Harris City Council briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the April 14 Harris City Council meeting. 

Push for compliance with properties

The Harris City Council is working at getting properties into compliance and keeping them there. On Monday night, resident Richard Johnson brought a request for a conditional use permit to operate an auction facility on an industrial-zoned property. The first problem to surmount was that auction facilities are not allowed in an industrial zone in Harris, even with a conditional use permit. The Planning Commission had reviewed the application prior to the council seeing it. Based on the permit and the restrictions that could be put on the operation, the council decided to change the zoning ordinance to allow an auction facility as a special use.

Gambling ordinance addressed 

The gambling ordinance was also changed. The present ordinance requires an application fee be paid to the city. The state of Minnesota already charges an application fee, which means the city cannot also require a fee. The city can charge an investigative fee, but not an additional application fee. This was done when the North Branch Area Hockey Association was granted a gambling permit for Big Daddy’s; the council took two actions to address that permit. The first was to change the ordinance to do away with the application fee and set an investigative fee. The second action was to refund the application fee to the North Branch Area Hockey Association, to bring the city into compliance.

Action needed to address Highlands oversight

The city became aware of interest in the Highlands of Harris property, and action needed to be taken to correct an oversight. When Highlands was being developed, the developers made improvements that included the installation of sanitary sewer lines that direct sewage to the waste water treatment facility and to the force main from the facility to Goose Creek. This system was necessary when the ponds were replaced by the present treatment facility. The installation of the improvements was part of the construction agreement for the Highlands. The council then took two actions: The first was to accept the improvements made under the Highlands Sanitary Sewer Construction Agreement and approve an certificate of acceptance documenting the city’s ownership of the improvements. The next action was to release the Highlands sanitary sewer construction agreement once the certificate of acceptance is filed at the County Recorder’s Office.

City grader in poor condition

Jason Zastera, part-time public works employee for the city, told the council about the poor condition of the grader the city owns. It has 9,300 hours on it, 3,400 since the last overhaul. Because the grader leaks about a gallon of oil a week, it was decided to have the grader looked at to see what needed to be repaired. Zastera reviewed what needed to be done and decided that the cost of the repairs would be approximately $65,000. The grader is only worth about $20,000.

Zastera looked at two options. The first was with Larsen Equipment in Cambridge. A 2008 CAT is available for $143,000. There is 3,568 hours on the grader, and Larsen Equipment is not interested in taking the present grader in on trade.

Zastera has another option that will become available soon: LacQui Parle County is trading in a 2001 CAT 140HNA with 6,430 hours. The cost would be $125,000, and the deal could allow a $20,000 trade-in on the present grader.

Zastera said that although the present grader needs major work, it is presently functioning.

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