The Spring Grove City Council discussed preliminary plans for a new 175 foot tall cell phone tower for Verizon Wireless within the city's limits on Aug. 20, but did not schedule a public hearing on the matter.

Councilman Robert Vogel, who also serves on the city's planning commission, reported that the tower would go in on the north side of town, at "the old fertilizer plant property (Farmer's Co-op), on the back side of the tracks."

Vogel said that too many problems currently exist with the plan to move forward.

"I was originally just going to recommend that you set a public hearing date... and then we'd just see if we could get the process back on the rails. However, there are serious deformities and laxes within the application. It doesn't describe what it's going to look like, other than it's 175 feet tall, and it's also being located in a district where we expressly forbid the erection of cell towers..."

"We don't have the right application and it's not complete, so my recommendation now is to not schedule the hearing at all. We're going to invite them to come to the planning commission, just to have an informational meeting... I wouldn't fault them for not being able to read our zoning map, it's such a poor map that I have a hard time reading it."

"I think we should just wait for them to catch up with the paperwork," Vogel concluded. Allowing the project to be built under either a conditional use permit or a variance is problematical, he noted, so an alternative site may be necessary.

A fence permit for a property owner on Maple Drive was discussed as well, but not approved. Members voted to have a "cease and desist" order sent to the resident, who had begun to work on the fence before learning that a permit is needed. Mayor Bruce Poole offered to talk with the landowner and get some additional information for the application so the council will be able to review it at a later date.

Council member Lorilyn Dehning reported that the swim season is now over, but working out a myriad of details on the cancelled USA Pools contract is gzoing to take a while. "We withheld $12,000 from their payments," she said. However, by the time money owed the city for various items is deducted from that total, the pool management company may not receive any additional city payments, Dehning stated.

City Clerk/Treasurer Erin Konkel went a step further, noting that by the time everything is added up, "they may owe us money."

A closed session to discuss possible litigation with USAS Pools was tabled, since city attorney Joe Hammell did not attend the meeting.

A report from Summer Rec coordinator Julianna Lile was reviewed. "The numbers aren't that bad," Vogel noted. Participants in nine activities totaled 169, including youngsters from 68 families. Dehning said that Lile told her that she would not be overseeing the program next year, and made a motion to have Lisa Bornholdt take over in 2014. It passed by unanimous vote.

Members also voted to set a regular wage for Police Department administrative assistant Stephanie Jaster, since she is no longer serving as an interim employee. Dehning suggested $12 per hour as starting pay for the position, which she said totals 25 hours per week and does not provide benefits. The motion was passed, pending union approval.

The council reviewed ongoing Main Street work.

"The contractors poured the first colored/stamped concrete today," Pool told members. He noted that as those and other sidewalk sections continue to go in, residents will want to avoid walking on them until officially open (no longer taped or roped off). Some areas are still covered with protective material that can stick to shoes and track into buildings.

With school set to begin soon, other areas of concern are where parents can drop off kids, and getting a temporary crosswalk for students. "They need a safe way to get to the south side of town on foot," Vogel noted. In addition, some truck traffic is still having trouble negotiating detours.

The Main/Division intersection will be the last area completed, Poole noted.

In other news, the council will meet on Aug. 29 to work on the 2014 budget. Council member Nancy Nelson and Dehning provided documents for the rest of the board to study before that session.

Members briefly discussed the possibility of purchasing new Christmas lights, since the set the city owns will not mount on the new Main Street light poles. "Right now we're just below having to add new taxes (to the 2014 budget)," Nelson cautioned, since there is currently no line in the budget for the expense. Vogel suggested using fund balance to pay for a new set of lights, and Nelson objected to the idea. Members agreed by consensus to ask Public Utilities Director Paul Morken to investigate the matter and report back on options and costs.

Sara Schroeder of Spring Grove government access cable television reported that future meetings will feature new microphones to improve broadcast sound quality.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3.