The Mitchell City Council will consider approving a lease agreement with a local farmer who is seeking to farm a portion of the 371 acres of land on the near Lake Mitchell property the city purchased in January 2019.

The lease agreement would allow Mitchell farmer Gene Stehly to practice his no-till farming methods on 124.57 acres of land that’s included in the near Lake Mitchell property that the city of Mitchell purchased to create a wetland aimed at reducing the phosphorus and sediment traveling into the lake from Firesteel Creek. Due to Monday’s holiday, the council will take action on the agreement during the 6 p.m. Tuesday council meeting at City Hall.

Under the agreement, the cost for Stehly to farm the respective acres of land would come in at $125 per acre, equating to $15,571.25 per year. The lease agreement would be for a period of 10 years, extending from now until March 31, 2030.

According to Public Works Director Kyle Croce’s council documents, the lease limits the amount of crop farming on the acres Stehly would be farming. The previous acres of leased cropland that Stehly farmed for the former property owners Harvey and Peggy Kelley has been reduced from 177.15 acres to 124.57, a reduction of 52.58 acres.

Croce’s document stated the reduction was a result of the 52.58 acres of land being enrolled into Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is a federal program that encourages farmers and landowners to take environmentally sensitive lands out of production to help preserve natural habitat for plants and wildlife.

When the city of Mitchell purchased the 371 acres of low-lying land that sits along Firesteel Creek roughly 2.5 miles west of the lake, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said the city would create a wetland with cattails to filter out the phosphorus and sediment that travels to the lake from Firesteel Creek. Part of the main goal for the city’s $4.1 million land purchase is to begin significantly improving the water quality of Lake Mitchell by working upstream along Firesteel Creek. The wetland project is in the early stages and will continue to develop.

Stehly practices sustainable farming methods and the implementation of buffer strips along his own farmland that is located roughly 2 miles west of where the city’s near lake property is located, further improving the water quality of Firesteel Creek.

Consent agenda

The following items will be considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approve the minutes of the Feb. 3 council meeting and the Jan. 27 Planning Commission meeting.

  • Approve department reports.

  • Approve the following raffle permits: Gertie Belle Rogers School PTA with the drawing to be held on March 28; Heartland Quilt Guild with the drawing to be held on Oct. 18, 2020; Mitchell Technical Institute Power Sports Program with the drawing to be held on Dec. 3, 2020.

  • Set the date for the following bid openings: Feb. 28, 2020, for rock chips Project No. 2020-10; Feb. 28, 2020, for petroleum products Project No. 2020-13; March 11, 2020, for James Valley Community Center drive up window and parking lot improvement Project No. 2019-7.

  • Approve permit for Dakota Wesleyan University’s Blue and White Days homecoming parade that will be held Sept. 26, 2020.

  • Approve request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for office computers.

  • Approve request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for software.

  • Approve request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for surveillance security cameras.

  • Approve request to close Main Street on March 21 for the Junior Achievement Chicken Chase 5K and Fun Run.

  • Approve temporary road closure on March 15-28 for prescribed burn on West Harmon Drive from 407th Avenue to Canal Drive.

  • Approved Feb. 18, 2020 pay estimates.

  • Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.

Other business

  • Recite the Pledge of Allegiance, receive invocation from Northridge Baptist, roll call, hear citizens’ input.

  • Approve consent agenda.

  • Discussion on 414 S. Montana St. nuisance property. The City Council approved a resolution during the Jan. 21 meeting to clear the way for the city to demolish the house, but the property owner contacted City Attorney Justin Johnson on Feb, 10, claiming they were unaware it was going to be demolished. The city planned to demolish the residential home on Feb. 11, but the property owner stated he will not leave the home to halt the demolition.

  • Meet as Board of Adjustment.

  • Hold hearing and take action on the following application: Brenda Ziegler’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a lodging house at the property located at 520 E. Sixth Ave., legally described as lot 12 and East 45’ of lot 11, block 15, Burr’s addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned R2 Single Family Residential District.

  • Reconvened as City Council.

  • Approve Speedy Taxi, LLC’s application for a vehicle for hire company.

  • Approve to award a quote to trap and remove minnows from the wastewater treatment lagoons, Project No. 2020-18.

  • Approve Resolution No. R2020-09, a plat of lots 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, block 6, MLC addition, and a portion of West Pine Avenue, a subdivision of lots 4A and 4, block 4, Morningview Addition to the city of Mitchell.

  • Approve Friends of Firesteel’s request for a contract with Maximizing Excellence to begin the first phase of fundraising efforts. The request asks the city of Mitchell to match funds in the amount of $16,000, which would come from the contingency funds. The first phase is part of Friends of Firesteel’s quest to raise $3 million to restore water quality in Lake Mitchell.