Stacy welcomes new city engineer

The city of Stacy has a new contract city engineer. Mark Statz, also employed by Stantec, took over for Chuck Schwartz earlier this month. Statz introduced himself and made a brief report to the council at its Sept. 10 meeting. Statz’s resume shows the same study background and work experience that Schwartz has.

“I have been serving small communities like yourself for years,” Statz said, noting he’s worked in Centerville, which is similar to Stacy. He will also be taking over Schwartz’s duties in the city of Harris.

Upcoming projects

It was noted during the meeting that Statz will pick up right where Schwartz left off, working on projects that include a rebuild of Forest Boulevard and the potential construction of a water treatment plant.

“Obviously I’ll be advocating for you guys on that,” Statz said of the possible water treatment plant construction.

Mayor Mark Utecht added the County Road 19 or Stacy bridge to the list of projects the council would like to see completed. He encouraged Statz to try driving it himself.

“(County Road 19) is rough, and there isn’t any pedestrian bridge,” Utecht said.

The mayor said he felt adding 4 feet on either side would alleviate the pedestrian concerns.

Utecht also said he was looking for feedback on issues surrounding the changes at the intersection of Stacy Trail and Forest Boulevard and the no parking zones along the two main thoroughfares in Stacy.

A resident questioned, “What is the city going to do about this?”

“The object is to make this safer,” Utecht began. He explained to his constituency who had packed City Hall that the city has to determine where parking could be allowed safely, given the changes to the intersections, though some of those changes may be temporary. The council will be making a final decision as to where the no parking zone lies. The council may ask the Sheriff’s Office to “renew” efforts to enforce no parking zones.

Residents concerned about roads

Stacy resident Mel Aslakson requested a map of the proposed no parking area that was described as extending from the intersection of Stacy Trail and Forest Boulevard north to 311th Street and on Stacy Trail extending west, south to River Bridge and east to Gable Avenue.

A number of residents said the city’s on-street parking is restrictive and there is insufficient available parking in the central business district.

“We’re trying to get businesses into this town; closing down parking is not in the best interest of this community,” a resident said to the council.

Statz interjected that a memo from County Engineer Joe Triplett shows the aerial photograph of the impact of the proposed changes. The county road improvement plan does not include on-street parking, as the city will have to sketch a plan in accordance with the Stacy ordinance. The city’s comprehensive plan may need revision to accommodate the changes.

Utecht said the city needs to address both what the parking looks like right now and what it will look like when the road improvement project is completed. The county will provide the no parking signs, no matter what length of road the city chooses.

Statz said recommendations for no parking zones will be based on traffic flow.

Councilor Jim Ness said he felt the recommendations that are being floated “are not practical at all for us.” He proposed 40 feet on both sides from the stop signs.

While there is support for new turn lanes, there is also contention as to the length and width. At the last few council meetings, Stacy has heard from numerous residents that the turn lanes are not helpful, and Triplett said the lanes are a temporary solution.

The city maintenance department had also declared a no parking area on its own, painting adjacent curbs yellow. When asked about this action, as the paint was seen as a rather permanent solution, Utecht acknowledged, “That was a mistake.”

The maintenance department was asked to repaint all no parking zones, since they had misread the map. Ness made a motion for the curbs to be repainted “tomorrow.” After asking City Maintenance Supervisor Tanner Jones if this was possible, the motion carried unanimously.

“I think that is materially the way the curbs were painted before, so I don’t see the need for council action,” Utecht said. Whatever is left open between the aprons is available parking. The mayor argued that 5 feet of yellow curb from an apron would work, but questioned if the city should declare no parking such a distance to the east in front of the Rustic Inn. The residents at the meeting said they would be affable to that suggestion.

Utecht thanked the residents for their input and urged anyone concerned about the issue to attend Planning Commission or council meetings where discussion will be ongoing.

In other news

• The city has finalized an emergency management plan, thanks to Joe Meyer and Chisago County Director of Emergency Management Scott Sellman.

• Stacy resident Paul Witkowski requested an update on the issue he and his neighbors are experiencing with the noise levels from Royal Concrete Pipe. Utecht spoke to the special council meeting on Aug. 27 where the city adopted Minnesota Pollution Control Agency rule 7030 of Minnesota Statute 116.07. The rule governs standards that quantify “how much noise is too much,” the mayor said. Both are in effect at a state level and Utecht described it as “cleaner” for the city to adopt a clearer noise ordinance. The council is pursuing additional changes to the nuisance ordinance to address the problem, as well.

• City Maintenance Supervisor Tanner Jones and city maintenance worker Robert Gustafson are enrolled in training to obtain water and sewer operator certification and licenses.

• City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer distributed a draft of the purchase agreement of city land by the North Branch Area Hockey Association. He said the transaction has come to a standstill. “We don’t have any details on what they actually want to buy yet,” Grundhoefer said.

• The convenience store company Kwik Trip is coming to Stacy. The city Planning Commission will be meeting Sept. 24 in a public hearing on issuance of a conditional use permit for the business. The council is hoping to see a renovation of the Sunrise Market and repaving of the surrounding parking surface. Kwik Trip officials will attend to discuss the project.

• The council approved a 2014 levy of $393,356, a decrease from 2013 of approximately $9,000. The proposed budget reflects expected revenues of $484,747. General government showed an increase in cost, but most other areas of the budget showed a modest decrease in expenditures. The council approved resolution 2013-9-1 unanimously. The required 2014 Truth in Taxation meeting is 6 p.m. Dec. 10.

• The Park and Recreation committee is lacking a chairperson in the absence of Councilor Cindy Bruss.  Utecht named Tony Olivolo as acting chair until Bruss is able to return. According to city records, Bruss last attended a council meeting on July 9. Utecht has spoken to Bruss, who showed no indication that she would relinquish the seat.

Bruss is dealing with a long-term health issue and doesn’t know when she will be able to return to the council. The city must wait until October for her to return to her seat and at that point may seek to fill a vacancy. The council agreed to publish a request for letters of interest to consider at the Oct. 10 meeting.

• Ness began revising a snowmobile ordinance “many months ago.” The changes were presented to the council for approval. The most significant change is that the ordinance has created corridors or trails from 311th Street to Tim’s Country Cupboard, and then to 307th Street north to the main business district using the frontage road. Ness said this is a compromise from his wanting to ban snowmobiles in the downtown area. “If we don’t have room to park cars, we certainly don’t have room for snowmobiles running up and down Stacy Trail and Forest Boulevard.”

Ordinance 2013-9-3 received a perhaps fitting frosty response when brought out for a vote. Councilmember Ness argued snowmobiles should be banned in the downtown area. Councilmember Carlson concurred but agreed with Utecht that there is a business aspect to allowing snowmobiles in at least a restricted area. The motion to approve carried two to one with Ness voting no. Ness then requested city maintenance staff to purchase and post “no snowmobiling” signs for all city sidewalks by the time snow falls. The updated ordinance information will also be added to a fall newsletter and shared with local snowmobile clubs.

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