Mitchell City Council: Time to move offices out of City HallPanel to be named for study; relocation could ease Corn Palace expansion. Current City Hall building declared "done" while council discusses the "prime real estate" it currently occupies.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell City Council is considering moving to a new city hall.
During its Monday night meeting in the existing City Hall attached to the Corn Palace, the council asked Mayor Lou Sebert to name a six-member committee to examine if the city should relocate its primary offices.
Councilman Greg McCurry asked to have the issue discussed and said he favored forming a task force to examine the needs and “figure out what we need for the future.”
Councilman Mel Olson said it is time for such a discussion. The current building has served its purpose, he said.
“I think it’s clear, for whatever purpose, this is done,” Olson said. “This is done. It’s just a question of where we go.”
He said all options point to the need for a different city hall, whether the city buys land and builds one or moves into an existing building. Olson said he also feels it will be cheaper to use the current City Hall for a Corn Palace expansion than any other plan.
“I think it makes perfect sense to look,” he said.
Olson said despite criticism for not planning ahead, the city has set aside funds for a new Corn Palace and other projects, including possibly moving to a new city hall.
Council President Jeff Smith said he agrees with the other councilmen. It’s time to discuss relocation, he said, and use the existing building for a Corn Palace expansion.
“This is pretty prime real estate we have sitting here,” Smith said.
Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, a Minnesota architectural and consulting firm, has been contracted to study the Corn Palace.
The firm will return in January to hold a public meeting to disclose proposed designs, costs and options, according to Councilman Marty Barington, who serves as the council liaison to a Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce committee that is studying a Corn Palace expansion.
In other business, the council:
• Discussed but took no action on a proposal to allow sidewalk cafes to serve alcohol.
Cornerstone Coffeehouse and Deli, 123 E. Third Ave., asked to allow sidewalk consumption of alcoholic beverages.
“It’s been around awhile in other places, and it seems kind of inviting,” Barington said. “I think it’d be nice to have it down there.”
Stiles said there are several questions that need to be addressed, so he asked to study the issue and report back to the council.
Mitchell Main Street & Beyond Executive Director Molly Goldsmith said while she feels it is “a very good idea,” she also wants to know that such cafes wouldn’t block sidewalks.
“The idea is to create a more pedestrian-friendly downtown,” Goldsmith said.
• Heard the second reading and approved Ordinance 2383, amending the City of Mitchell Zoning Code to define light manufacturing use in the downtown area as long as a business has a retail element as well and the retail section faces a street.
The ordinance is linked to plans by Brandon and Rachel Dykstra to operate a custom furniture and retail store at 102 and 104 N. Main St.
The Dykstras received a conditional use permit for their business.
• Set a Dec. 19 date for a hearing on the application to transfer a retail (on-sale) liquor license to include Sunday sales and package (off-sale) liquor license to include Sunday sales from Jason Bates, doing business as the Longhorn Bar, 101 N. Main St., to Jason Bates, dba Longhorn Bar, at 108 N. Main St.
• Approved Resolution 2959, an exchange agreement between the city of Mitchell and Frances Smith.
About 20 years ago, the city shifted a fence line and placed water and sewage lines on property on the north end of Lake Mitchell while also altering the path of North Harmon Drive.
Edgar Smith, who has since passed away, worked with the city to assist in its efforts, according to Councilman Jeff Smith.
However, an agreement made at that time was not put into writing. When Frances Smith tried to sell some of the land recently, she found out she didn’t have title to it. Legally, she doesn’t have the right to access her own land, according to lawyer Becky Millan, who spoke on her behalf.
Public Works Director Tim McGannon said he felt the city had an obligation to legally complete its deal.
“Regardless of what happened 20 years ago, I do think it’s right the city sign the exchange agreement and the easement agreement,” McGannon said.
He said the city has no need for the property and this action puts it back on the tax rolls.
Lots 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A will belong to Frances Smith and lot 4B will be city property. Smith will also have an easement across the two city lots for ingress/egress purposes.
• Approved Resolution 2960, a water-use agreement with Poet Biorefining that lowers the rate Poet will pay for water.
The council also held the first reading of Ordinance 2385 to amend the water rates with Prairie Ethanol, dba Poet Biorefining, or Prairie Ethanol.
Under the new agreement, which goes into effect in January, Poet will pay $1.13 per 1,000 gallons and will buy a minimum of 4,000 gallons per month. It will also pay a $3,000 annual administrative fee and pay utility bills and continue to perform all maintenance.
The current rate is $1.35 per gallon. That money was used to pay off the bond for a pipeline project to draw water from Lake Mitchell.
Poet has been paying about $20,000 a month and, under the lower rate, would pay $16,000 a month if it continues to use the same amount of water.
McGannon said Poet may use around half as much water as it does now but nothing had been set. He agreed with the council it would be easier to plan if it was known how much Poet, which has explored alternative ways to obtain water, was going to buy from the city.
Councilman Ken Tracy said when the agreement was made about five years ago, the idea was that once the bond was paid off, the funds would be set aside for work to improve Lake Mitchell.
McCurry said setting money aside would empower the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee to complete some projects.
McGannon advised the council not to designate how the money would be used. He said the money has been budgeted for the Water Division and reallocating it would increase water rates.
“I don’t think you want to earmark this money right now,” he said.
The council agreed and decided not to direct how the money is spent. It will review the issue at its Dec. 19 meeting.
• Authorized Sebert to sign a memorandum of understanding with the city of Pierre.
The city of Mitchell sent employees and equipment to Pierre this summer to provide assistance after Pierre was impacted by severe flooding.
Mitchell spent about $6,000 and if Pierre is reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the money will be repaid to Mitchell.
“They went through h—- and back this summer,” Smith said. “I’m glad we were able to help.”
• Approved Ordinance 2386, supplemental appropriations to numerous city departments and divisions. The appropriations total more than $200,000 in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $30,000.
• Held the second reading of and adopted Ordinance 2384, supplemental appropriations of $31,500 for the Foster Street lift station to pay back the state for an overpayment; $30,000 in debt servicing for bond principal; $27,838 in bond interest for tax increment financing District 13; $16,5000 for a mower for the airport; $7,500 for legal services for the Fire Division in a dispute with a former employee; $5,000 for professional services for the Finance Department; a $1,000 payment for debt service for Second and Fourth streets bonds; and $100 for bond interest for TIF District 10.
• Set a Dec. 19 deadline to receive and consider bids for sealant-melter applicator as part of city project 2011-44. They will be accepted up until 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
• Set a Jan. 3 deadline to receive and consider bids for Class III concrete as part of city pipe project 2012-8. Bids will be accepted until 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
• Set a Jan. 3 deadline to receive and consider bids for water meters/transmitters as part of supply city project 2012-11. They will be accepted up to 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers
• Set a Jan. 3 deadline to receive and consider bids for water meters installation as part of city project 2012-12. They will be accepted up to 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
• Approved an amendment to a debt subordination agreement with CorTrust Bank N.A. to change debt balance from $800,000 to $794,750.98.
Sebert and Smith said it was determined the amount owed was less than had earlier been reported.
• Approved a supplement to the Special Revenue Fund, Parks and Recreation Department, Sports Complexes, in the amount of $3,500 for soccer complex improvements from a donation of funds.
The money came from the state soccer association.
• Approved all but one application for the renewal of liquor and wine licenses and a map of the locations.
Dakota Sunset, 1524 W. Havens Ave., has twice failed compliance tests in the past 12 months to ensure they weren’t selling to minors, Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg said. The store has also failed to provide an improvement plan and the same employee made the illegal sales both times.
The business has changed hands recently, Barington said.
Tracy said in the past, the council has asked businesses with this problem to come before the council and explain how they will prevent it in the future. If the owner does not come in and get it approved, it could be a year before the business could apply again.
• Approved applications for taxicab operators’ licenses from Palace Transit, E-Z Ride Taxi Cab and Becky’s Vans-Designated Drivers.
• Approved a request from the Mitchell Community Scholarship Fund to conduct a raffle with the drawing to be held on Feb. 27.
• Approved the request of the Imagine Guild Inc. to conduct a raffle with drawings to be held on various dates throughout the year.
• Approved a pay estimate of $14,667.80 for the miscellaneous concrete areas project 2011-14C contracted to Rexwinkle Concrete.
• Sat as the Board of Adjustment to:
Approve the application of Karl Knight for a variance to construct a shed/garage at 1800 Snead Ave. The request was made because the height and size limitation will not be met.
Approve the application of Dean and Betty Sadler for a conditional use permit to operate a massage therapy clinic and office at 2409 N. Main St. The Sadlers own the house where the business will be located.
Approve the application of Joe Kindle for a variance to construct a 24-by-24 foot garage at 1401 S. Main St., lot 167. The request was made because the front yard setback will not be met.
• Heard reports from two committee meetings that were held before the council meeting.
The Public Health and Safety Committee voted to erect two street lights on South Harmon Drive between 75 S. Harmon and 115 S. Harmon, and four at the intersection of Juniper Avenue and Langdon Street.
The city places lights every 300 feet as well as at intersections, on curves and at bends in the road.
The Sidewalk Committee reviewed and approved the 2012 sidewalk plan after a presentation from Deputy Public Works Deputy Director Terry Johnson.
The plan calls for completing work that was started this year by Pioneer Park and on East Birch and new projects at Mentzer Street from Seventh to Eighth avenues on the east side, along Gamble Street from Seventh to 11th avenues on both sides, along Foster from Seventh to Eighth avenues but only on the west side and along North Langdon Street from 12th Avenue to the middle of the block between 14th and 15th avenues.
The city will also look at doing work on West Williams Avenue between Miller and West University.