Zoning proposals draw city council criticism

MARSHALL – Proposed amendments to the Marshall city zoning ordinances at Tuesday night’s city council meeting prompted questions on how much regulation of painting and landscaping on homes and businesses is too much. Council member Mike Bodigheimer said he definitely thought the proposal was too much.

“We had started out with a one-page ordinance, and now we’re up to eight pages,” Boedigheimer said during council discussion. “I would certainly not vote for it as it stands.”

Boedigheimer, along with the rest of the council, did vote to call for a public hearing on the ordinance amendments. However, he said the city should make sure to encourage people to read the proposed amendments and attend the Oct. 22 hearing.

Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson and city building official Ilya Gutman presented proposed amendments to ordinances on the appearance of buildings and properties. In particular, the proposed amendments included standards for landscaping, outdoor storage and outdoor storage structures and the external appearance of buildings.

The Marshall city comprehensive plan recommended the development of community design standards to help promote economic development, city staff said. Olson and Gutman said the ordinances being proposed for Marshall were drafted after comparing ordinances of several different Minnesota cities. In some cases, they said, the proposal is less strict than existing city ordinances.

Gutman said the zoning ordinances would apply to properties zoned as residential or business but not industrial.

Council members questioned several parts of the proposal, however. Council member John DeCramer said the proposed ordinances on landscaping on residential property could cause problems. For example, requiring trees to be “distributed evenly throughout the property,” with at least two trees in the front yard, could conflict with underground sewer and utility lines.

“I think it’s going to be hard to enforce,” DeCramer said.

Council members also had questions about a prohibition on painting brick buildings. Olson and Gutman said brick surfaces tend not to hold paint well and deteriorate quickly. But that just led to questions about how “brick” was defined, as opposed to concrete blocks.

“This is still a work in progress,” said council member Glenn Bayerkohler. At the public hearing, and even before then, the proposed ordinances could be changed. Bayerkohler said the council should give Gutman direction on how to proceed.

Gutman said he was willing to meet with individual council members to address concerns.

Council members voted to call for a public hearing on the proposed ordinances at the council’s Oct. 22 meeting.

Earlier at Tuesday’s meeting, council members also considered a motion to approve the issuance of public utility bonds for Marshall Municipal Utilities. MMU General Manager Brad Roos said the MMU Commission, working together with financial advisers Springsted Inc., recommended issuing $18.75 million in bonds. The bonds would be used to help pay for capital projects for water utilities in 2014. The biggest project funded by the bonds would be construction of a water pipeline from the Sandnes aquifer to Marshall, Roos said.

Roos said the recommended bonds could be split up into two parts. The amount of first bond issue would be determined after the city’s Oct. 22 meeting, when more city budget information is known, but it would not exceed $6.355 million. A second bond issue, in 2014, would make up the difference. However, the two bonds together could not exceed $18.75 million, he said.

The council approved issuing the bonds.

In other business, the council awarded a $44,525 bid to Rough Country Excavating of Russell for abutments and sidewalk work in replacing a pedestrian bridge on East Redwood Street. Olson said the bid from Rough Country was the only one received for the project. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $40,000, he said.