Royalton’s burning ordinance to change; public hearing set for March meeting

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
[email protected]

The Royalton Planning and Zoning Commission has been working to revise several city ordinances. While a new swimming pool ordinance and zoning ordinances changes are not quite ready, addition to the city’s burning ordinance are.

The city’s current ordinance is called a “Leaf-Burning Ordinance.” However, the revisions to the ordinance include open burning in general and the name will be changed to “An Ordinance Authorizing Open Burning,” to reflect that.

The Planning and Zoning Commission used language from Minnesota state statutes when defining a new section regarding recreational fires.

The new section outlines how recreational fires will be permitted on residential properties.

Recreational fires will be allowed as long as their are located at least 15 feet from any combustible structure and 10 feet away from any property line, unless approved by the Fire Chief. In addition, the fires must be contained in a fire pit or enclosure made from noncombustible material. These fires are restricted to a 3-foot width and must be no more than 3-feet high.

The ordinance also outlines materials that may not be burned in a recreational fire, and when a fire is not allowed, such as when winds exceed 15 miles per hour, or when authorized persons of the city issue a no-fire order.

These authorized persons may also order a fire to be extinguished if it poses a nuisance to surrounding residences.

There are exemptions to the ordinance, however an exemption does not excuse anyone from the consequence, damages or injuries resulting from the fire.

A public hearing will be held on the ordinance changes Tuesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Royalton City Council Briefs

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, the Royalton City Council:

• Approved the city’s annual contribution to the Royalton Fire Relief Association of $11,073;

• Tabled a decision on a request from West Central Environmental Consultant to install an off-site well on city property as part of a series of monitoring wells in place to define the extent of groundwater contamination to the south and east of EZ Stop, as required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Council Member AL Libke requested the city’s attorney review the agreement before the city entered into it;

• Agreed to continue research on a solar-powered sewer pond reconditioning system from SolarBee of Dickinson, N.D. Mayor Andrea Lauer said last month’s electric bill for the city’s current sewer pond was $3,500;

• Tabled discussion on a fund balance policy as specified in the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) statement, until after the Council’s Feb. 21 planning meeting, where it will be decided how much of a reserve fund balance the city should set — a percentage of the city’s annual budget or a an amount to equal a number of months of the city’s operating expenses;

• Approved hiring Barb Gangl of Royalton to clean city hall at $12 per hour, with estimated time being four – five hours per week. While the city did receive a quote from BK Commercial Cleaning for $164.65 per month, plus tax for the service, City Clerk Carol Madsen noted the city would have to purchase chemicals and cleaning supplies for BK Commercial, but that Gangl would be willing to use what the city currently uses, Norwex, which is a chemical-free product;

• Approved the transfer of $883.57 from Fund 403 to the Sewer Fund, to close out Fund 403, satisfying the city auditor’s request;

• Approved the annual agreement with the Morrison County Humane Society for impounding of stray, abandoned or lost animals until the animal is claimed or becomes available for adoption. Prices in the agreement remain the same as in 2011, with a $40 cost for a canine; $30 for a feline; $150 for a litter of puppies or a litter of kittens or $25 each, whichever is lower;

• Approved the 2012 appointments for the Planning and Zoning Commission, with Tim Majaski as chairman; Lori Kowalczyk as vice chairman and Lee Obermiller as secretary;

• Approved to pay expenses for up to two Council members to attend the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference in Duluth. Early registration for the conference is $295 for each person, a savings of $50. Lauer said the hotel stay may be about $200 per person;

• Learned the city had received a $6,400 state grant to install automatic door openers at the City Complex, allowing accessibility for handicapped persons, especially at election time; and

• Heard Council Member Al Doty encourage city officials to work toward making Royalton a “bike-friendly” city to take advantage of increased bicyclist activity due to the Mississippi River Trail, a bike trail being worked on in Little Falls. Doty also said the overpass to be built in Rice in 2013, will make Royalton the only easy access point off of Highway 10.

The Royalton City Council will hold a planning meeting Tuesday evening. Its next regularly scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at the City Complex.