Dangerous and vicious animal discussion continues at city council
By Clay Schuldt
Special to The Argus
The Caledonia City Council returned to the issue of enacting an ordinance that could ban pit bulls at its Monday, June 11, meeting. Over the last few weeks, the council has been inundated with letters from individuals regarding the original discussion at the May 29 meeting.
The discussion came about following a recent incident involving a pit bull attacking and killing a smaller dog. Police Chief Kurt Zehnder suggested that Caledonia should have an ordinance banning pit bulls.
Since the May 29 meeting, letters from all over have come to council, many questioning the legality of banning a particular breed of animal.
The council admitted that a specific ban on pit bulls was difficult to enact and may have to begin with a Dangerous and Vicious Animal Ordinance. City Administrator Jennifer Feely said that the League of Minnesota Cities has a process for going about animal bans. Feely will bring further information regarding the Vicious Animal Ordinance to future council meetings.
City Coordinating and Zoning Office
City Coordinating/Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy brought to the council a zoning application from Duane Olson to tear down an old garage on his property and build a new garage. The new garage would be set back further from the property line, five feet from the north line and eight feet from the east.
The Council had no issue with granting a setback for the garage, as the new setback would align the new garage with the house, an improvement on the current structure. However, the council was reluctant to approve the square footage for the garage, which was planned for 840 square feet.
“Our hangup is on the size of the garage,” said Mayor Robert Burns. Burns asked Olson if it would be possible to shrink the size of the garage to under 800 square feet, but at this time Olson did want to do so.
The council decided to wait to approve the square-foot variance until the next City Council meeting on June 25. Council member Paul Fisch made a motion to grant a setback for the property, which was passed by the council.
Gerald Pieper requested a second curb cut on his property to allow him to drive his motorhome across his property and park the vehicle out of the way. Pieper will pay for the cost the curb cut, and the motorhome will only be stored on the back of the property when not in use during summer months.
The vehicle will be stored elsewhere during the winter season. Pieper did inform his neighbor of his plan, and his neighbor had no problem with the arrangement.
“As long as he does not exceed the overall length allowed for a driveway, I don’t see an issue,” said Mayor Burns. A motion was made and passed granting Pieper the curb cut.
Power shutoff to facilitate tree removal
Steve Bauer spoke with Caledonia’s Head Electrician Matt Blocker requesting the city shut off power to allow him to remove a two large pine trees near the power line. The trees would be taken down while the power was shut off, would affect eight other properties and would take four to five hours. The tree removal would occur at 214 South Fifth Street across from the deer pen.
During the meeting, the council phoned Bauer to ask a few questions. Bauer explained that the intention is to trim the trees down below the power lines before dropping them. Bauer already has the equipment to do the work, but needs the power shut down first, for safety reasons. Bauer was flexible on when the power could be shut off. Bauer did say there is no rush to complete the project as he needs time to bring in his equipment. Before authorizing the project, the council felt the plan should be approved by Blocker.
New chlorinator purchase
Water/Wastewater Operator Ryan Skillings requested authorization to purchase a new chlorinator. The new chlorinator would be in reserve in case one of Caledonia’s three chlorinators breaks down. Caledonia’s three chlorinators are all at least a decade old.
The chlorinators are responsible for measuring the chlorine levels of the city’s water, which ensures the quality of the water distributed to Caledonia. “It’s a public health issue if we cannot measure the amount of chlorine in the water,” said City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely.
The Council agreed with Skillings’ recommendation, feeling that the purchase of a new chlorinator was necessary. The Council approved a motion to purchase a chlorinator from Hawkins Water Treatment Group at a cost of $1,105 with a year warranty.
The City Council authorized the purchase of five yards of Red Diamond Top Dressing Mix for the Memorial Baseball Field at a price of $650. An employee will be sent to pick up the top dressing mix, rather than have it delivered, which will save Caledonia $159.25.
In 2011, the City spent $37,178.87 on the ball field project. Of this amount, $5,000 was offset by the Twins for Kids Field Grant. In addition $3,000 was received from the American Legion Baseball Association.
The Council approved a request from Evergreen Cemetery to pay for the disposal of tree branches from the site.
The Council received a request from CCC President Susan Bauer to waive the fee for the tables that would be used for the group Summer Fest fundraising event. The Council agreed to waive the $50 rental fee for the eight tables.
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) President Tim Penny will be at a Council Meeting on July 9, and a special EDA meeting will be scheduled the same night at 5 p.m. to give Penny a chance to discuss EDA matters as well as SMIF issues.
The Council received four applications for the position of Water/Wastewater Operator and voted to move forward with interviews, which are scheduled to begin June 18. In the event Caledonia does hire another Water/Wastewater Operator, the City will continue to contract for Class A operator services for a minimum of six hours per week.