More input sought on calendar parking

by April Scheinoha

The Thief River Falls City Council continues to seek input on proposed changes to the calendar parking ordinance. At its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4, the council approved tabling the matter and having the Public Works Committee of the Whole discuss the proposal at its next meeting.

The Public Works Committee of the Whole meets Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

In a related matter, the council tabled a discussion regarding the 2018 Snow Removal Policy.
If approved, calendar parking would begin a month earlier – Oct. 15 – on streets and avenues in the city. Calendar parking would still end March 15. In addition, no parking would be allowed every day year-round from 2 to 6 a.m. on all roadways in the Central Business District. There would be no changes related to calendar parking in municipal parking lots.

The changes are being considered to aid in the removal of leaves, the removal of snow and the sweeping of streets.

Council member Don Sollom said he had heard from a couple of apartment owners who voiced concerns about the potential changes to downtown parking. He had suggested hearing input from those individuals at the next Public Works Committee of the Whole meeting.

Council member Jerald Brown also heard concerns about downtown parking. He heard from a few people concerned about intoxicated people who take a cab home and leave their vehicles parked overnight on downtown streets.

Council member Jason Aarestad heard from residents concerned about calendar parking in residential areas. He said they were concerned about the one-month extension, especially since some of them lack garages and/or driveways. Some also have children with vehicles.

Scotty Allison and Joe Vene, representing the proposed Bemidji Veterans Home, appeared before the council. The estimated $43.7 million Bemidji Veterans Home would provide skilled nursing care for veterans throughout the 16 counties of northern Minnesota. The group hopes to open the 72-bed veterans home in May 2021. Sanford Health has already donated land for the 72,000-square-foot building in Bemidji.

In September, the group needs to provide its best estimate of the local contributions to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. The local donations will be placed in escrow in March 2019. The following month, the group needs to submit its plan to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If the project were approved, the federal government would match 65 percent of the donations. Pennington County has pledged $10,000 per year for five years.

To donate to the project, send a check addressed to Beltrami County (Veterans Home) to the Beltrami County Veterans Service Office, Attention: Veterans Home donation, 616 America Ave. N.W., Suite 140, Bemidji, MN 56601.

City Council approved an ordinance to rezone a property owned by JPK Enterprises LLC. Owner John Kertz had requested to rezone the property from General Industrial District (I-2) to General Business District (C-2). The property is located along Pennington Avenue, east of Hugo’s. Kertz plans to tear down a cold storage building and build a strip mall at that location. An office building will remain on the property.

In a separate, related motion, the council approved a variance request for JPK Enterprises. The council eliminated a 20-foot rear yard setback requirement for the above property. Public Works Director Mark Borseth said the property is too narrow to meet the setback requirement and allow for adequate off-street parking.

The council approved an ordinance amending building regulations. The ordinance adopts Minnesota State Fire Code Appendix K. The appendix noted that open flame is prohibited on any patio or balcony of a multi-family property containing three or more units. It also noted that fuel storage is prohibited in those locations.

Exceptions will be granted in the form of electric or gas-fired barbecue grills permanently mounted and wired/plumbed to the building’s gas or electric supply. A minimum clearance of 18 inches would be required. A co-fire chief would have to approve those exceptions.

The next council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.