The North Branch City Council Monday unanimously voted to enact a one-year moratorium on asphalt plants, but before that action was taken, Mayor Ron Lindquist informed the crowd of residents present for the discussion about a recent conversation he had with Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt.
Lindquist said he asked Messelt if the county would be willing to look countywide for the best possible spot for an overlay district in which asphalt plants could be allowed.
“He liked the idea,” Lindquist said. “He said, let’s have some discussion about this. I said that would be great.”
Lindquist noted at the May 28 City Council meeting the county does not have the authority to tell cities where and if they should allow businesses, but said it might be a worthwhile venture to work with the county to see if there could be a more apt location for a possible asphalt plant to be located than in the northern part of North Branch.
Residents who approached the council dais to address the issue were in favor of the council’s decision to enact a moratorium to study the effects of a possible asphalt plant in the city, but they still voiced their concern.
Laura Scaramell said she would like to have no asphalt plants or any additional heavy manufacturing in the city “especially in the 1 square mile where it was proposed up north.”
“There are so many houses there,” she said, noting she is concerned about groundwater pollution from a possible asphalt plant, toxicity in the air and noise.
Penny Corcoran, of Harris, said her city would also be affected if an asphalt plant were built in the northern part of North Branch because of the close proximity of the two cities, and she asked how residents can stay abreast of the issue as North Branch city staff study the feasibility of the overlay district.
City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said she and City Planner Ken Roberts would answer any calls from residents who have questions about the process.
Also during the meeting, the council approved updates to the city’s sign code, which is intended to simplify the code.
The updates address dynamic display signs; the old code did not.
Roberts said dynamic display signs in the city, according to the new code, can only change every 10 seconds, and if there’s a problem with a dynamic display sign, the operator must shut it down.
The city also parted ways with Thomas Miller and his law firm, Miller Stevens Law Office, during the meeting.
The council thanked Miller for his 16 years of service to the city. The new city attorney starting July 1 will be Jay Squires from Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger out of Minneapolis. The council did a Request For Proposals in April. In May, the council conducted interviews and then appointed Squires.