Stacy City Council briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the Feb. 11 Stacy City Council meeting. 

New playground approved at Doyle Field

With a full council and numerous additions to the agenda, the Stacy City Council opened the February regular meeting with a small audience of interested parties.

Up first were representatives of the Stacy Lions Club. The Lions Club is moving forward with plans for a playground at Doyle Memorial Field, which lacks a play area for children. The Lions have been looking to install playground equipment for two years.

With feedback from the participants in the 2013 state softball tournament that was overwhelmingly complimentary of Stacy and the softball facilities with the exception of options to occupy families during the games, the Lions said they would like to get started on this project as soon as weather permits. They’re anticipating a women’s championship tournament taking at Doyle this summer.

The Lions Club sought bids from several companies and agreed on Xccent Inc., of Wyoming, Minn.

“I personally think this is a good idea, but I want to make sure it meets our insurance requirements and any safety requirement,” Mayor Mark Utecht said. After brief discussion directing city staff to confer with the city’s insurer, the Doyle Field playground was approved unanimously.

Minnesota winter causing breaks in water pipes

Sunrise Estates Mobile Home Park was reportedly, in a sense, under water during this Minnesota winter.

Park owner Dustin Brakemeier explained to the Stacy council, “This winter we have had more freeze-ups than would normally occur, and when a pipe breaks, it runs onto the ground.” He requested a meeting to discuss city billing and water policies to address freeze-ups.

Brakemeier reported he surveyed municipalities and most will, when the problem occurs, reduce the bill for sewer that clearly wasn’t used. He cited information of a flat discount being offered to the property owner or a reduction on the average usage. Brakemeier added that the park’s average is 156,000 gallons per month but the January bill reflected usage of 228,000 gallons.

“I am asking to average the water bill out to offset the cost of the water,” Brakemeier said. Not one, but several breaks, occurred under a particular mobile home.

Utecht said exceptions to billing are not approved unless the city can verify that water didn’t run into the sewer system. Utecht cited as an example St. John’s Lutheran Church had an unfortunate incident of a leaky toilet that ran water, unknown to church staff, incurring quite a large bill by the time it was discovered and repaired. Church representatives had sought a reduction in the bill and the council declined their request.

“I think that a request for an adjustment on the sewer bill is a reasonable request to investigate,” Utecht said.

The mayor looked to city engineer Mark Statz to research when the leak started, how it occurred and what happened. Utecht asked Statz to come up with a probable explanation that matches the mobile home park’s claim.

Brakemeier thought the adjustment would amount to around $400 and said he doesn’t want the city to spend a great deal of time and energy researching the matter.

Utecht made a motion to delay the payment due on 73,000 gallons of sewer usage until the issue is resolved.

Council considers potential issues of tobacco, e-cigarettes and synthetic marijuana for sale in Stacy

A city resident came to City Hall regarding purchase of the former Sacred Grounds shop space. The unidentified resident has proposed opening a tobacco shop in the space in the Stacy Mall. Utecht will meet with the owner to discuss what type of tobacco shop he intends to open.

The council also discussed the sale and regulation of e-cigarettes. Utecht had another concern: synthetic marijuana. The mayor will also be inquiring about the possible sale of this as it crosses into the territory of illicit drugs.

“If people choose to use things that are legal, we should allow those in the city. What I don’t want to happen is for something to sneak in, such as synthetic marijuana,” Utecht said.

Stacy City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer mentioned the case of the head shop in Duluth and that it would benefit the city to be proactive rather than handle problems that may arise after such an establishment opens. Grundhoefer had already reviewed existing ordinances governing tobacco sales and use of “sampling rooms,” an exception to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. Councilor Chuck Lucia Utecht said he has read that one state has banned e-cigarettes indoors, considering them to be the same as regular cigarettes.

Utecht and Grundhoefer, from a preliminary discussion, suggested a moratorium on tobacco and tobacco-related sales in the city. The council felt there was not sufficient information to proceed.

“What I’m hearing here is that there isn’t necessarily support for a moratorium as we don’t feel it is appropriate for the city to deal with the licensing and regulation of this sort,” Utecht said.

Grundhoefer added, “Once the business gets operating, it’s a little more difficult to enforce that.”

Utecht said he is not inclined to make laws more restrictive than the laws that already exist.

“I don’t want to make it any more difficult for anyone to open a business in Stacy, but if anything illegal goes on, I will be the first one to call the sheriff,” he said.  The mayor asked Grundhoefer to research what the city would need to do if the city or county should designate e-cigarettes the same as a conventional tobacco product.

Traffic flow concern bubbles up on Kwik Trip property

Stacy City Engineer Mark Statz forwarded road plans to County Engineer Joe Triplett and to Kwik Trip representatives for review. Triplett responded that he had concerns about access on the northern side of the property. He expressed a concern that large trucks, if they were unable to make a turn immediately onto the access ramp, would be blocking the driveway entrance on the north side of the Kwik Trip.

While Triplett didn’t ask for changes at this time, he indicated the county would monitor the traffic flow for access issues into Kwik Trip from Stacy Trail. According to Statz, this response made Kwik Trip representatives “nervous.”

Statz pointed out there are no changes to the current access points or layout of the present configuration of the property. His opinion was that if there is a problem with larger vehicles turning and blocking the road, the entrance can be moved approximately 40 feet to the west.

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