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Taking on the Corps

By Staff | May 25, 2014

The Blue Earth City Council has managed to leap over a big hurdle that stood in the way of their developing the new North Industrial Park.

And, that hurdle was a federal agency, the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We had a meeting with them last Tuesday morning (May 13),” city engineer Wes Brown told the council at their regular meeting last Monday night. “We met in Congressman Tim Walz’s office in Mankato.”

The Army Corps of Engineers had told the city it could take months before they could make a determination as to their jurisdiction over wetlands in the industrial park area, located north of I-90.

On Tuesday, the city presented its case that speed was of the essence in order to create the new park.

“The corps representatives agreed, and said they could provide a permit in a matter of weeks, instead of months,” Brown says. “That means we can get back on schedule.”

Councilman John Huisman said he was glad to hear the news. He reminded his fellow members of the council of the need for urgency.

“Kibble Equipment has given us an August deadline to have this industrial park ready for them to begin construction,” he said. “Kibble has other options available.”

City administrator Kathy Bailey and city attorney David Frundt both said there is a lot more paperwork to do before the project will be ready to go.

“We have title documentation for the land to prepare, and it is sent to Chicago for them to sign off on,” Bailey says.

Chicago is the site of the regional office of the United States Department of Agriculture. The city is working with the USDA on a nearly $1 million grant to do the infrastructure work at the new industrial park.

The city also recently completed the purchase of the land necessary for the new industrial area.

On Monday, the council took another big step by holding a public hearing dealing with annexation of the land for the new industrial park into the city.

“The federal grant requires all the land to be part of the city,” Frundt told the council. This ordinance tonight annexes the land that is not already in the city limits.”

Frundt says the annexation papers, including maps, will be sent to the State Office of Boundaries for their approval.

“I expect it to be approved within a month,” Frundt says.

In other business at the meeting on Monday night, the council:

Decided to table action on a proposed ordinance dealing with home-based businesses.

City attorney Frundt told the council that most cities the size of Blue Earth have such an ordinance. Currently the city has no way to regulate these home businesses.

However, the council felt it would be too restrictive to someone wanting to run a business, such as a day care, from their home.

They did however, have a first look at an ordinance that would cover how, when and where tattoo parlors would be allowed in the city.

Passed a motion allowing the Pirates to serve beer at their baseball games.

The application for the permit came from the Youth Baseball Association, and that did not go over well with some of the councilmen.

Councilman Russ Erichsrud said he was uncomfortable with the whole situation and when it came time to vote, he said no.

Councilman Dan Brod explained the Pirates need a 501-3(c) designation and use the one of the baseball association instead of getting their own.

Councilman John Huisman wanted it made clear to the Pirates what the responsibilities of serving beer include.

Voted to ask the County Board to seek a state variance so that all options, including angle parking on both sides of the street, are available when Main Street is reconstructed.

On Tuesday morning, the County Board approved doing just that.

Learned the Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors had received seven applications for the position of director of the center.

They narrowed the list to four and plan to start interviews soon.

The council wondered why the board had not selected three finalists as the council had asked them to do.

The answer was there was a tie for the third slot when the ratings were tallied.

The council also repeated they want to make the final decision on who is hired and administrator Bailey said that was still the plan.

Several councilmen indicated they would be sitting in on the interview process.