Assessments, new ordinances approved by Marshall City Council

MARSHALL – Tuesday night’s meeting of the Marshall City Council had a good-sized audience, as several local property owners attended public hearings on special assessments. Council members approved assessments for two city street and sewer projects but also accepted verbal and written appeals on the assessments.

Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson summarized the two projects. One included replacement of sewer lines on West Main Street, as well as street reconstruction and some street resurfacing. Special assessments on the project totaled about $364,000 Olson said. The second project included the replacement of sewer and water lines and street reconstruction on portions of West Marshall Street, North 3rd Street and West Redwood Street. Special assessments for the project totaled about $203,000.

Olson said the city had received written appeals for some of the special assessments on both projects. In addition, two property owners along West Main Street addressed the council to ask questions and appeal their assessments.

It may have been a long time coming, but council members passed an amendment to city ordinances regulating “special vehicles” like golf carts, utility task vehicles and ATVs. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig presented the council with an ordinance proposal allowing permits for class 2 ATVs on city streets. Class 2 ATVs tend to be heavier and more car-like than the class 1, “four-wheeler” style ATVs.

The council had been discussing the possibility of allowing special vehicles on city streets for more than a year, prompted by a single application to drive a golf cart on the street.

Martig said the proposed ordinance would allow class 2 ATVs or UTVs on city streets, provided the owner obtains annual permit from the city, or is an authorized city staff member. The vehicles would have to be equipped with safety features like a rollover protection bar, seatbelts, head and tail lights, mirrors and turn signals.

The ordinance prohibited class 1 ATVs, mini-trucks, and motorized golf carts on city streets, unless under city-approved circumstances like parades.

Council members voted 5-1 to approve the new ordinance. Council member Mike Boedigheimer cast the dissenting vote.

Boedigheimer said he was “totally disappointed” with the council’s decision on special vehicles. Marshall’s original golf cart ordinance dated back to 1984 and was created for the purpose of giving senior citizens rides, Boedigheimer said. Now, he said, golf carts were about the only thing that couldn’t be driven on city streets.

Council members heard two variance requests, with some similarities to requests they’d considered in the past. The first was a request to reduce the number of customer parking spaces required at the new Kruse Motors dealership location being built near Minnesota Highway 19. City ordinances required 104 parking spaces for the building and sales lot. Olson said the city Planning Commission recommended allowing 50 spaces instead. However, the commission also recommended that a certain percentage of the property be landscaped or used for “green space.” The commission had some disagreement as to whether the percentage should be 20 percent of the property with 20 trees planted, or 10 percent of the property with 10 trees planted. Ultimately, it recommended the 10 percent option.

Council members said they had no problem with reducing the number of parking spaces on the property but disagreed as to how much landscaping the lot should be required to have. Council member Larry Doom said he thought 20 percent was excessive.

The council voted 4-2 in favor of granting fewer parking spaces, with the condition that 20 percent of the lot is landscaped, and 20 trees are planted. Council members Doom and Boedigheimer cast the votes against.

The second request came from Jeff and Rhonda Buysse, to allow four roomers to live in a house they own on Pine Avenue. This arrangement would be similar to one the council already granted a conditional use permit for earlier this year. Olson said the permit would include requirements that all roomers park off the street, and the permit would expire if the Buysses sell the property. He said the proposal has received one written protest from a neighbor.

Council members were again divided on whether allowing the roomers would be appropriate in a single-family residential zone. Council member Glenn Bayerkohler recalled his concerns about setting a precedent when the city approved the earlier request to allow roomers.

The council voted 4-2 to approve the permit, with Bayerkohler and Boedigheimer casting the votes against.