By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Plans to restrict all overnight parking on Little Falls city streets continue. If and when implemented, parking on city streets would be prohibited from Nov. 1 through April 1, from 2 a.m. – 6 a.m.
This would alleviate snow plowing difficulties experienced last year, when snow plows had to plow around numerous vehicles parked on city streets, leaving mounds of snow and limiting the driveable area of streets.
Public Works Director Jerry Lochner told the Little Falls City Council Monday, that the city currently works with three towing firms and that use of the firms is rotated by storm event. The use of the firms is also rotated when vehicles get ticketed and towed for other reasons.
Lochner said staff would like to continue to use the three firms, including Shooter’s Towing, Tabatt 24-Hour Towing and Ray’s Body Shop, and call on a rotating basis.
Staff would also like to set a fee that would be used by each of the towing services to ensure one vehicle owner wouldn’t be charged more than another.
A uniform $50 fee for towing was discussed. The city may require the towing companies to use that fee for towing for violation of the restricted parking during the winter months. Other fees that would be charged include a snow parking ticket – $57, a state violation paid through district court; and a $20 outside storage fee for each day the vehicle is left at the impound lot, beginning 24 hours after the vehicle was towed. If a vehicle were to be stored inside, the storage fee is $25. These daily storage fees are paid to the towing company.
As far as rotating towing companies fairly, the Little Falls Police Department’s computer system is able to track which towing company was last used, making it simple to know which towing company is next in ther rotation.
Also needed, said Lochner, is limits on where impound lots can be located.
“Within a reasonable distance of city limits,” he said, adding that a radius of two miles from Bank Square might be used.
“None of the impound lots are within city limits now,” he said, although the impound lot furthest away is about 1 3/4 miles. The three impound lots are currently at 13148 Haven Road, 12897 Highway 27 and 13152 Haven Road, Little Falls, all private lots managed by the owner of the towing service.
To reclaim a vehicle once it’s been towed, residents would need to bring proof of vehicle ownership, including a title, bill of sale or lease agreement; a valid photo ID or driver’s license (a valid driver’s license would be needed to drive the car from the lot); proof of insurance for the vehicle being picked up; cash to pay the fees and keys to the vehicle.
Lochner and city staff will draft a policy for the Council to review at its Sept. 3 work session.
To accommodate residents who live in apartment buildings that may not have adequate off-street parking, parking areas may be designated in public parking areas.
Little Falls Council Briefs
In other business Monday, the Little Falls Council:
• Heard a complaint about the Little Falls Senior Center Board from resident Marcella Block, with added concerns from resident Robin Hensel. Council President Don Klinker said the Council had nothing to do with operations at the Senior Center;
• Approved Council Member Frank Gosiak’s motion that video cameras be set up only in the public gallery area during council meetings;
• Approved a drug and alcohol free work environment and drug testing policy for city employees;
• Directed city staff to research other communities’ policies regarding proclamations;
• Learned Adam Fjeld is proposing at various meetings that a sales tax be implemented in the city, by a vote of the people. Public Works Director Jerry Lochner said that before any decision is made, the issue must come before the City Council and that the idea is in a very preliminary stage;
• Postponed until its Sept. 3 agenda, a policy for a display case at the Carnegie Library;
• Approved the purchase of a 12-foot snow plow and hitch for $13,692.82 from Towmaster Inc. of Litchfield. The snow plow is manufactured in Little Falls at Little Falls Machine. The old snow plow will be used as a backup;
• Introduced an ordinance amending the city’s land use regulations by adding “bed and breakfast;”
• On a 7-1 vote approved the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation that the Central Minnesota Ethanol Cooperative be allowed to move forward with its water reclamation project. Council Member At Large Brian-Paul Crowder voted no;
• Approved the rezoning of property owned by Thomas Meschke at 1510 and 1606 Hilton Road as a one and two-family residential and the execution of an orderly annexation agreement with Little Falls Township for the property. The Council denied platting the property into five buildable lots until such time a conditional use permit is issued for an existing shed that does not meet city code;
• Approved adding to the city fee schedule of a $40 per officer per hour fee, for those instances where police protection is requested for a specific event;
• Put on file Robin Hensel’s request to establish a Human Rights Commission in Little Falls. The Council heard Richard Cousin with the St. Cloud Regional Human Rights Office explain that no businesses in Little Falls had been reported for human rights complaints. But residents who had such complaints would have to contact the St. Paul Office for assistance, because Little Falls is not included in the St. Cloud office service area. Cousin proposed Little Falls request to be included in the St. Cloud office service area;
• Learned the Planning Commission will hold a special meeting regarding changes made to the city’s sign ordinance set for Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m. The Council is expected to make a decision about the revisions at its 7:30 p.m. meeting; and
• Adjourned to a close session to develop an offer to sell Block 30 in Searle’s Subdivision.
The next regular Little Falls City Council meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.