Chatfield's city council welcomed a new police officer to the local police force during its meeting last Monday, March 10.

Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox introduced Tim Melver, who replaces officer Aaron Miliander, who took a position with the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office.

Fox told the councilors that Melver has served Fillmore County as a deputy, dispatcher and Preston patrol officer and is glad to have "only one job" description after serving the county well in those three capacities.

Melver took his oath and officially became a new Chatfield Police Department officer, effective March 11.

Legislative visit

Mayor Russ Smith informed the council that he and city clerk Joel Young had gone to St. Paul to speak with legislators at the Capitol about the Chatfield Center for the Arts' (CCA) future, which has become an important issue the city would like to see included on the current bonding bill.

"We had nice visits with everyone, a great reception. It was nice to go up and at least remind them that we haven't forgotten about the project," Smith said. "With the reception we got, there's probably a pretty good chance it will be included, even better than other chances."

Issues conditional use permit

The council considered a recommendation from the zoning committee to allow a conditional use permit (CUP) for the former post office building, or what was Jackie's Health and Fitness, at 15 Third Street Southeast.

Owner Geoff Griffin requested he be allowed to convert the building into a four-plex apartment building.

A public hearing has been held, with neighbor Nancy Giehtbrock as the only neighbor in attendance, according to committee minutes, and her concern was that tenants not use her yard as a shortcut to reach the next street.

The property is zoned B-1 general commercial use in a designated downtown historic district, meaning it has fewer parking slots and smaller facilities.

Conditions included in the permit are that there is one parking stall per apartment and that it should be kept maintained and available. It was also stated that a sidewalk be installed from Third Street to the fourth unit and a landscaped buffer needs to be planted on the north side of the property. Other conditions included parking, landscaping and sidewalks be maintained seasonally and the city is allowed to conduct an annual inspection per the CUP.

The council voted in favor of the CUP for Griffin's property.

Audit report

Councilors approved the 2013 audit report as presented by Jason Boynton, from Smith, Schafer and Associates, who related that the audit found a "clean, unqualified opinion" and that the city is in compliance with Minnesota statutes.

He pointed out revenues were slightly higher than the levy - standing at $1,263,000 instead of the levied amount of $1,225,000 - but local government aid (LGA) has stayed the same for approximately the past four years.

After hearing the audit report, Young asked the council to vote to close some funds that are no longer in use, which the council agreed to do.

Winter concerns continue

Smith reminded Chatfield residents to keep their water running so service lines do not freeze. "Just because it's been 54 degrees today (March 10) and getting warm out now doesn't mean that we're done with frozen pipes yet," he said. "When we checked for frost under the pavement, there was still seven feet. If you're running water, keep checking the temperature because we're not out of the woods yet. It'll be another month yet. Hopefully, we're not still thawing pipes in July. This has been a weird winter, and we're going to have snow around for a while."

Other business

• Councilor Robert Pederson asked drivers to keep an eye open as they proceed down city streets, since residents have taken to walking in the streets as snow piled up on sidewalks and is melting into mud along front yards.

• The consent agenda included approving a permit for St. Mary's Catholic Church to hold a raffle.

• The council accepted the list of swimming pool lifeguards hired for this summer.

• Councilors set a public hearing for March 24 at 7 p.m. for those affected by the impending street improvements on Bench Street and other avenues slated for new pavement and plumbing.

• Councilman Paul Novotny gave the public works report, primarily addressing the need for downtown parking at 5 a.m. since several business owners open their establishments for breakfast at that hour. This is one hour before the downtown parking policy permits - signs posted along the street prohibit parking on Main Street between 2 and 6 a.m. to allow city maintenance crews to clear snow or conduct other cleaning. Novotny stated that the matter might be on the next council meeting agenda to request a formal change.