Minot’s City Council will meet Tuesday, February 19 at 5:30 p.m. The full agenda along with the comments of one Alderman can be found below.
1. ROLL CALL
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
3. PERSONAL APPEARANCES
4. PUBLIC HEARING
On each of the public hearing/second reading items below, I expect to approve. That said, I’m concerned about the manner in which these are presented with no other supporting information. I assume this is a process irregularity but in the future, I would like to see public hearings considered at the time of a first reading so that supporting information for the item is easily accessible.
4.1. ORDINANCE NO. 5320- REZONE NORTHDALE 3RD ADDITION, LOT 3 & 4 FROM C2 TO RM
A public hearing to consider Ordinance No. 5320 on second reading, to rezone Northdale 3rd Addition, Lot 3 & 4 from C2 to RM.
4.2. ORDINANCE NO. 5346- CHANGE THE ZONE FROM C2 TO M1ON BRIDGEVIEW PARK ADDITION, LOT 1
A public hearing to consider Ordinance No. 5346 on second reading, to rezone Bridgeview Park Addition, Lot 1 from C2 to M1
4.3. ORDINANCE NO. 5349- CHANGE THE ZONE FROM C2 TO M1 ON LAFARGE ADDITION, BLOCK 2
A public hearing to consider Ordinance No. 5349 on second reading to change the zone on LaFarge Addition, Block 2 from C2 to M1.
5. MAYOR’S PROCLAMATION
6. CONSIDER THE REPORT OF THE MAGIC FUND SCREENING COMMITTEE
Jason Zimmerman will be available to answer questions on the MAGIC Fund Annual Compliance Report.
The MAGIC Fund draws no small amount of comments and criticism, so while routine, this is an important item for the sake of transparency. This required annual report is a good catch-up for recent activity and financial standing. As of end-of-year 2018, there is more than $10,000,000 in the fund. There were no applications for its use in 2018. The audits by Brady Martz on past fund recipients point to responsible oversight of the fund.
7. CONSENT ITEMS
7.1. ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVALS
It is recommended the City Council ratify the attached administratively approved requests.
I will support this on the consent agenda.
7.2. CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING ORDINANCES ON SECOND READING
Ordinance No. 5350 – Amend the 2019 Annual Budget- Vehicle Maintenance Training Expenditures
Ordinance No. 5351 – Amend the 2018 Annual Budget- Line Items Over Budget
I will support this on the consent agenda.
7.3. GAMING SITE AUTHORIZATION- NORTH DAKOTA ASSOCIATION FOR THE DISABLED, INC.
Site approval by the City Council is required as a precondition to obtain a state games of chance license. Each organization submits documentation annually in order to conduct games of chance at locations throughout the city of Minot.
It is recommended the City Council approve the gaming site authorization for North Dakota Association for the Disabled, Inc to conduct games of chance at Rock Tap House.
I do not expect to support this item; I will have a number of comments on my rationale at the time of our meeting, but my primary concern is that I believe we’re about to embark on a period of significant reform related to gaming and liquor licenses (the two are closely tied), and I’m concerned that awarding this gaming permit digs us deeper into a hole with regards to addressing our larger community challenges. In short, if we’re more intentional with our gaming permits and policy, I believe it can better help us achieve our community goals. Approval of this permit is — in my opinion — likely to cause backtracking in the future, and I’d rather avoid that today.
7.4. BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR CHIP SEALING CEMETERY ROADS
In 2018, $50,000 dollars was budgeted in the Rosehill Cemetery budget to chip seal all the internal roads. Unfortunately, the contractor for this project arrived in Minot late in the season and wasn’t interested in taking on any additional work. Since no work was done in 2018 those funds were returned to sales tax improvements cash reserves.
Recommend approval of the budget amendment ordinance allocating $50,000 of unused sales tax improvements reserves to the 2019 Cemetery budget.
I will support this on the consent agenda.
7.5. PLEDGED ASSETS, DECEMBER 31, 2018
Section 21-04-11 of the North Dakota Century code requires securities pledged for deposits
by banking institutions be approved by the City Council annually.
It is recommended the City Council approve the pledged assets as of December 31, 2018.
Occasionally, the legalese associated with government finances requires a layman’s terms explanation. This is one of those times.
7.6. BID FOR PICKUPS (PROJECT NUMBER 4403)
On January 31, 2019, the Public Works Department opened bids for pickups for multiple departments. One bid was received, and it is as follows:
Westlie Motor Company Make/Model Bid Price
½ ton 4×4 4-door (Storm Sewer) Ford F-150 Supercrew $31,724.12
¾ ton 4×4 Ex. Cab (Landfill) Ford F-250 Supercab $30,655.24
Recommend Council award the bid to Westlie Motor Company in the amount of $31,724.12 for the Storm Sewer Department pickup and $30,655.24 for the Landfill pickup.
I will approve this on the consent agenda.
7.7. INDUSTRIAL WHEEL LOADER (PROJECT NUMBER 4412)
On February 12, 2019, the Public Works Department opened bids for an industrial wheel loader for the Street Department. Three bids were received, and they are as follows:
Base Bid Lease Payment Buyout Total Cost
RDO JD 644K $208,000.00 $37,538.95 $37,538.95 $225,233.70
RDO JD 644K $208,000.00 $44,343.00 $1.00 $221,716.00
Butler CAT 950 $204,000.00 $26,471.53 $95,000.00 $227,357.65
Titan Case 921G $218,937.37 $47,192.00 $0.00 $235,960.00
- It is recommended the City Council award the industrial wheel loader bid to RDO Equipment in the amount of $44,343.00 per year for a 5-year lease.
- Recommend the additional $4,343.00 be taken from budget savings from project #4414 after the skid steers purchase came in below budget.
I will pull this for discussion and comments from our Finance Director. There is a modest total cost of savings differential between the bids, but a massive yearly cost of ownership difference. It’s my opinion, at this time, that the lowest contractual cost of ownership is the most responsive bid.
7.8. RETAIL BEER & WINE LICENSE – EL AZTECA, LLC DBA EL AZTECA
The City received a request from El Azteca, LLC dba El Azteca, for a Retail Beer & Wine License operating at 2035 North Broadway. The establishment currently has a Retail Beer License and would like include wine at their business. All documentation has been previously been approved by the appropriate departments.
It is recommended the City Council approve the request from El Azteca, LLC dba El Azteca, for a Retail Beer & Wine License operating at 2035 North Broadway, effective February 20, 2019.
I will pull this for discussion. I’m concerned that the City does not have this license property categorized. I think it is possible that we’re supposed to be issuing a Specialty Restaurant Beer and a Specialty Restaurant Wine license, not a Retail Beer & Wine license.
8. ACTION ITEMS
8.1. APPLE AIR SUBLEASE AGREEMENT
Apple Air, LLC. is in the process of selling its hangar. In the interim, a sublease agreement is desirable for all parties involved in order to ensure a smooth transition and continuous revenue generation.
It is recommended the City Council approve the sublease agreement; and authorize the Mayor to sign any applicable documentation.
- MEMO APPLE AIR SUBLEASE AGREEMENT.PDF
- CONSENT FOR SUBLEASE AGREEMENT – APPLE AIR.PDF
- SUBLEASE AGREEMENT (APPLE AIR – JF AVIATION) 2019-02-12 (002).PDF
- EXHIBIT A – MINOT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 2ND ADDITION LEGAL DESCRIPTION – APPLE AIR.PDF
I will support this agenda item.
8.2. AMENDMENT TO ORDINANCE 23-61 TO PROVIDE EXCEPTION TO PROHIBITION ON DISCHARGING FIREARMS WITHIN CITY LIMITS
The Minot International Airport is located within city limits. The Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, which has been reviewed and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, contemplates the Airport being able to use firearms to carry out wildlife control duties at the airport. Given the same, city staff recommends crafting an exception to Minot City Ordinance 23-61 to permit airport staff to carry out these duties. This exception is not unlike the existing exceptions to the ordinance that allow law enforcement and the park district’s geese control personnel to carry out their lawful duties within city limits.
It is recommended the City Council pass an ordinance amending Section 23-61 of Division 1, Article IV, Chapter 23 of the City of Minot Code of Ordinances to allow the Minot International Airport to use a firearm to reduce wildlife hazards at the Airport; and authorize the Mayor to sign the Ordinance.
Wildlife and airports do not mix. I will support this agenda item.
8.3. CITY COUNCIL APPROVE 22 MONTH MADC AGREEMENT
The International Economic Development Council in its report to the Mayor and City Council cited the importance of the role played by the Minot Area Development Council but recommended that the agreement between MADC and the city be more specific in terms of role, activities and measurable deliverables. The purpose of the recommendation is to provide clarity to MADC to understand and carry the role and activities envisioned by the city as well as to promote accountability and transparency in the agreement.
It is recommended the City Council approve a new agreement with MADC to expire December 31, 2020 subject to 2020 budget appropriation for the second year of the agreement.
In spite of much public criticism, MADC has an important role in the community, and I expect to support this item. But I’ll also attempt to up the accountability they’re held too. In the proposed agreement, there are two dates for deliverables — a June 2019 date for a list of proposed activities and a June 1, 2020 date for delivery of an updated Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. Neither of these is aggressive enough for me. I propose April 15 for the former, and September 15, 2019, for the latter.
8.4. ARTIFICIAL TURF
In the fall of 2018, Tim Vallely met with City staff to discuss the installation of artificial turf at the newly constructed Vallely Sports and Marine building located at 2125 Elk Drive, Minot. Chapter 24-3 of the Zoning Code, Subsection (f)(1) prohibits the use of artificial trees, shrubs, plants, or turf to fulfill the minimum requirements for landscaping. Based upon the information received, City staff cannot identify an exception in the Zoning Ordinances that would allow Mr. Vallely to use artificial turf in lieu of organic landscaping materials.
If the Council wants to allow installation of artificial turf, proceed with one or more of the following options:
- Direct City staff to draft an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow installation of artificial turf in the City of Minot; and/or
- Direct City staff to draft a limited exception to the Zoning Ordinance to allow artificial turf to be installed in the City of Minot, and outline any quality standards, restrictions, and/or processes the Council wants the exception to address; and/or
- Direct City staff to draft an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow the City to create an artificial turf pilot program to evaluate the pros and cons of artificial turf; and/or
- The Council could provide opinions on this topic, but continue and incorporate the discussion into the comprehensive zoning code amendments the City hopes to address in 2019; and/or
- The Council could elect to leave the ordinance as written, and prohibit installation of artificial turf in the City of Minot.
This is an interesting item because it illustrates the challenges that come with writing policy that covers all the situations the City encounters. Further, it’s my assumption that the property owner is hoping to install artificial turf because of its low maintenance cost — I wonder if we have other policies that are making that more difficult than it needs to be. As an example, I’m curious about our ordinance on the length of grass that might prevent plantings of ornamental or native species to address this cost-of-ownership issue. I also wonder if we have water-shed issues. Part of the rationale behind greenspace is it creates a permeable surface that in most cases absorbs water. I have concerns that artificial turf, or a policy to allow it may create unaccounted for run-off issues.
8.5. CONTRACT FOR PLANNING CONSULTING SERVICES
Since 2014, the Zoning Ordinance Steering Committee (ZOSC) has been meeting to make corrections, revisions, and updates to the zoning ordinance document. Recently, the committee has been reenergized with new members appointed by the Mayor and two-hour meetings are regularly scheduled twice per month. The goal now is to analyze and update the entire ordinance from beginning to end over the course of the next fifteen or so months. However, the Planning Department is still understaffed, so a planning consultant is being requested to provide professional assistance in the effort to complete this monumental task in a timely fashion.
Recommend approval of the contract for consulting services with SRF Consulting Group, Inc. for planning consulting services to assist in a comprehensive update to the Minot Zoning Ordinance as presented. Scope of work and estimated costs are included.
I’m on the Planning & Zoning Steering Committee and the work we’re taking up is critically important. Still, I’m not sure I can support this agenda item in this amount. I will have several comments and questions for our staff and Council.
8.6. OMBUDSMAN POSITION
On November 27, 2018, the City Council met as the Committee of the Whole and discussed adding an ombudsman position on the City Council. At that time, the City Council determined the ombudsman position was worth exploring and requested that the City Manager develop an approach for the ombudsman position by identifying a job description and determining the process for administration of the position. After the full analysis, City staff determined that an ombudsman position is not a position that is necessary at this time. However, City staff now recommends that the City expand the customer service training to include implementation of a complaint/response/tracking process.
It is recommended the City Council direct staff to:
- expand the customer service training program to include implementation of a customer complaint/response/tracking process; and
- conduct a complete review of the existing request/complaint tracker program and evaluate where improvements and efficiencies can be made (e.g., the number of tracker licenses necessary; current utilization of system; process for receipt, response, and tracking; and leadership involved in the process); and
- evaluate the efficacy of a 311 program.
I appreciate that — on further evaluation — an alternative pathway that may be more viable has been discovered. I take plenty of calls from citizens, but on the whole, I’m not closely involved in the day-to-day operations of the City. I trust our City Manager and the recommendations made to address the identified challenges.
9. RECYCLING ANALYSIS
The supporting document linked above tells an ugly story about the true cost of recycling. I’m curious what additional information is going to be provided by staff, but my quick estimates show recycling costing our citizens close to $500k annually. That’s a lot of money. One has to wonder if there are better uses for it when it comes to having a positive impact on the environment. That said, I have aa few questions about the information we’ve thus far been shown.
- I see a lot of numbers, but very little on the methodology that delivered them. It was my impression that we hired a consultant to help us ‘show our work’ — I hope that information is coming.
- I see nothing about material collection discretion. It seems the only proposal considered was an all-in single-stream system. Did we consider or evaluate the viability or benefits of only collecting the highest-value materials?
- The recycling industry is evolving quickly as a result of import restrictions China has placed on raw material? What investigations into emerging technologies have we undertaken?
10. DEPARTMENT REPORTS: LIBRARY DIRECTOR
11. LIAISON REPORTS
12. MISCELLANEOUS AND DISCUSSION ITEMS
I will be calling attention to a snow-removal policy question. It’s my opinion that snow removal has been excellent over the past month in spite of extremely challenging conditions. That said, I think we need to pay better attention to what I’m calling ‘arterial pedestrian’ infrastructure. The Broadway Bridge sidewalk is an example of what I’d consider arterial pedestrian. Our current snow removal plan has us moving to pedestrian infrastructure after residential neighborhoods are cleared; pedestrian is last on the priority list. It’s my opinion that for ‘arterial pedestrian’, it should at the same priority level as residential streets. Operationally, that would mean that we would address these critical pedestrian areas at the same time we address residential areas.
I will also be calling attention to growing concerns about the U.S. Postal Service. Calls from citizens as well as first-hand experience have me concerned about the performance slip we’re experiencing. While this may not seem like a City issue, we are a significant customer of the U.S.P.S. and we also have statutory requirements to provide legal notifications using the mail in some circumstances. If the post office doesn’t perform, it impacts the City’s ability to conduct legal business. I believe this issue has risen to the point of requiring a resolution requesting attention to this issue from our federal delegation.