost for this total project is estimated to cost $16,460 per tower for a total cost of $32,920. According to the sales rep, this cost will increase by 15% in 2019 due to the recent tariffs. It is estimated that gap in funding the lights is approximately $22,304 if you take into consideration the 10-year cost savings. The intent of a color-changing LED system would be for community support and pride for special events. The lights can be changed remotely and City staff would be able to manage the change. For instance, the light could be purple for home football games. It could then be red and green for the holidays, or other as desired. This is becoming more and more of common throughout the state. You see this on bridges, towers, buildings and other towers. The Public Utilities Commission approved a 50/50 cost share. Staff is seeking additional funding through donations or partnering with the Council. A motion was made by Mayor Finken approving funding up to 50% of the cost for color-changing LED lighting system and authorized staff to seek fundraising efforts. The motion was seconded by Justin Frieler with a roll call vote recorded as follows. FOR: Council Members Mayor Finken, Justin Frieler, Christenson, and Travis Frieler; AGAINST: Council Member Klasen
The following informational items were then reviewed:
a. The following is a list of schools and/or conferences where registrations were made:
1) Redevelopment Conference – November 1, 2018. Attending: Community Development Director Lisa Atkinson
2) Government Standard Updates and Best Practices – November 27, 2018 Attending: Finance Director Tessa Beuning
3) MNCPA Audits of Local Government Conference – October 22, 2018 Attending: Finance Director Tessa Beuning
b. Utilities Commission’s October 8 Regular Meeting minutes and the October 8 Special Meeting minutes with Industry.
A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Justin Frieler and unanimously carried that the meeting be adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Patricia Haase – City Clerk

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