With the help of landowners along Firesteel Creek, the Mitchell City Council is taking another step in improving Lake Mitchell's watershed after approving a resolution to submit an application for a land easement.
During Monday night's meeting at City Hall, the council unanimously approved the application to apply for an agricultural land easement for three parcels near Lake Mitchell, which includes 55 acres at a cost of $7,000 per acre.
"This would eliminate some cattle from the watershed, which will significantly help the water in Firesteel Creek and Lake Mitchell," Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said. "We're not buying the land for $7,000, we just have people along the watershed who are willing to work with us through NRCS and other agencies."
According to Public Works Director Kyle Croce, the property owners - Darren and Stephanie Reasy and Circle K Ranch-will apply to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service for the easement. Croce said the NRCS and USDA would be responsible for funding 50 to 75 percent of the costs in the land easement, while the city would be tasked to make up the other portion.
To fund the city's portion of the easement, Everson said the city would apply for grants and work with partnerships from the James River Watershed Development District, which he intends to cover all of the costs.
Council President Steve Rice raised a question centered around the city's grant applications for funding the project, asking what happens if the future funds are not available.
"What happens if we don't get the grants?" Rice asked. "Is the city required to budget that in the future then, and what is the timeframe knowing that?"
Everson said the city would be able to back out of the easement should a scenario like that take place.
Croce provided a timeline for the land easement, and he said the council's approval allows the city to apply for grants and begin further negotiations.
"This is really a starting point, and through the application process, the land will be surveyed and appraised through the USDA and NRCS for us to get a true value," Croce said. "There will be a couple months for the application review, and we would look to get into an agreement by the fall."
Everson said the land is valued at a price of up to $7,000 per acre, but he emphasized that price could change after the assessment, which will ultimately determine the value of the acres included in the land easement.
Eliminating cattle grazing along Firesteel Creek has been a long-term goal of the city, and Everson said this is another monumental step in improving the lake's water quality.
"The landowner who is working with us actually leases the land to a cattle grazer, and the lease is up in roughly one year," Everson said. "We would look to put a buffer strip in the area where cattle used to graze as well, so we would get some more vegetation to cleanse the water."
Bicycle ordinance update approved
Electric bicycles have been cleared to hit the streets and trails of Mitchell after the council unanimously approved a recommended update in the city's current bicycle ordinance.
Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell spoke to the council on behalf of the city's bicycle ordinance, which defines bicycles as vehicles. Powell brought forward the Parks and Recreation Board's recommended bicycle ordinance update, which requests the council to change the ordinance to define e-bikes as a vehicle or bicycle, not a motorized vehicle.
Along with defining e-bikes as a bicycle, the council approved to change the verbiage in the section of the ordinance that states residents "shall" register their bicycles with the Mitchell Department of Public Safety to "may."
"My assumption is that 90 percent of the Mitchell population doesn't even know they need to register their bikes," Rice said of the registration section of the bicycle ordinance.
The following items were approved as part of the consent agenda:
• Approved the minutes of the March 18 council meeting.
• Approved minutes from the March 18 traffic commission meeting.
• Set the date for the following raffle permits: Fur Get Me Not Animal Care and Mitchell Area Children's Choir with a drawing to be held on April 28, 2019; Xtreme Cheer and Dance with a drawing to be held on April 29, 2019; Big Friend Little Friend with a drawing to be held on August 21, 2019.
• Set the date for the following hearings: On the application of the Corn Palace Shrine Club for a special event liquor license to be located at the Masonic Temple for a wedding on June 7, 2019; On the application of the Corn Palace Shrine Club for a special event liquor license to be located at the Masonic Temple for a wedding on September 21, 2019.
• Set the date for the following bid opening: April 23, 2019 for the annual paving and overlay of street and parking lots.
• Approved new taxi license applications: Arin Winger, for Lyft; Doug Greenway, for D&J Fun Bus, LLC.
• Approved grant funds for the purchase of First Net Equipment, a portable radio traffic technology that will be used by Mitchell's Department of Public Safety.
• Approved gas and fuel quotations.
• Approved April 1 pay estimates.
• Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.
• Pledge of Allegiance, received invocation from Mitchell Wesleyan Church, roll call, heard citizens' input.
• Approved consent agenda.
• Approved the Application of Imagine Guild Inc. for a special event liquor/malt beverage license to be located on Main Street, which would force the closure of the following streets: South Main Street from Second Avenue to The Depot as well as Railroad Avenue from 1/2 block west of Main Street to east of Main to Lawler Street, including both the city of Mitchell's parking lots south of First and Railroad avenues. There is also a request for closing the alley on the west parking lot and allow to use the adjoining city gravel parking area between the alley and the public safety storage building. The application would also seek to obtain a special liquor license, consumption and noise permits for a poker run permit and associated cost for the Memorial Weekend in Mitchell and Barbecue Cook-Off event on May 25, 2019.
• Met as the Board of Adjustment and reconvened as the city council.
• Approved to table the application of Yvonne Steward, applicant, and Mid Dakota Properties, owner, application for a conditional use permit (family residential child care) at the property located at 517 N. Duff St., legally described as the south half of Lots 1 and 2 and the north half of the vacated alley, Rowley's second addition, northeast quarter of Section 21 in Mitchell Township, city of Mitchell. The lot is zoned R4 multi-family residential district.
• Approved Mitchell Municipal Airport terminal sublease with Dakota Flight Center. The sublease is to allow Agtegra space at the airport.
• Approved James Valley Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force joint powers agreement, which would include Aurora, Davison, Hanson and Sanborn counties.
• Approved resolution for declaration of emergencies and disasters.
• Approved operation policy for the city to be able to use a drone, also known as unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
• Approved Resolution No. R2019-24, a plat of lot 21 of airport addition, a subdivision of previously platted lot 2 of Fiala's addition in the East half of the Northwest Quarter of Section 4, T 103 N, R 60 West of the 5th P.M., in Davison County.
• Approved Resolution No. R2019-25, a plat of lot B-1, a subdivision of lot B, block 1, Sunnyside addition to the city of Mitchell.
• Approved Resolution No. R2019-26, a plat of lots 5 and 6 of Devon and Daren Long's first addition, a subdivision of irregular tract No. 3 in the Northeast Quarter of Section 23, T 103 N, R 60 West of the 5th P.M., in Davison County.
• Approved No. R2019-27, a resolution of intent to lease city property located at 514 N. Main Street to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation. Next, a public hearing is set to be held April 15.
• Held first reading on ordinance No. 02019-04, city's grass in parks ordinance regarding the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board recommendation to update the section of the ordinance that discusses the rules and regulations on grass in parks.
• Held first reading on ordinance No. 02019-05, regarding supplemental appropriations.
• Entered into an executive session, citing legal discussion.