Council updates series of city ordinances

Published 5:29 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved a series of amended ordinances, as well as a brand new ordinance regulating signs.

The first ordinance clarifies when an RV parking area must be paved or not paved.  The ordinance states parking of an RV is permitted outside within the front yard setback on a hard-surfaced driveway or a hard-surfaced pad adjacent to the driveway as long as space is not available in the side yard behind the required front yard or there is not reasonable access to either the side or rear yard, inside parking is not possible and the recreational vehicle is parked perpendicular to the front roadway and is parked at least 15 feet from the back of the curb. The RV must also not prevent people from having a clear view of all traffic approaching at an intersection.

The second ordinance deals with fences in residential yards.

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Fences cannot be more than 6 feet tall in any side yard or rear yard and can be 4 feet in the front yard if over 90 percent is see-through such as welded wire or chain-link.

The third ordinance deals with personalized storage or mini warehousing design standards.

City Manager Ian Rigg said past enforcement and discussion on industrial type warehousing has been inconsistently administered.

The amendment clarifies the type of warehouse allowed and the standards that would apply. It also clarifies things like building materials and screening requirements.

The fourth ordinance deals with design standards for the Diversified Central District.

The amendment allows for some modern metal building materials to be used if aesthetically compliant with the intent of the ordinance.

The fifth ordinance deals with the Shoreland Management District for Pickerel Lake. Rigg said since the annexation of the land next to Pickerel Lake, the shoreland ordinance had not been up to date.

The amendment includes the lake in the ordinance and makes the stipulation for a permit requirement for work within the shore impact zones of 37 1/2 feet.

The last ordinance, related to signs, was created after Rigg said current staff believed the former ordinance to be inconsistent, cumbersome and incomplete as it relates to current signage practices and requests.

In other action, the council:

• Opened the public hearing regarding the reconstruction of alleys between Elizabeth Avenue and Newton Avenue from Clark Street to College Street. The new pavement is proposed to be concrete and will be dish-shaped to channel water to the center, where it will then be carried to the street.

City Engineer Steven Jahnke said alleys are typically 100% assessed, but in this case there are some city properties involved in the project. Total project cost is about $275,000.

City Manager Ian Rigg said because the 10-day mailed notice and two-week published notice were not completed in the time required, the public hearing will continue at the March 25 meeting.

• Approved purchasing a replacement rotating assembly and front head for one of the pumps on the city’s main pumping station for about $208,000.

Jahnke said the main pumping station is equipped with three pumps and is designed to run two at a time, with the third acting as a spare. In normal flows, one pump is needed, but in times of heavy rains, too pumps are needed.

He said the last time the city had to send a pump to get rebuilt, it took 16 to 18 months before it was reinstalled and back in service. During that time, another one of the pumps had a break, leaving the city with only one pump.

Mayor Rich Murray asked if only one place made the parts, and Jahnke said there was only one place and noted, however, it was 30% more than the estimate and 40% more than the cost of it three years ago.

A brand new pump is $400,000.

It had been budgeted for $170,000.

• Entered into new agreements with Albert Lea and Pickerel Lake townships for fire protection services. The city will receive about $18,400 for service provided in 2023 in Albert Lea Township and about $3,100 in Pickerel Lake Township.

• Approved plans and ordering of bids for the neighborhood improvement project happening this summer, including bituminous mill and overlay in the Fairlane Terrace area, bituminous surface and waterman replacement on the Spicer Road cul-de-sac and replacement of bituminous on the east end of Hammer Road.

The project also includes some curb and gutter replacement.

Estimated project cost is $1.38 million.

• Approved plans and ordering of bids for the state aid street overlay project on Greenwood Drive from Richway Drive to Hammer Road.

In addition to the mill and overlay, the project also incorporates installation of new sidewalk on the west side of Greenwood Drive from Richway Drive to Hammer Road and various curb and gutter replacement. As part of the sidewalk installation, the road will be narrowed by three feet.

Estimated project cost is about $905,000.

The city also approved designating no parking on the east side of Greenwood Drive once the project is complete.

• Approved plans and ordering of bids for the Marshall Street and Sibley Avenue reconstruction.

The project covers Marshall Street from Bridge Avenue to East Main Street and Sibley Avenue from Marshall Street to East Main Street.

The project includes removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain.

The project is a joint city-county project, and the city will act as the lead agency for design, bidding and construction oversight. Freeborn County will reimburse the city for construction and engineering costs.

Estimated project cost is about $1.16 million.

• Approved plans and ordering of bids for the reconstruction of Seventh Street from SE Broadway to James Avenue and Winter Avenue from Fountain Street to Abbott Street.

The project includes removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain.

As part of the project, Seventh Street will be reduced to 32 feet to accommodate new sidewalk on the north side of the road.

Estimated project cost is about $1.88 million.

• Approved submitting an application to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for $1.5 million in grant funding to be used to replace approximately 150 private and public lead water services.

• Authorized an agreement with the city of Austin regarding use of $150,000 of Albert Lea’s Federal Aviation Administration entitlement funds fro maximize federal funding for that city’s new hangar project at the Austin Municipal Airport. Austin will be required to pay the funds back with their fiscal year 2025 entitlement funds.

• Accepted a donation of a bench along the Blazing Star Landing by Pat Levisen.