The Rockford Fire department was represented by Chief Ben Sanderson and Captain Ron Harkins during public presentation at the Aug. 20 Greenfield City Council Meeting.
The department recently became certified to conduct fire inspections, and the City of Rockford adopted a policy enforcing inspections of commercial properties and residential buildings with more than four units. The inspections are free and conducted annually. The department’s fire district includes a large part of Greenfield, and Sanderson asked that the council consider adopting the same policy for that part of the city.
Councilor Chuck Alcon said that he supported the idea of inspections, citing that Greenfield should come up with its own policy, staying in step with the one the department operates under with Rockford. He asked that when new developments come to the city with plans, that the turnaround time in getting a written report and recommendations be timely, no longer than two weeks.
Sanderson said that the regular process of review by city staff (planner, engineer, attorney) would not require change, and that the department would weigh in at the end of the process, and only offer recommendations if necessary. There is, at this time, no fee for this service. Included for new construction would be consideration of widths of cul de sacs for accessibility, and the placement of fire hydrants.
Alcon noted that this would be important moving forward as the portion of Greenfield that lies within the Rockford fire district is zoned for commercial and denser residential housing.
Upon council agreement, Mayor Brad Johnson directed staff to draft a Fire Inspection Policy for the portion of Greenfield covered by the Rockford department. The question arose if the policy should be all inclusive of the city, but since the Loretto and Hanover Fire Departments service different parts of the city, and they have not made this service available, it was decided to keep the initial policy restricted to the Rockford fire district.
Sanderson told the council that copies with dates, notes and violations (if applicable) would be provided to the City of Greenfield.
Asked by Mayor Johnson about dispatch concerns with Hennepin County, Sanderson said that the lag in notification the department had been facing is in the process of being corrected with double ban width pagers.
The presentation was cut short when both firefighters left to go to a call.
Greenfield resident Glen Janos brought a petition to the council regarding a vacant property in the Hilltop Estates neighborhood. He told the council that the home has been empty for three years, and that it poses health and safety risks as well as being an eyesore.
Mayor Johnson told Janos that the city was unable to do anything due to legalities, and was at the mercy of the State Fire Inspector who was conducting an investigation of the property. He said he believed that there had been some recent action in regard to the case, and expected that the city attorney would have some information shortly. Janos said he was tired of being put off, and that he wanted the name of the party or institution that owned the property so he could send a copy of the petition. Johnson asked Janos to contact the city administrator for a timeline on this matter.
No further action was taken.
City Administrator Kathryne McCullum relayed to the council the latest contract presented to the city for assessing services by Hennepin County.
The contract was revised in review, by the city’s attorney, and language that included the city covering costs for services over and above the base price was removed. The assessor’s office submitted a contract price of $32,000 (up from $28,000) but staff negotiations resulted in a new price of $30,000. The council believes this is still too high, and directed McCullum to continue negotiations. Councilor Alcon said that the bottom line was that the city has a 3% levy limit, and to satisfy an increase more than that (the $30,000 proposal represents a 7% increase) would require the city to tap its operating expenses.
There was no action taken on this item.
The next regular meeting of the Greenfield City Council is Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Dr.