Waukon City Council sets September 11 as special meeting for public input relating to nuisance abatement, approves changes to Facade Grant Program

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, August 21 to address a full agenda of matters including discussion of public transportation in Waukon, discussion of grass and weed compliance and approval of the Resolution adopting the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Arvid Hatlan with council members John Lydon and Kevin Johnson present.

Without a quorum, the minimum number of council members required to conduct official business, the meeting moved into Department Reports with Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub providing an update. Strub noted that fall sports and after-school are both getting started and youth volleyball and flag football in addition to adult kickball will be starting soon. He advised that the swimming pool is closed for the season and that there was recently a problem with the swimming pool heater. Strub noted that flames were visible from the pool heater with the Fire Department assisting in the matter. Strub anticipates this will be an $8,000 repair based on the repair and expense of a similar pool heater fire and damages last year.

Police Chief Paul Wagner made note of the E-911 Meeting held Wednesday, August 9 and the discussion that took place at that meeting relating to the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system upgrade. Wagner noted some concern from local law enforcement agencies relating to the CAD system upgrade and its implementation. He noted that radio infrastructure was also discussed at the E-911 Meeting. Wagner advised that the police radios purchased a few years would be compatible if an upgrade takes place but would need to be reprogrammed, further making this purchase a good long-term investment.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett noted that tree trimming is taking place. He noted that supplies are being ordered with truck maintenance taking place in anticipation of the fall and winter seasons.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper reported that a hydrant was replaced near 12th Avenue and 2nd Street NW. Cooper noted that a hydrant in the Northgate Addition needs to be capped and was likely located there in anticipation of future development and could be replaced if development were to proceed. Cooper advised that Tyler Thesing has passed the EPA certification necessary for testing at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Cooper noted that locates are keeping his department busy with the ongoing projects in Waukon.

Council member Dave Blocker joined the meeting via Zoom web-conferencing, with a quorum of council members then being reached. The Consent Agenda was then approved. Council members Steve Wiedner and Andy Sires joined the meeting in-person a short time later.

During Public Comment, Pat Stone noted his interest in beginning negotiations relating to the development of the former Bresnahan property. Stone requested that the City of Waukon consider a five-year tax abatement and putting in utilities and that the negotiations include Mayor Hatlan and not only City Manager Gary Boden.

Stone also requested information relating to the requirements and parameters for housing in the Pladsen Addition with Stone advising that he would also like to bid work on the Street Department Shop construction project. Stone requested an update about the property on Allamakee Street and whether the City is on track in getting the title to the property from Mindy Jones. He also requested budget information and a progress report relating to the Pladsen Addition.

Engineer Sam Ertl with Fehr Graham Engineering updated the council relating to the 4th Street NW project. Ertl noted that Skyline is working on water and sewer services. Among other items, Ertl updated the council about engineering fees. Ertl noted that Skyline is working to locate the water main on 1st Avenue NW and has been unable to locate the main on the east side of the existing box culvert. Ertl further noted that exploratory excavation will require a formal change order.

Ertl updated the council relating to floor drains and the storm sewer work being performed near McMillan Muffler. Wiedner, Ertl and Cooper discussed the mapping of water mains and gas lines. Ertl noted that letters have been sent out relating to the 6 p.m. August 28 West Street SW Improvements Project Public Meeting at City Hall.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker reported that she met with the information technology (IT) account manager last week with bi-weekly or monthly meetings to take place moving forward. Snitker recommended that either she or Wagner be contacted relating to the submission of IT support tickets. Snitker discussed an email upgrade that has yet to take place and noted a recent meeting with Executive Director Rachelle Howe with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) relating to an upper story housing grant program. Snitker further noted that UERPC has had conversations with business and property owners in town with this program something to consider for next year. Snitker added that the City may consider providing a match for this grant application.

City Manager Gary Boden made note of the open house meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, August 28 at City Hall relating to the West Street reconstruction project. Boden further noted that this will be an opportunity for those with concerns or questions to provide feedback. Boden discussed plans to attend a couple of conferences in September.

For the City Council Report, council member John Lydon discussed attending the August 9 E-911 Meeting at the Allamakee County Public Safety Center. Council member Kevin Johnson also discussed the meeting and then made a recommendation that the City Council have two representatives present at E-911 meetings moving forward.

Hatlan provided the Mayor’s Report noted that he plans to attend E-911 meetings moving forward and provided a recommendation that at least one council member be appointed to attend these meetings in addition to Wagner. Hatlan noted that decisions made at these meetings affect City budgets and provided an example of the police radio purchase a couple years ago. Hatlan noted the start of school with pedestrian safety being important with motorists needing to be careful.

The Public Hearing: Changing the Ordinance for the rezoning of 520 W. Main Street from R-3 Residential to B-2 Business was opened. Boden noted that the Planning Commission reviewed and unanimously recommended approval. Snitker said that no written or verbal comments have been received. Boden advised that this change relates to a portion of the former C-Mart property, specifically the northern vacant portion of the property. Boden noted that owner Daryl Hansmeier has requested this change from R-3 to B-2 to allow for the construction of a medical clinic which Boden advised is a low impact use of the property and fits with past zoning. The Public Hearing was closed. The Ordinance Changing the Zoning District Classification from R-3 Single Family and Two Family Residence District to B-2 Business for Certain Real Estate was approved by the council.

The council moved into discussion of the City Facade Grant Application for 991 9th Street NW. The council approved matching half of the proposed facade improvements in the application, a one-to-one match, with $6,992 being approved for this application.

The council next moved into discussion of changes to the City Facade Grant Program Guidelines and Application. Snitker noted that the previous application was drafted as a partnership with the Allamakee County Facade Grant Program. She provided an overview of eligible projects specific to the City Facade Grant Program in addition to a one-to-one match from the applicant. Hatlan and Snitker discussed that applicants may only receive funds once every three years based on completion date. The council approved the changes to the City Facade Grant Program Guidelines.

Transportation Director Lori Egan with Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) provided an overview of transportation services offered through NEICAC, a private non-profit serving individuals and families in the counties of Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek in northeast Iowa. Egan noted a misconception relating to rural transit services which are available to any individuals, not only the elderly and those with disabilities, with in-town services for the general public costing $2 per ride and available Monday through Friday.

The meeting moved into discussion of grass and weeds compliance. Wagner provided an overview of the procedure in place for notifying property owners not in compliance. He said that property owners are notified in-person and if not home, an orange warning tag may be left on the front door with all those not in compliance having 72 hours to remove weeds or mow lawns or the Park Department will take care of the matter with the property owner being billed for that service. Following discussion, the council set Monday, September 11 at 6 p.m. as a special meeting at City Hall for public input relating to all nuisance abatement.

The council approved the Partial Pay Request Number 3 for the 4th Street NW Improvements and 8th Avenue NW Sidewalk Improvements Project. Ertl then discussed the Pladsen Addition Stage 1 Street Lighting agenda item. He noted the agreement with Alliant Energy which will own and maintain the light poles to be placed near the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree location. The council approved the proposal from Alliant Energy.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker provided an overview of the next matter relating to the Resolution adopting the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan. Snitker noted that the County Hazard Mitigation Plan is available to the public on the Allamakee County website under “Emergency Management” with this plan currently under review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Snitker advised that this plan is updated every five years with the previous draft approved in 2018. Following discussion, the council approved the Resolution to adopt the County Hazard Mitigation Plan with Blocker abstaining.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(j) to discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property.

A closed session was also held as a strategy meeting regarding employee union contract negotiations exempt from Iowa open meetings law by Iowa Code Chapter 20.17(3).