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City council unanimously denies streetside parking ban

Owners of campers, boats and trailers in Mitchell can rest easy. The Mitchell City Council unanimously denied an ordinance proposed by Mayor Jerry Toomey's parking committee that would have barred several prohibited implements from parking street...

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Owners of campers, boats and trailers in Mitchell can rest easy.

The Mitchell City Council unanimously denied an ordinance proposed by Mayor Jerry Toomey's parking committee that would have barred several prohibited implements from parking streetside in Mitchell.

The unanimous 6-0 vote was made Monday night in Council Chambers in City Hall in Mitchell. Councilmen Mel Olson and Jeff Smith did not attend the meeting.

Ward 3 Councilmen Marty Barington and Dan Allen sparked the denial, with Barington making the initial motion to deny and Allen seconding the motion. Barington said his phone "rang off the hook" with callers who thought Toomey's plan was a poor idea.

"My constituents have spoken out very loudly that they do not approve of the ordinance," Barington said.

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The ordinance would have banned campers, motor homes, flatbed and enclosed trailers, boats, pontoons, jet skis and other watercraft from parking on Mitchell streets. While the plan would have allowed the public to acquire 20 temporary parking permits to park the prohibited implements streetside for 24 hours, City Council members heard overwhelming opposition to the proposal initially pitched by the mayor.

Like Barington and Allen, Councilwoman Susan Tjarks also heard opposition to the plan.

"Let me just start with the fact that 100 percent of the texts, emails and calls I have received have been against this ordinance," Tjarks said.

Councilwoman Bev Robinson - who sat on the mayor's committee that included Mitchell residents who supported, were neutral and opposed the ordinance - voted to deny the proposal with the caveat that it be reworked in a way that would work for all Mitchell residents.

The plan was touted as a safety measure, with the ordinance stating it would "protect the public health, safety and welfare by ensuring that roadways remain clear of undue physical dna visual obstructions..."

But members of the council, including Councilman Steve Rice and Tjarks, questioned how the plan would improve public safety if temporary permits would be offered to allow prohibited vehicles from parking along the street.

"My question in that is, if we give them a permit, how does that make it safer?" Rice asked.

The proposal would also have allowed business owners to apply for commercial permits, which would have allowed the parking of prohibited implements streetside if they were located at job sites.

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After some discussion on the subject, tempers flared when Allen spoke in support of his constituents.

"This is such a small problem," Allen said. "It's this small and the mayor is making it this big."

In response to Allen, Toomey said he's heard complaints about campers and trailers parking streetside since campaigning for mayor last year. He asked if the city was going to wait for a car crash to happen before getting potentially obstructive implements off the roadway.

"Do we really have to wait for an accident to happen to look at something different?" Toomey asked about the proposed rule change.

Toomey also said he's heard comments from visitors about Mitchell's "trashy" streets filled with unsightly campers and trailers. Without the parking committee's proposal, vehicles will still be prohibited from parking alongside the street for more than 48 consecutive hours.

In response to Toomey, Allen said the mayor was searching for a problem.

"Be a mayor, Jerry," Allen said. "Don't go out and look for complaints."

Allen said he received a text and photograph from Toomey-which Allen believes was meant for Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg-asking Overweg to tag vehicles parked on the street for more than 48 consecutive hours. Although parking in the same spot for 48 consecutive hours is currently illegal, Allen said Toomey was going out and searching for vehicles to tag for illegal parking.

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"I've never seen a mayor do something like that," Allen said. "To me, it's very unprofessional."

Toomey said he took offense to Allen's comments, reiterating his stance that getting trailers and campers off the streets is a campaign promise he made to his supporters in 2015.

Despite all of the criticism of the plan, Councilman Dave Tronnes gave credit to the mayor's parking committee for its effort in crafting a proposal to be considered by the council.

"The people worked really hard to try to work with what was in front of them," Tronnes said.

While the streetside parking ban was unanimously denied, another parking plan received unanimous support.

Tronnes proposed the addition of nine parking spaces designated to military service veterans in city-owned parking lots.

Under Tronnes' proposal, nine $65 signs will be installed throughout the city. Two signs will be added at the City Hall lot and the currently unbuilt veterans park lot, respectively, while one sign will be added at the Mitchell Public Library, Mitchell Activities Center, Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex, Cadwell Park and the Mitchell Recreation Center.

Palace lights could get bright

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein updated the city on a proposal to improve the lighting on the Corn Palace less than one year after a $4.7 million renovation was completed.

Ellwein said Baltimore-based Image Engineering came to Mitchell last week to discuss possible lighting upgrades. At a May council meeting, Ellwein shared the company's $116,000 to $121,000 plan to improve the strength of the lighting on the Corn Palace domes and the lighting of the murals surrounding the building's exterior.

But the costs to fix what has been perceived as dim dome and mural lighting could be significantly more affordable.

When Image Engineering visited with Ellwein, she said a consultant presented her with different options available to the city to improve the lights, including the addition of spotlights aimed at the murals. Ellwein shared a photograph with the small crowd in attendance Monday night showing how much brighter the murals would appear at night with the addition of a spotlight.

With the help of a spotlight, the whites, yellows and browns of the mural became significantly more vivid.

"This is our recommended next step because this will make a drastic improvement for the lighting of the murals," Ellwein said.

Ellwein said the city has already requested a formal cost estimate, but an initial estimate to add spotlights was approximately $36,000. Other options are also available that could allow for better dome lighting and lighting of the building's turrets.

Consent agenda

The council approved the following consent agenda items:

• The City Council agenda and minutes from the previous City Council, May 9 Planning Commission, May 16 Traffic Commission and May 16 Public Health & Safety meetings.

• A raffle request from the Davison County Democrats with the drawing to be held Oct. 18.

• Set June 20 as the date to consider an application from the Palace City Lions Club for a special event malt beverage license located at the Horseman's Sports Area from July 14 to 17 for the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo.

• Set June 20 as the date to consider the application of the Mitchell Elks Lodge No. 1059 for a special event liquor license located at the Masonic Lodge for a July 2 wedding dance.

• Set June 20 as the date for a notice of hearing on the proposed resolution of necessity to rebuild the alley between of Rowley Street and Duff Street for parking lot and alley paving and at South Miller Street for necessary construction. The hearing will be held at Council Chambers in City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

• Set Sept. 20 as the date for a city of Mitchell surplus auction.

• An application of Potter's Plus Studio, LLC & Ideal Fashion & Furnishings to sponsor a special event located on Main Street on Oct. 1 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The event would result in the closure of North Main Street from First Avenue to Fourth Avenue and a half block east and west of Main Street on Second, Third and Fourth avenues. First Avenue would remain open and no alcohol would be permitted on a public street or sidewalk for the "What is Art" event.

• The appointment of Jim Taylor to the Mitchell Housing Authority Board.

• Gas and diesel competitive quotations and pay estimates.

• Bills, payroll and salary adjustments, new employee hires and authorized the payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Met as the Public Health & Safety Committee and approved a fireworks permit from Watertown-based Lew's Fireworks for July 4. Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg recommended a stipulation that the permit would be canceled if a burn ban goes into effect, which was approved by the board.

• Met as the Public Properties Committee approve modifications to a street light at North Harmon Drive and $3,360 of lighting upgrades at the Mitchell skate park. Before approving the approval of the light, Councilwoman Bev Robinson asked if the skate park could be expanded. After discussions with city officials, it was determined the skate park could be expanded through if matching costs are brought forth by the skateboarders.

• Called the meeting to order, conducted the Pledge of Allegiance, conducted roll call, heard citizen input and approved committee reports.

• During citizen input, City Administrator Ellwein reminded the City Council and public about the upcoming forum for the Sixth Avenue plaza, which will be held on June 14. Ellwein also said the pool committee, which meets privately, is continuing to meet. She also reminded the city and council about Wednesday's dedication of the Corn Palace's Oscar Howe gallery and Thursday's grand re-opening of the Corn Palace.

• Also during citizen input, the council heard from Mitchell resident Ed Potzler, who recommended the city update the City Council meeting time on its website to account for the recent shift in meeting times. Potzler said as of 4 p.m. Monday, the website still listed the City Council meetings as starting at 7:30 p.m., but the meetings now start at 6:30 p.m.

• During citizen input, the council heard from both Councilman Rice and Councilwoman Tjarks. Rice reminded citizens to vote in Tuesday's primary election and offered "kudos" to the array of weekend sporting events recently held in Mitchell. Tjarks thanked the cemetery department for its work in preparation for Memorial Day and Mitchell Main Street & Beyond for its Downtown Thursdays event series. Tjarks also mentioned the possibility of establishing a ban on smoking at public parks.

• Met as the Board of Adjustment and set June 20 as the date for a hearing on the application of Bobbie Kurtenbach for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential day care center located at 1505 E. Ash Ave., legally described as Lot 5, Block 5, Sunnybrook Estates Addition, Mitchell.

• The Board of Adjustment set June 20 as the date to consider the application of Gloria and Terry Hanson for a side yard variance of 10 inches versus three feet as required for construction of an addition located at 1326 W. Fourth Ave., legally described as Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Outlot 1 of C.R. Johnson's Addition, Mitchell.

• Held a hearing on the application of Ashley Forst for a side-yard-on-corner variance of 10 feet versus 20 feet as required for construction of a deck or porch located at 1118 S.Miller St., legally described as Lot 6, Block 20, University Addition in Mitchell.

• Approved a paramedic student affiliation agreement.

• Set June 20 as the date to consider a waste tire collection and disposal grant. The grant will be considered at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

• Approved Resolution No. 3352, supporting an application for a tire recycling grant between the city of Mitchell and the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

• Held the first reading on Ordinance No. 2545 authorizing the assignment of the Sancom Franchise Agreement to ATV Holdings, LLC and amending Mitchell City Code Chapter 8-10B to reflect an assignment of the Sancom Franchise Agreement to ATV Holdings, LLC.

• Approved a letter of engagement with A. Stevenson Bogue to act as counsel in connection with the 2017 negotiations of the city of Mitchell with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

• Entered a closed-door executive session to prepare for contract negotiations or negotiating with employees and employee representatives. No action was taken by the council.

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