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Sidewalk alcohol service debated by council; ordinance being drafted

Allowing restaurants the option of serving alcohol on city sidewalks next to their businesses came up for discussion during Monday night's Mitchell City Council meeting at City Hall.

The council heard a request from Cornerstone Coffeehouse and Deli, 123 E. Third Ave., to allow sidewalk consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Cornerstone Coffee partowner Geri Beck, a former member of the council, said the business doesn't want to create a burden, but wants to offer an option for customers.

Councilmen Greg McCurry and Marty Barington urged drafting an ordinance to allow alcohol sales outside of restaurants on city sidewalks.

Councilman Mel Olson said he isn't sure if he favors allowing people to consume alcohol outside in the city.

Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg said under current city law, customers may not consume alcohol outside of licensed businesses. Doing so is an open-container offense, Overweg said.

He said that if a new ordinance is adopted, officers would learn which businesses are allowed to serve alcohol outside.

City Attorney Randy Stiles discussed drafting regulations on sidewalk cafes. How much of the sidewalk should be kept open, the height of umbrellas, the type of chairs and other details should be determined, Stiles said.

The council asked Stiles to examine what other cities are doing on the issue and to bring a draft ordinance back.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling, who briefed the council on some of the events and activities at the Corn Palace this summer.

The National Science Foundation has a touring exhibit on the history of maize, the Native American word for corn. It will be at the Corn Palace June 1-Aug. 13.

"It basically costs us the cost of insurance to do it, which is $250," Schilling said.

The Corn Palace will also hold "corn races," which will be hollowed-out ears of corn with wheels attached that will be available for people to construct and race.

• Sat as the Board of Adjustment to:

Set March 5 dates for hearings on the application of Stephanie Everson for a conditional use permit to operate a day care at 509 E. Sixth Ave.; on the application of Stephanie Swanson for a conditional use permit to operate a dog grooming business at 1513 E. Ash; and on the application of Verizon Wireless for a conditional use permit to construct a tower at 1525 W. Havens Ave.

• Held, sitting as the Board of Adjustment, a hearing on the application of Larry and Kathy Gebel for a variance to construct a carport at 1118 S. Kimball St. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial last week after a neighbor objected.

The Gebels spoke jointly to the council. They said the carport is needed for protection from the elements and privacy and noted that other such projects in the neighborhood had been approved in the past.

They said Larry Gebel had spoken with the neighbor last summer and thought he understood their plan. In addition, he parks a large vehicle on the street which obstructs traffic far more than the carport would.

"We were caught off-guard," Kathy Gebel said.

Gebel said they met with city staff and tried to come up with a compromise that would be acceptable to all. The Gebels now have two garages with 11 vehicles and now seek a carport that is 20 feet long, as opposed to the earlier proposed 22-foot carport.

Carpenter said the neighbors should "sit down and figure it out" and not settle it before the council. Olson said the Gebels need to take the new proposal back to the Planning Commission and the council voted to refer it back to that board.

• Held a hearing on the application of Bob Plastow for a conditional use permit to operate a home-occupation computer business at 808 E Third Ave. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial last week after a neighbor objected.

Plastow, who works as a network analyst, said he does most of his work at businesses, but wants to be able to hire an employee and add an intern for work at his home. The intern position may become a full-time job, he said.

Plastow said he would have few deliveries at his home business and felt parking would not be a concern, since he has a garage and a concrete pad at his home to handle the employees' vehicles.

Neighbors John and Brenda Weisser, who objected at the Planning Commission meeting, repeated their objections during the council meeting. They said Plastow built his garage for the home business before getting permission to open one.

The Weissers said there are often kids in the neighborhood and they do not want commercial traffic in the area. Three other neighbors are gone for the winter, they said, and unable to speak out.

Councilman Allen finally moved to table it for two weeks and see if the neighbors could reach agreement. The Weissers walked out before the council voted to do that.

• Awarded a bid on the North Highway 37 water main, City Project 2012-20. There are 16 bids and the council awarded the project to the low bidder, H&W Contracting LLC, of Sioux Falls, which had the low bid of $205,260.60. Public Works Deputy Director Terry Johnson said 16 bids was a record for such a project.

• Tabled for two weeks awarding a bid on City Project 2012-10 for rock chips. There are two options, both from Spencer Quarries, of Spencer, with a high bid of $32,500.

• Set a March 12 date to receive and consider bids for Sanborn, Langdon, West Ash and miscellaneous sidewalk, City Project 2012-4A; Foster, Gamble, Eighth and miscellaneous sidewalk, City Project 2012-4B; and hazardous sidewalk and miscellaneous sidewalk, City Project 2012-4C, at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

• Set a March 12 date to receive and consider bids for a used bucket truck for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and the Corn Palace at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

• Set a March 19 date for a hearing on the assessment roll for 2011 sidewalk, curb and gutter, concrete alley and nuisance abatements.

• Held a required public hearing on the application to the state of South Dakota for a Community Development Block Grant to assist the Mitchell School District in its plans to acquire equipment for the welding/manufacturing program.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has pushed for training more welders, since there is a need for them across the state and region. Superintendent Joe Graves said the school district is seeking to help fill that need by creating a high school "feeder program" to a welder-training program at Mitchell Technical Institute.

The city is seeking $107,500 in grant money to help pay for the estimated $211,000 project.

The council adopted Resolution 2971, designating a CDBG project certifying officer and environmental certifying officer and adopted Resolution 2972, an authorizing resolution for the CDBG process.

• Held a hearing on and approved the application to transfer a package (off-sale) liquor license (PL-4695) and (on-off sale) wine license (RW-6530), from Wiebelhaus Companies Inc., doing business as Dakota Sunset, 1524 W. Havens St., Mitchell to T.E.A.M. Haus, Inc., dba Dakota Sunset.

• Held a hearing on a proposed resolution of necessity for 2012 sidewalk construction and then adopted Resolution 2968, declaring the necessity for sidewalk construction, although leaving out a planned portion of Foster Street north of 11th Avenue.

Johnson of the Public Works Department said the city is mostly "filling in the gaps" after years of sidewalk construction.

Most of the hearing went quietly, but Marvin Schuldt, who lives at 937 E. Eighth Ave., objected at length and, at times, at an increased volume.

Schuldt said he wants to preserve 35-foot pine trees by his home.

The council then voted to try to save as many of the trees as possible at Schuldt's home and mandated that he trim one of the big trees to allow it to be saved.

• Adopted Resolution 2970, the annexation of Lot 4A and that portion of abandoned Lot B abutting Lot 4A in the southeast quarter of Section 27, Township 103 North, Range 60, and Lot 7 of Highland Business Park.

• Adopted Resolution 2373, calling for bridge reinspection.

The federal government requires bridges to be inspected every two years and pays 80 percent of the costs. The city hired Brosz Consulting Engineers to do the work.

• Held the first reading of Ordinance 2393, supplemental appropriations of $20,000 for water distribution on National Guard Road and $12,000 for machinery, equipment and a mower at the Lakeview Golf Course.

• Held the second reading of and adopted Ordinance 2392, a supplemental reappropriation of $40,000 for a conversion crack sealer.

• Approved a contract for engineering services for the Norway Avenue waste water pumping station with SPN & Associates.

Johnson said the pumping station was built in 1977 and is in "dire need" of replacement.

• Approved a contract between the Mitchell Fire Division and Ward Diesel Filter Systems.

• Approved Bike Path Phase II. All rights of way have been acquired.

• Heard reports from the Traffic and Finance committees, which met before the council did.

The Traffic Commission approved a request from Mitchell Main Street & Beyond to close Eighth Street from Main Street to Rowley Street on May 19 for a communitywide consignment auction in the Slumberland parking lot.

The Finance Committee approved supplemental reappropriations from 2011 to 2012.

Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson explained that the $1.5 million in appropriations are not new dollars, but money set aside to pay for projects and equipment purchases not completed in 2011. Wilson said $400,000 of the money came from grants.

The committee also approved a request from the Lakeview Golf Course to appropriate $8,100 to buy a fairway mower. It's a used mower in good condition; a new one would cost $50,000, the council was told.

• Approved a raffle request from Rotary District 5610, with the drawing to be held April 13.

• City Planner Neil Puitnam announced he is running for reelection to the Mitchell school board. Putnam said city policy mandates city employees inform the council if they are running for public office.