Melrose City October 18, 2018


The Melrose City Council met in a Regular Meeting on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Melrose City Center pursuant to due notice being given thereof. Present were Council Members Dick Christenson, Tony Klasen, Justin Frieler, and Mayor Joe Finken, City Administrator Michael Brethorst, and City Clerk Patti Haase. Also in attendance were Adam Ripple with Rinke Noonan, Murray Mack with HMA Architects, Gerry Osendorf, Betty Kemper, Santina Lovelace, Micki Lovelace, Jesse Lovelace, Kurt Schwieters, Mark Meyer, Vern Hollermann, Kenny Hinnenkamp, and approximately 100 members of the public. Mayor Finken presided thereat.
The Council then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Finken asked Fr. Marvin Enneking to start the meeting in prayer. Fr. Enneking led the public in prayer.
A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to approve the agenda as submitted.
Gerry Osendorf – born and raised in Melrose. Mr. Osendorf requested that the Council table the decision on the Conditional Use Permit and Variance due to the pending lawsuit in place regarding Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) law. The law stated that if a building on the Historic Registry has been damaged and can be brought back to the condition it was in prior to the damage, it must be repaired. Service Master, Braun Intertec and Doug Henning certified the building to be structurally sound.
When Bishop Kettler turned down the request to restore and the Parish Council failed to offer an alternative plan, the Friends to Restore St. Mary’s filed a lawsuit to have MERA enforced to prevent destruction of the building shortly after Easter Week 2017. Two meditation meetings were scheduled in an attempt to resolve the lawsuit; however, both sessions were inconclusive. A summary judgement hearing was held in St. Cloud in July where the opposition wanted to get the case dismissed. They had three reasons for dismissal:
1. This was a liturgical matter and the Bishop alone had the power to do what he wanted.
2. The Diocese has no record of St. Mary’s being on the National Historic Registry.
3. At one time, there were two Catholic churches in Melrose and that didn’t work very well. So, if the new church was built and St. Mary’s wasn’t destroyed, there would again be two churches in Melrose and he didn’t want that.
The judge then took the case under advisement and will render a judgement in 60 days.
Mr. Osendorf also recommended a traffic study be conducted due to the new Jennie-O Turkey Store scheduled to open in January 2019 and their plan to use Kraft Drive as their main route for trucks coming from the west and south. Therefore, Mr. Osendorf is recommending the Council table this matter until judgment has been rendered.
Santina Lovelace – Melrose resident and a member of Friends to Restore St. Mary’s. Ms. Lovelace noted that there is a pending lawsuit in place that addresses the historical and environmental significance of St. Mary’s Church. What is the plan when Friends to Restore St. Mary’s wins this lawsuit? There is so much being said about the parish versus the community. Isn’t the community most of this parish. If this church is built, there will be so many that leave the community by way of leaving the parish. It has also been said that once the church is gone, so is the community. This community cannot support a multimillion-dollar campus once it is built. With so many lawsuits and bankruptcy filing amongst the church and Dioceses, how can the Diocese sustain this for the future. The current church can be restored. There are grants available for restoration that can solve this issue. If the campus uses land deemed for cemetery expansion which goes back to Cannon Law, where will the cemetery continue? Ms. Lovelace encouraged the Council to think about how this will affect this community parish.
Jesse Lovelace – Melrose resident for 54 years. He liked the area and stayed. Mr. Lovelace stated that he has some things he would like the Council to consider:
• Does the Church have clear title to this land? Is it documented?
• Does the Council have documented proof that the land is environmentally sound and safe to build on?
• Does the church have the deeds to the parcels that have been donated the church for the express use of expanding the cemetery? Does the church have the original deeds?
• Believes a traffic study should be conducted. There is a lot of truck traffic on east Kraft Drive. There is noise pollution.
• Also, North American Indian Artifacts have been found in the area. If any of these artifacts are disturbed it may cause a problem.
• Where is the insurance money from the fire? Has it been spent? Was it designated for restoration only? If so, there may be insurance fraud. Mr. Lovelace asked the Council to be cautious when making their decision.
Kurt Schwieters stated that he stands with you today in gratitude for all the parishioners and volunteers who have worked so hard for us to be here today. He also stands here in gratitude for the Planning and Zoning Commission and their unanimous support recommendation for granting the Conditional Use Permit and Variance. He stands with you in gratitude for the City Council, Mayor, City Administrator and staff, for all their hard work, attention, and time involved with this. He also stands in gratitude and wishes to explain one motion that was brought up at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting regarding any nuisance issues regarding our damaged structure. He stated to please know that the Church of St. Mary’s pledges responsibility in addressing any nuisance issue related to the fire damaged structure. The City should not feel responsible or vulnerable regarding any costs related to the current structure or nuisance issues. He also stated that he stands in gratitude for today for this time for us to move forward together in healing. He thanked the Council for their consideration and support of the Conditional Use Permit and Variance and the agreement of the Church of St. Mary’s to be responsible for any nuisance related issue costs or concerns.
Mark Meyer – Melrose resident and practiced law for a long time. Mr. Meyer supports the idea of the new church being proposed; however, he has no argument with those opposing the new church. Mr. Meyer noted how easy it is for him to roll into the City Center, which he stated is a source of pride for the community. He stated this building was a huge and bold undertaking and it took courage. It was a lot of money and there was tremendous opposition. The Council stood their ground, figured it out and got it done. Mr. Meyer noted that old people will not sustain this community forever. There has got to be something that will bring in young people who have children who will populate our schools and take care of jobs and things that have to be done and pay the taxes. He stated that we must have state-of-the-art facilities and amenities that are going to appeal to the artistic and spiritual values that people want to have. He stated that we have people that work remotely; however, if we provide a beautiful community with amenities and facilities that people can enjoy, the young people will come and Melrose will survive forever. Mr. Meyer would like to think that we are laying the ground work to keep this community going forever. Mr. Meyer reminded the audience how the City Center is the pride of this community. He stated that it was difficult and expensive back then, he could only image what it would cost today. It was a wise decision. Mr. Meyer stated that building this new church will be a rough road. He urged the City Council to take the bumps out of the road for the construction of the new church.
Vern Hollermann – baptized and married in St. Mary’s Church and taught religion for 35 years. Mr. Hollermann stated that he did woodworking for most of his life. He also stated that some the pews in the church had been previously damaged by a fire and his grandfather refurbished them. Mr. Hollermann provided insight to the sedilia as well as the work that had been done to the church pews. Mr. Hollermann noted the beautiful church that he was proud to show his religion students. He asked that consideration be given to restoring the church.
Kenny Hinnenkamp stated that yes, in fact St. Mary’s is a beautiful church and because of that church, he has turned his life around. He was disabled as the church is now. All his life he has wanted to improve himself. It’s all about efficiency and improvement. The doctors in the City has improved his health. Improve yourself as much as you can for the community and the young ones. Think about the efficient and improvement for the next 100 years.
The following items were considered for approval under the Consent Agenda:
a. The minutes from the Council’s September 20 Regular Meeting.
b. List of bills in the amount of $714,704.81.
c. List of investments for the month of September.
d. Ambulance Department uncollectible accounts in the amount of $1,218.44 have been submitted to Revenue Recapture, collections, or written off. A complete list of accounts is on file at the City Center.
e. There were no uncollectible accounts for the Fire Department in the third quarter. There was a total of $125 collected from account holders during this time.
f. Police Officer Jeff Eggert will complete three years of service November 1. Police Chief Craig Maus conducted a review and it is favorable; therefore, recommends approval of a step increase from Step 2 to Step 3.
The Council to take action approving Officer Eggert’s step increase.
g. Part Time Streets/Parks Worker Allen Wolbeck has completed three years of service with the City on September 30. Streets/Parks Supervisor Gary Middendorf conducted a review and it is favorable; therefore, recommends approval of a step increase from Step 1 to Step 2.
The Council to take action approving Mr. Wolbeck’s step increase.
h. Donation Resolution:
1) Resolution No. 2018-50, donation in the amount of $500 from Melrose Legion Post 7050 towards the Melrose Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Kick-Off Fireworks
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda items.
The City Council held a Public Hearing at 6:37 p.m. to determine if conditions identified on the property located at 215 Main Street E are a public nuisance and consider issuing orders to abate the nuisance. Attorney Scott Dymoke provided an overview of the nuisance violations and the process of abating the nuisance. Due to an oversight in the paperwork, this Public Hearing is being held to allow the property owner the opportunity to appear before the Council. There is no new information to be presented regarding the public nuisance. There being no further comment, the Public Hearing was closed at 6:39 p.m.
Police Chief Craig Maus presented the Police Department’s September report. He noted there were 465 calls for service during that month, compared to 306 for September 2017. A total of 33 citations were written for the month of September. The year-to-date number of calls is 3,988 compared to 2,614 in 2017. For the month of September 2018, the Department received 25 agency assist calls.
City Attorney Scott Dymoke reported on projects he has been working on for the City:
• St. Mary’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and Variance Application: Worked with City staff to respond to St. Mary’s application requests, prepare planning reports, and recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Attended Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on CUP and Variance applications.
Community Development Director Lisa Atkinson provided an overview of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s October 1 Meeting. Ms. Atkinson noted that approximately 110 people attended this meeting. The Commission reviewed and made recommendation on the Conditional Use Permit Application and Variance request submitted by St. Mary’s Church. Ms. Atkinson provided an update on the building permits for the third quarter. The Melrose Area Development Authority (MADA) will meet on November 8. Yoga Melrose would like to relocate to 308 Main Street E. They are requesting the $5,000 commercial deferred loan for storefront improvements.
Mayor Finken stated that earlier this evening, a Public Hearing was held to determine if conditions identified on the property located at 215 Main Street E are a public nuisance and consider issuing orders to abate the nuisance.City Attorney Dymoke stated that if the Council wishes to move forward with the abatement of the nuisance conditions for the above listed property, they will need to take action adopting the resolutions. In so doing, the property owner has 30 days in which to come into compliance with the applicable City codes and regulations. A motion for summary enforcement of the order will be made to the Stearns County District Court unless correction action is taken, or unless an answer is filed within the time specified in Minn. Stat. §463.18 which is 20 days. If the City must take action to enforce this order, all enforcement costs will be specially assessed against the property and collected in accordance with Minn. Stat. §463.22, §463.21 and §463.161. Council Member Frieler introduced Resolution No. 2018-51, Superseding Resolution No. 2018-44 Adopted On September 20, 2018 Ordering The Abatement Of Nuisance Conditions Located At 215 Main Street East, Melrose, MN. The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Frieler, Klasen, and Mayor Finken AGAINST: None ABSTAIN: Council Member Christenson
Case No. CUP-8-2018-403. Following its review of the Planning Report, the related information and associated documents and the Conditional Use Permit application, the Council gave consideration to the Conditional Use Permit application for a church in the R-1, Single-Family Zoning District. The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its October 1 meeting, by a unanimous vote, recommended the Council approve the Conditional Use Permit application. Community Development Director Atkinson stated that there are two applications before the Council submitted by St. Mary’s church.
The applications are:
1) Conditional Use Permit (CUP-8-2018-403) to allow construction of a new church on land zoned R-1; and
2) Variance (VAR-8-2018-103) Single Family Residential, with a height exceeding the 40-foot maximum height.
The property address of the proposed new structure is 755 Kraft Drive SE. It is generally located 1,000 feet east of the intersection of Kraft Drive SE and 5th Avenue SE.
The City received the applications for the Variance and Conditional Use permit on August 31, 2018. The public hearing notice was published on September 19, 2018 and mailed to property owners within 350 feet on September 20, 2018 at which time it was also posted as required. Affidavits regarding the public hearing were included in the packet. The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its October 1 meeting, held a public hearing on both the Conditional Use Permit and the Variance. By a unanimous vote, the Commission recommended the Council approve both applications, with conditions. After the Council was emailed the agenda for this meeting, staff had further discussions with the applicant regarding condition 24 on the proposed Conditional Use Permit resolution. The applicants have asked that condition 24 on the Conditional Use Permit resolution be removed and a separate agreement be adopted in instead. The “Abatement Agreement” was drafted by the applicant. Comments and revisions to the document were made by staff which were approved by the applicants. Procedurally, the Abatement Agreement would be authorized by the Council prior to the Conditional Use Permit consideration and conditioned to be valid only if the Conditional Use Permit gets approved.
Murray Mack with HMA Architects presented the site plan of the new St. Mary’s campus. Mr. Mack stated that they have been working with St. Mary’s on this for almost three years and they have an excellent design for the proposed new church.
Mr. Mack also noted that soil borings have been completed and the soil is acceptable for a construction site. Council Member Christensen inquired as to the seating capacity of the new church and if it had originally been designed for 600 people and then changed to 800. Mr. Mack said the capacity has been changed over the design period. Mr. Christenson also asked if they had a cost estimate. Mr. Mack stated not at this time; however, there will be a budget meeting on November 1, 2018.
City Administrator Brethorst stated that during the open forum, there was an environment concern regarding potential North American Indian Artifacts. Mr. Brethorst stated an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) would be performed that would address this issue.
Mr. Brethorst also addressed the request to delay taking action on the Conditional Use Permit. Per Minnesota State Statute, a Conditional Use Permit must be acted upon with 60 days unless the applicant is given. If not acted upon within this time frame, the Conditional Use Permit is automatically approved.
Council Member Klasen stated that as a liaison for the Planning and Zoning Commission, there was concern regarding the costs associated with the upkeep/demotion of the existing building. He does not want to see the taxpayers having to take on this burden. There was a condition addressing this in the Conditional Use Permit; however, St. Mary’s objected. Mr. Klasen stated that in a conversation with a St. Mary’s representative, they arrived at a solution by drafting an Abatement Agreement. Mr. Klasen noted that it was mentioned that if this gets to complicated, there may be no masses in Melrose. He did not want to see this happen.
Council Member Christenson stated that he has heard arguments for and against the new church. Mr. Christenson stated that as far as not having masses in the City of Melrose, he does not think God would want that. Unfortunately, the community is split and there is no real winner; however, the procedure is pretty straight forward.
Mayor Joe Finken stated that he is way exhausted on this. Mr. Finken went on to say how he, as a firefighter, has been involved with this from the start – 1,317 days ago. He comes from a very devout Roman Catholic family. He has had some great role models and religious role models in his life, Fr. Leiser and Juliann Heller.
Mr. Finken said that he truly cares about each and every one of us, as this is his Catholic faith. Mr. Finken stated he wanted to tell about that day, 1,317 days ago when he saw the flames. His first thought was that the church would be gone. When he got there, the first thing they did was to take a crew into the basement to rescue as many historical artifacts as they could because they believed in a few hours, the church would be destroyed. He went for the St. Patrick’s Last Supper art piece When Fire Chief Jeremy Kraemer arrived at the scene, he said they were going to try and save the church. Mr. Finken stated that he prayed to God because none of them have ever experienced such a dangerous thing as fighting a fire like that. He prayed to Mary to bless the church. He prayed to St. Joseph to watch over his family in case he did not survive. He prayed to St. Florian to help him fight the fire. He stated it was so dark inside the church, they could not see themselves. The plaster was falling, the floor shook, and the heat was so exhausting. He snuck around the church and continued to grab artifacts and hand them off to Fr. Mitch. Mr. Finken told a fellow firefighter, Noah Van Beck, to go to the alter where the Holy Relics were and retrieve them. Mr. Finken went on to say that what happened that day was nothing short than a modern-day miracle. When they knew the fire was out, he sat in a pew and prayed in thanks not knowing it would be the last time he would sit in a pew in St. Mary’s Church. He stated that they accomplished something that most fire departments, something that full-time fire departments, do not do. They saved the building. The one regret he still has to this day is when the fire was over, he didn’t ring the bell to let everyone know they saved the church. He stated that they all did it, all 90 of them. He did it for 117 years’ worth of parishioners. Since that day, 1,317 days ago, he has not had a good night’s sleep and there is nothing he thinks more about every day. Watching everything unfold as it did, he knew which way it was going to go. In his own opinion, he felt deceived believing that St. Cloud knew from that day what they were going to do. The day after the fire, he felt that they could have restored the church, they could have built on a gathering area, and money would not have been an option, it would not have been a problem. There was no doubt in his mind that the Parish of St. Mary’s would be the star of the St. Cloud Diocese. He stated that the decision not to rebuild fractured this community and will live on long after we are dead. Within his family, there is a possibility of losing two generations of Catholics. He has to tell his children that he believes in the teachings of the Catholic church but not in some of his teachers. Mr. Finken went on to thank Ben Ellering as he went out of this way to ask him to come to the planning meetings. Being a firefighter there is a true brotherhood among them. He is very grateful to this day for trying to bring him into this community of faith. He also added to please not forget about us loyal Catholics who love our parish, which our souls are still in the St. Mary’s Church. Mr. Finken stated that he forgives the child that started the fire. A child burned the church, but he feels the leadership all the way down to St. Cloud destroyed our parish.
A motion was made by Mr. Frieler, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried approving the Abatement Agreement and authorizing the Mayor and City Administrator to sign the “Abatement Agreement” regarding the fire-damaged St. Mary’s church structure, subject to approval of CUP-8-2018-403.
Council Member Finken introduced Resolution No. 2018-52, Resolution Approving Case No. CUP-8-2018-403 Application from St. Mary’s Church To Build A New Church Facility As Allowed By CUP In A R-1, Single-Family Residential District. The motion was seconded by Mr. Klasen with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Mayor Finken, Council Members Klasen, Christenson, and Frieler AGAINST: None
Case No. VAR-8-2018-103. Following its review of the Planning Report, the related information and associated documents and the Variance application the Council gave consideration to the Variance application to exceed the 40 feet height limit in the R-1, Single-Family Zoning District. The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its October 1 meeting, by a unanimous vote, recommended the Council approve the Variance request.
Council Member Christenson introduced Resolution No. 2018-53, Resolution Approving Case No. VAR-8-2018-103 Application for a Variance from the 40’ Maximum Height in the R-1, Single-Family Residential District. The motion was seconded by Mr. Frieler with a roll call vote recorded as follows: FOR: Council Members Christenson, Frieler, Klasen, and Mayor Finken AGAINST: None
Mayor Finken presented the first invoice from Stearns County towards the road construction contract currently in Melrose. The invoice with the 5% retainage is in the amount of $57,081.11. The City has some participation responsibility towards the CSAH 65 sidewalk project. A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried approving payment of Pay Application #1 from Stearns County in the amount of $57,081.11.
Mayor Finken noted that the Melrose City Center was built in 1990 and the HVAC system is original to the construction of the building. A facility assessment was recently completed, which stated that a phase replacement of the entire system should begin in 2019. The phasing is as follows:
• Condensing unit and air handling unit
• Boiler and VAV upgrades
• HVAC control systems
Staff has consulted with a third-party vendor with ties to the community (Climate Air and Finken) and they support the concept of phased approach. They did agree that the condensing units and air handling units should be the priority for FY 19. The Utilities Commission has reviewed the proposal from SEH and support the phased approach. The Commission took action funding 50% of the bid specification for Phase I. Council Member Klasen stated that he has contacted two commercial HVAC companies. Mr. Klasen would like to have these companies meet with staff to look at a design-built option.
Mayor Finken noted that at the Council’s first meeting in January 2019, consideration will be given to making appointments to the various boards and commissions. A notice regarding same will be published informing residents that those interested in seeking appointment should submit their application to the City Clerk by no later than Friday, November 9. Applications are available at the Melrose City Center. Terms are expiring on the following boards and commissions:
• Planning and Zoning Commission – one member (four-year term)
Terms expiring: Shawn Mayers
• Melrose Public Utilities Commission – one member (three-year term)
Term expiring: Jeremy Kraemer
Mayor Finken stated that the City Council has declared a vacancy on the Council due to the resignation of Council Member Josh Thieschafer. Minnesota law states that a vacancy shall be filled by Council appointment. The Council must take its best efforts to appoint a person to fill a Council vacancy and cannot choose to leave a Council position vacant until the term expires. Minnesota law does not require a Council vacancy to be advertised. The appointment is valid when a quorum of the Council is present, a majority vote of those present is enough to make the appointment. If it is a tie vote, a Mayor can appoint any qualified person willing to fill the vacancy even if that person was not the subject of the original appointment vote. The Council can establish any sort of application they so choose to fill the position. Due to the upcoming election on November 6, 2018, one option is to nominate for consideration the person who earns the highest vote count in the General Election. Another option is to seek out applicants in the community that have previously served on the Council to fill the remaining two-month term. The final option is to place an ad in the paper and seek all eligible applicants to submit an application very similar to that of the traditional employee vacancy and conduct interviews and then select based on those interviews. A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried that the Council vacancy be filled by the individual that receives the highest votes at the November General Election.
Mayor Finken stated that Stearns County will be placing two parcels on the public auction on November 13 at 6:30 p.m. The City has special assessments levied against the two parcels that are located in the City limits. Parcel One (Seth Peterson) is a vacant lot and the County has set the minimum bid of $1,000. The City has $20,886.74 worth of special assessments against the parcel for the cost of demolition and legal costs for the demolition of the parcel. Parcel Two (I-94 Industrial property) is vacant land with a storage unit on it. The County has set a minimum bid of $170,000. The City has $12,649.66 worth of special assessments for the cost of utilities stubbed into the parcel. If the parcels are to sell at public auction, the City has two options available, recertify the special assessment or set a new reduced assessment. It is recommended to write off the special assessment against the Seth Peterson parcel as the lot is not buildable and has gone up for tax auction in the past. The lot can only be used as open/green space or merged with the neighbor. It is recommended to keep the special assessment on the I-94 Industrial property as is. A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to write down the City of Melrose Special Assessments against PID 66.37274.000 (306 2nd Street SE) to a total of $10,000 from the $20,886.74. A motion was then made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to keep the special assessment on the I-94 Industrial property. (PID 66.36436.0000, 66.36442.0000, 66.36944.0000 (420 2nd Street SW)).
The following informational items were reviewed:
a. Melrose Ambulance Department Quarterly Report.
b. Utilities Commission’s September 10 Regular Meeting minutes.
c. Charter Communications correspondence.
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Finken and unanimously carried that the meeting be adjourned at 7:25 p.m.
Patricia Haase, City Clerk