Loretto looks at storm water, wood stove measures

Fire and water were two topics of conversation at the Loretto City Council meeting Tuesday, July 2, but City Councilors did not discuss using one to extinguish the other. Both conversations eventually might result in new city regulations.

The subject of fire has proven to be a complicated topic. For a number of months, the City Council has been discussing ways to regulate outdoor wood burning stoves. City Hall and the Loretto Fire Department have received numerous complaints about one outdoor wood stove in particular.

City Attorney Paula Callies has gotten as far as drafting a proposed ordinance that would prohibit installing new outdoor wood stoves and increasing the size of existing wood stoves. The ordinance would require current wood stove owners to register their devices and apply for a permit within six months of passage of the ordinance.

She presented a draft of the ordinance to the City Council and noted that enforcing it would take some effort on the part of the city. Loretto could file criminal petty misdemeanor charges, which, in the event of a successful court case, would require the defendant to pay a hefty fine. Or, if Loretto were to file a civil law suit, each day a violation continues would be a separate offense. Stopping a violation would not be automatic, and Loretto would have to go through channels of authority.

Callies noted that owners of existing outdoor wood burning stoves still would be able to fire up under the proposed ordinance. Then City Councilors asked what else could Loretto do to address outdoor stove complaints. Often they result in visits by the Loretto Fire Department to discover the reason for the smoke. One suggestion was requiring the owner of the stove to pay for fire calls after a certain limit has been reached.

Then City Councilors talked about burning other fuels, such as dirty oil, that might result in complaints about smoke. City Councilor Tom Pedersen commented that the problem is what is being burned, not the type of furnace.

Callies left the meeting with direction to look further at how to address complaints about smoke, enforcement of an ordinance, and regulations about burning other unclean fuels. She was expected to bring a revised ordinance to the August City Council meeting. The City Council would hold a public hearing before it takes action on an ordinance.

Turning to the subject of storm water, Mayor Kent Koch showed the City Council a sample ordinance that would regulate the discharge of storm water by Loretto residents and businesses. The sample ordinance was from the city of Maple Plain.

An ordinance for Loretto would require citizens to keep discharges from sump pumps on their property rather than dumping them onto city streets, Koch said after the meeting. Also, it would be illegal to send sump pump discharges into the city wastewater system. Sump pump inspections might be part of the ordinance.

“We don’t want storm water discharged on city streets during the winter,” said Public Works Director Jeff Leuer. Storm water discharges have resulted in ice being built up on streets.

The City Council asked Callies to draft a storm water discharge ordinance and bring it back to a future meeting.

The City Council also:

ACCEPTED a $20,000 donation from the Loretto Fire Relief Association that will be used for fire department expenses.

APPROVED up to $500 to pay for the development of a park plan by city engineers Wenck and Associates. The plan would apply to the Loretto ball fields and other city parks. With this document, the city can set aside money in the budget for future repair and replacement of park items and facilities.

DECIDED to ask the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District to notify Loretto when it is spraying in the city for mosquitoes. This information will enable Loretto to notify residents and businesses to keep their windows closed during spraying time.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]