August 25, 2008
The City Administrator pointed out an error in the minutes of the August 4, 2008 City Council meeting, indicating the Council granted a 40’ set-back variance to Mr. Corcoran – not a 45’. August, 2008 claims (reviewed by Councilmembers Brinkman and Ledebuhr) totaled $190,475.97 for the following operating funds:
General Fund $144,495.42
Water Service Fund 29,673.26
Sewer Service Fund 16,307.29
Mayor Weimerskirch opened the continuation of the public hearing concerning the request of Mr. Mike Corcoran to be granted a square footage variance for the proposed property at 4960 Service Drive. Mr. Corcoran has revised his request from an 18-unit complex to one housing 15 units. This would be an overage of square feet of approximately 11 percent. He also told the Council Mr. Wittenberg plans to ask the Council at their September 8, 2008 meeting for a square foot variance of about 5,500 square feet, or a 5.5% variance. Fire Chief Bambenek indicated he has reviewed plans for both sites, and doesn’t feel like the Fire Department will have any trouble with either one. Mayor Weimerskirch sid he believes building an apartment complex on the site is an appropriate use for the space. Councilmember Ledebuhr disagreed with the Mayor stating that he believes the City needs businesses, and the site should be left zoned for Light Manufacturing. Councilmember Bowman expressed his displeasure with Mr. Wittenberg for knowingly breaking the rules when it comes to the square footage requirement. He went on to say the City doesn’t need to change our requirements because one individual didn’t comply with the rules. For that reason, Councilmember Bowman moved and Councilmember Ledebuhr seconded to deny Mr. Corcoran’s request for a square footage variance for his proposed project. During the discussion phase of the motion, Councilmember Brinkman indicated he is not opposed to a 5.5% variance due to the fact the Fire Department is okay with the project and the green space is equal to the Wittenberg project. He also expressed he is in favor of increasing the tax base of the City by any means possible. Councilmember Andring pointed out he also is in favor of a maximum variance of 5.5%. Councilmember Bowman reiterated it is his belief Mr. Wittenberg shouldn’t be allowed his variance if, and when, he requests one of the Council, because he took advantage of the City by not requesting a variance in the first place. He went on to say he believes none of this whole issue would have taken place if the City had a building inspector (a subject the Council will address in the coming months). Mr. Corcoran asked the Council if the City would have a problem with a business going in on the site in question instead of an apartment complex, of which the answer was no since that is what the area is zoned for. He also stated he can live with only building a 13-unit complex, and understands the reasons why a variance wouldn’t be granted. The motion to deny the square footage variance was voted on, and was passed four to one with Mayor Weimerskirch casting the only nay vote. Mr. Corcoran indicated if he did proceed with an apartment complex, it would only have 13 units, but did request the Council to re-consider the requirement for a fence on the back lot line. Councilmember Brinkman moved and Councilmember Andring seconded to amend the original set-back variance approved at the August 4, 2008 meeting to not include the requirement for a fence. The motion passed four to one, with Councilmember Ledebuhr casting the nay vote. The public hearing was closed at 5:28 p.m.
Senator Steve Murphy was in attendance to give the Council a review of the past legislative session. Councilmember Bowman expressed the Council’s feelings that the next level of government (the State) should be just as efficient and financially responsible to its constituencies as cities and towns are. City Administrator Dan Matejka asked the Senator if he is willing to back the 4% increase in LGA, signed into law for 2010, even when the State is faced with a potential $2 billion deficit for the next biennium. Although the Senator didn’t exactly say yes, he did say he has always stood up for LGA and he believes other areas will be touched before a cut in LGA is considered.
During the community input/comment section of the agenda, Ms. Linda Pfeilsticker (a challenger to Representative Steve Drazkowski) spoke to the Council. Winona County Commissioner Dwayne Voegeli also was present, and he gave the Council an update on a few different topics at the County level. He indicated the County is nowhere near having the topic of a county-wide building inspector position discussed, and thus the City shouldn’t wait for the County to do something on the subject. He also said there are some jurisdiction boundary issues that may impact the City in the near future, and it would be wise for the City to stay in touch on the subject. Finally, both he and Councilmember Bowman gave an update on the latest meeting of the Garvin Brook Watershed Alliance (GBWA). The alliance is basically stuck and stalled at this time in trying to do a construction study. This is mainly due to a lack of funds, meaning nothing will get done until funds can be located – possibly through a grant.
Councilmember Ledebuhr questioned if there is anything the City can do to have the trains running through the City cut down on their whistles, of which he was told no. According to the City’s Director of Public Works, the City needs to get medians installed on all three crossings before the City can go whistle-free. Councilmember Brinkman praised the City’s Maintenance Department for the nice job they did on cleaning up after the Goodview Days parade. The Mayor congratulated several groups and/or individuals; the first was the Garvin Brook committee on a very nice celebration held over the weekend at LaCanne Park. He also congratulated Deputy Chief Russell for receiving a Humanitarian Award from the committee for his actions during and following the flood. Finally congratulations were given to the Goodview Activity Group (GAG) and the Goodview Fire Department for another successful Goodview Days celebration.
Councilmember Andring moved and Councilmember Ledebuhr seconded to approve the request to hold a Lighted Holiday Parade on December 6, 2008.
A third voting precinct was established and polling places designated because the newly annexed areas of Rollingstone Township included more than 50 registered voters. It was also done to accommodate the boundary lines set for the Winona County Commissioner District 3 election. The City received six bids for the utility and street improvement for the Saehler-Anderson subdivision, with Winona Excavating Company being the low bid of $1,361,787.86. It must be done by November 15, 2008 for at least the lower section of the sub-division.