Kristi Clarke from the Planning and Zoning Committee presented three zoning amendments to the Chatfield council at its regular city council meeting on May 28.

The city had received a request in December of 2012 to amend the B-1 downtown commercial district to allow residential living spaces above and below commercial areas. After a public hearing on Feb. 4, of this year, a parking and land use analysis was completed which showed 54 percent of the building space in downtown was used commercially, and 46 percent, residentially.

Clarke said they realized they shouldn't make the limited parking problem in downtown any worse. This led to a review of the city's Comprehensive Plan for the B-1 zone. The proposed amendment would move language allowing residential uses from the permitted use section to the conditional use section. This would give the city the opportunity to consider each residential use request as it comes along instead of being permitted outright. Anything pertinent to that conditional use, Clarke said, could be investigated by the city and on a yearly basis.

An additional condition to the B-3 zone was added, which defines zones of lighter commercial purpose. Clarke explained that there is a potential buyer who would be looking to construct a post-frame structure within a B-3 zone. This would require an amendment to the present conditional uses in Section 113-188. In a memo, she recommended the council approve an amendment, which was in other commercial and industrial ordinances. Clarke said she felt the addition was appropriate if the post-frame structures meet appearance, height and size requirements.

Another amendment was recommended to allow a residential homeowner in the downtown commercial B-1 zone to build a detached garage. Clarke said the industrial setbacks, size and location standards wouldn't work for this residential structure. Commercial setbacks, which are set at 20 feet, would not work for the homeowner. The amendment would recognize the non-conforming residential use of the commercial zone and set the standards the same as those in the residential zone accessory standards.

Mayor Russ Smith said that the process of amending the city zoning ordinances is continually evolving. All text amendments were authorized by the council.

Clerk Joel Young mentioned that a small portion of Root River Street will be vacated and that a new ordinance would need to be drafted to get the right of way dedicated for it.

Downtown trees

Discussion continued on the replacement of the trees downtown, which had been there since 1990. The trees had been pushing the sidewalk out and were removed, but not yet replaced.

City Superintendent Tony Lammers said there needed to be direction in the project.

Councilman Robert Pederson agreed that the discussion had gone on long enough.

Lammers said the city could do any number of things in replacing them, from installing grating to planting new trees.

Smith said whatever the city decides it should be uniform along downtown.

Councilman Paul Novotny brought up the concern business owners may have with new trees obstructing their shops.

Councilman Mike Urban asked if there was a limit with having the trees planted in the ground or in containers above ground.

Lammers said there would need to be a set back from parking spots if planters were used. He also reminded the council that the concrete would need to be redone no matter what.

Councilman Jacobson said he thought trees should be in the ground or have no trees at all. He also said any trees put in should be managed.

Urban agreed saying he didn't want to see the city go in later and tear up more concrete.

Upon that, Novotny made a motion to replace the trees and install grating. The motion was unanimously approved.

Ball diamond modifications

Young shared what had been discussed at the May 20 Joint Powers Committee in relation to the Mill Creek Park ball diamond modifications. An estimate of $10,000 was given for the moving of the fence and sand volleyball courts.

The Chatfield School District, which would have paid for the changes, decided to not go ahead with the project at that time. The district would find out the cost of getting the tennis court lights operable again.

Upon a request to have more drinking fountains within the city, a fountain will be installed by the booster station on Hillside Drive as well as one between the softball diamonds.

Reports

In his Public Services report, Pederson shared that additional information concerning increased busing to Rochester would be forthcoming in future council meetings.

Parts of the skate park fence which have seen vandalism in the past six months are going to be taken down, shared Jacobson in his Park and Rec report. He said the situation was bothersome because it was a public facility. The disc golf course construction has begun. Mayor Smith thanked those people who had donated to the funding for the project.

Other business

Tyler Burke from Plainview was hired as a city maintenance worker. The council recognized Burke as he was present at the meeting. He thanked the city and said he looked forward to starting.

Young shared news that the city had been awarded a grant to create an industrial park on a 55-acre piece of land on County Road 10. There is a business interested in moving there. The city would receive $500,000 to assist in getting water and sewer to the park. He said more would be heard about the progress of whether the project will continue forward.

Mayor Smith sent thanks along to the EMS volunteers as part of National EMS Recognition.

The city wastewater treatment plant was recognized for exemplary adherence to the PCA permit program in 2012. It was the fifth certificate the city had received since 2008. Smith congratulated the efforts being done at the plant.