Harris addresses compliance with well protection plan

The Harris City Council on March 11 learned about the steps necessary to stay in compliance with the wellhead protection plan as required by the state of Minnesota.

Presenting a review of the issue was Robyn Hoerr, groundwater specialist with the Minnesota Rural Water Association.

The city is required to protect its primary well because it’s the main source of potable water for the residents of Harris.

The current plan was adopted in 2003.  The proposal is to amend that plan to keep it in line with state standards.

Hoerr said she will work with the city to ensure all the proper steps are taken to protect the well.

Any repairs or upgrades that are needed following a review process will determine the cost of this initiative.

The Minnesota Department of Health offers grants that cities can utilize to help offset the cost of updating wellhead protection plans. The process has to be completed by August.

Noncompliant properties

The Harris Planning Commission recently sent the council a recommendation on how to deal with properties in the city that do not comply with city ordinances.

Before the commission took up the issue, the city did not have a specific method to deal with property complaints from residents. When complaints were made, they were handled on a case-by-case basis.

The protocol proposed by the commission would establish a procedure.

First, a resident would file a complaint with the city clerk.

The fire marshal or building inspector would then be dispatched to review the problem. One of those city officials would then draft a report with recommendations on how to remedy the problem, and that report would be sent to the council.

The council would then take action on the issue at a regular meeting.

Promoting tourism

Cathy Gervais, owner of Country Charm Mercantile, asked for help from the council to promote tourism in Harris.  Gervais had contacted the county after signs went up last year recognizing Old Highway 61 (County Road 30) as a nostalgic tourism route. At one time, Harris was on the main route north to Duluth and the North Shore. That ended when Interstate 35 was constructed.

Gervais had asked officials at the county what else they intended to do in order to promote tourism along Old Highway 61. The answer she received is that the county is selling kiosks, at $25 each, with tourist maps.

Gervais also asked the council if someone would be willing to purchase “Welcome to Harris” flags to put on the streetlights. Council members noted numerous aspects would have to be considered before making a decision to purchase flags.

The council said flags would have to fit into the brackets used for Christmas decorations, and the city’s electric company would have to be contacted to find out if it would allow flags.

It was decided more research needed to be done before approval could be granted.

In other news, the council: 

• Set the Harris Board of Equalization for 6 p.m. Monday, April 29.  This meeting gives residents the opportunity to challenge their property valuations.

• Denied a contract with the Chisago County Senior Center. The proposed contract would have been for the senior center to provide services to seniors in Harris, but the council deemed there was no money in the city’s budget for this venture.

• Approved the resignation of Harris Public Works employee Jason Zastera. The council decided a part-time person would again fill the position. Zastera agreed to train the person the city hires.

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