7/10/2014 3:51:00 PM New cell tower ordinance wording sent back to planning commission to be refined
by DENISE MARTIN
The agenda for the Wyoming City Council meeting included action for the new communications and cell phone tower code-- but last second concerns expressed by a Verizon legal representative convinced the council to hold-off.
Attorney Anthony Dorland spoke-up while council was going over ordinance language, and while it was not a public hearing the mayor allowed the comment. Dorland noted the ordinance lacked clarity when the very thing the city was seeking was more clarity. The council imposed a moratorium on cell tower permit applications until the city has a new ordinance in place, addressing concerns that surfaced in reviewing a prior Verizon tower permit.
The new wording ties tower setbacks and tower heights to residential districts and properties alongside residential lots, but there’s no mention of industrial or commercially-zoned tower locations and those permitting conditions. The city zoning administrator was not at the council meeting July 1 and city staff couldn’t add much to what the planning commission intended. In the audience resident Frank Storm, a planning commission member, agreed that waiting until legal advisors and the city zoning official could have input was best. So, the ordinance on cell towers will be looked at by council after the planning commission takes a swing at it again.
Senior meals support The Wyoming Council agreed to support an effort to get senior dining back into a south Chisago County location. When the Swedish Inn in Lindstrom recently sold; the new owners opted not to participate in the voucher-paid meals for senior citizens. The search is on for a new restaurant willing to participate in “Checkerboard Dining” which gets partial funding from aging agencies. When a privately-owned restaurant is the designated dining site-- diners can buy vouchers (or receive vouchers as gifts) and redeem them when they eat at a participating establishment. There can be a set congregate dining senior menu or specific items the restaurant offers that qualify. (See sidebar story.) Council voted 5-0 adopting a resolution being sent to the Central MN Council on Aging supporting the need for congregate dining in the southern third of Chisago County. Meals on Wheels is not affected by any of the on-going local changes and issues.
Jaws of Life expired Council was also informed of a “catastrophic failure” of the public safety department’s extrication cutter core equipment, luckily the failure took place during a training exercise. Public Safety Director and Police Chief Paul Hoppe said in his council report replacing this item will run about $18,000. He said “normal” lifespan is 15 years and Wyoming’s unit is 25 years old. Chief Hoppe did have this in his tentative 2015 budget and now will have to shift things and see if there’s more accessible funding available. He will try to have a replacement proposal for council to review soon.
Hearing on referendum The July 15 council meeting (next week) includes a public hearing providing information about the possibility of city holding a street projects referendum this November. The city of Wyoming referendum a few months ago failed. Council had developed a tentative plan to sell bonding to jump-start municipal roadwork projects. The council has set up a half-million dollar annual property tax levy to cash flow the debt. Citizens voted down the bonding, and road projects were put on hold this season due to elected officials’ reluctance to assess for projects. This new plan basically calls for a vote on HOW improvements will be funded. Repairs and replacement of deteriorating city streets are being scheduled to move forward based on the city’s pavement management plan. Voters will be asked if they support bonding and taxation citywide to fund a debt service account to pay off the bonds, or if they prefer to be directly assessed on a project that can be shown to benefit their property. The hearing next week is a required first step if there’s to be an assessment Council will share many more details at the Tuesday, July 15 public hearing at city hall. The date for the vote has not been established yet but will probably coincide with the general election.