Greenfield discusses ‘builder friendly’ survey proposal

The Greenfield City Council, at its Feb. 5 meeting, spent a considerable amount of time discussing a proposed amendment to an existing zoning requirement in relation to surveying.

Councilor Chuck Alcon explained the reason the proposed change was coming before the council and what it was intended to do, something the council discussed briefly at a prior meeting.

The proposal, which has been to the city’s planning commission and has had a public hearing, would allow properties of more than 10 acres that are having building or developing on just a small part of the land to apply for an exemption for a full parcel survey.

Alcon said that it was brought to his attention by residents in the city who were replacing an old home with a new one in basically the same spot on an 80-acre parcel. The property owners, following current city ordinance, required them to have the entire 80 acres surveyed, something which is could be cost prohibitive, Alcon said, and is unnecessary.

A discussion ensued, and Councilor Mark Holten wanted to make sure additional fees relating to city staff involvement in granting exemptions were covered.

“We keep half of the building permit costs. There’s your fee,” Alcon told the council. He said he was wary of charging for administrator or clerk’s time, and that it would be minimal.

After further discussion regarding fees, and with the full council in agreement that the intent was in the best interest of affected builders, it was decided that language should be added to the proposed resolution that would include an escrow the city could hold onto until the exemption was deemed appropriate, or in the event professional services (attorney, engineer, planner) are needed to make a determination. The resolution will go back to the planning committee for this modification.

Mayor Brad Johnson added that this was not a change made to accommodate a specific parcel, but one that could affect several as building activity picks up. In the areas of the city zoned 1 in 5, this would not be applicable.

In other news, Margaret Webb, assistant to the city administrator, brought information to the council regarding a sound system for the meeting hall on Town Hall Drive, which included a quote for equipment and installation by a local vendor. The council budgeted $5,000 for this improvement for 2014, and a resident at a prior meeting asked that council move on it.

The audio portion of the proposal came to about $4,000, with an additional visual component for and additional $1,500.

Resident Joe LePore, who stated that he’s been in the sound business for 30 years, said that he did not think the proposal was adequate for the needs of the meeting chambers, and he urged the council to get additional quotes before moving forward.

The council directed staff to obtain additional quotes with a time frame of four weeks.

Councilor Holten suggested that instead of asking potential bidders to come in at the budgeted amount for the improvement, that council instead wait to see what options are proposed. If an efficient and effective system comes in higher than $5,000, but seems the best option, the council may be able to consider phasing it in over more time.

“I don’t want to go to Menards and get a sound system and hope that it works,” he added.

The council is expected to revisit this issue, possibly taking action, in March.

Also news in the city is the expected hiring of Bonnie Ritter as the city’s new administrator. The council recently approved extending an offer to Ritter, who has worked in municipal government at the cities of Mound and Minneapolis.

The next regular meeting of the Greenfield City Council is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6390 Town Hall Drive.