Gerry Mrosla, planning commission chair, came to the Marine on St. Croix Council Nov. 12 to request that the planning commission be allowed to hire a wireless communications consultant to ensure that Marine’s proposed ordinance allows for autonomy and flexibility for the community while not running afoul of Federal regulations and exposing the city to ordinance challenges.
The commission sought assistance on two tasks:
• To develop a two-part ordinance based on a model template with customizations for Marine for a) current macro (4G) service equipment, and b) future small cell (5G) service equipment (even though it is unlikely this service will be available in the city for the foreseeable future).
• Provide a map and spreadsheet of all current towers discoverable near Marine to allow the commission to understand in greater detail the current coverage gaps and how they can be addressed.
The commission wishes to hire senior planner Carly Kehoe, a telecommunications expert on wireless, Smart City, IoT planning and 5G deployment with KPCG, for a cost of up to $5,000. Council members asked for a statement of work and a timeline to complete the work. Council member Anderson did not want the work to extend past the first quarter of 2021 to allow for a public hearing on the ordinances in 3-4 months, then an RFP for proposals in spring so work could begin next summer.
The Council noted that there is no money in the general budget for this expense this year. It will be discussed at the Truth in Taxation meeting (6 p.m., Dec. 1) for inclusion in the 2021 budget.
Mrosla reported that the commission is wrapping up its overall review of ordinances this month. He reminded residents that the proper protocol to share information with the commission is to send it to the city administrator, not committee members. Anderson said that e-forms are being added to the new city website, which should help to standardize a process.
City Logo Trademark
The city administrator, Lynette Peterson, reported that Marine would need two trademarks for its new logo, one for black and white and one for color. She proposed, and the Council approved, hiring a company that specializes in trademark work to handle the process for a cost of approx. $1,000. The Council is looking into e-commerce partnerships to allow the sale of branded community “swag” without requiring staff time.
Jim Maher, chair of the Marine library board, reported that the library’s request for an additional drawdown from the Jordan bequest to pay for library upgrades was approved by the Washington County library board. The Marine library’s new website should be operational next month, and interior library upgrades are almost complete. He reminded residents that they could still check out books via email or phone orders.
The library will host an online program 7 p.m., Nov. 19 with Professor Edward Fleming, Curator of Anthropology at the Science Museum of Minnesota. He will talk about what archaeological sites near Marine have shown about the lives of indigenous peoples who inhabited the valley long before Europeans arrived.
GreenStep EV and Dark Sky Projects
Leslie MacKenzie, coordinator for Marine’s GreenStep Cities committee, met with Jason Crotty of the City’s public works, and a new EV charger location was identified along 3rd St., next to the lift station. This location had the added benefit of clear sightlines from the freeway for visible signage, being located near an electrical transformer, and already being hand-cleared of snow because of the lift station.
In order to finalize a proposed budget, the EV team is seeking electrician bids. One has been received for $4,700 (inclusive of installation and hardware). MacKenzie reported that the team is investigating a new RFP just released by the State of MN to fund level 2 EV chargers.
The EV team provided electricity usage estimates ranging from $72/yr initial usage (Red Wing’s first year was $45) to $576/yr if EV ownership expands according to state plans of 20% by 2030.
The Dark Night Sky team has drafted educational material for inclusion on the city website and will be appearing on River Radio in December. Plans for an outdoor stargazing event were put on hold due to increased COVID concerns. The Team provided example Dark Sky ordinance language to the Planning Commission for review.
Progress toward attaining Step 4 status for the city are on hold until the Council approves staff time to complete a questionnaire and provide documentation in order to qualify for free energy assessments for three municipally owned buildings, and a phone call with staff from the B3 benchmarking program of the MN Dept of Commerce.
Town Hall Art Show, Dec 18
Mary Jo Van Dell requested permission to rent the town hall on December 18 at the resident rate for an art show to support several local artists. Her request was approved.
Public Safety & Roads
The Council approved a new fire department volunteer, Justin McNamara, pending background check. The Council approved payment to Dresel Contracting for the first part of the road reconstruction work, in the amount of $584,480.
Parks, Recreation & Greenspaces
Anderson reported that the October movie night – a new recreational event for the community – attracted 80 people, with lots of children enjoying “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Anne Reich, chair of the Mill Site park, reported that her group, local water stewards, and Council member Pardun had met with Mike Isensee of the Watershed District to collaborate on plans for the channel alongside the trail from 3rd Street to the River. Trees were removed at the top of the trail and along the north side to allow more sun for deep rooted native vegetation to help with erosion control. The Watershed District is seeking ways to retain the natural features most appreciated by the community.
The Watershed District asked the Marine Council to pass a resolution to allow it to reduce the number of Watershed board managers from 7 to 5. All other watershed boards in Washington County have five managers. Council members praised the work of the Watershed District for their good communications with communities. They noted that Marine resident Jeff Roach had recently been appointed as a board manager by county commissioner Fran Miron.
The Forest Advisory committee provided an overview of its work in 2020, and in 2021 it will continue to work on Emerald Ash Borer education and efforts to control buckthorn.
Request to Vacate Cherry Street
The Sandagers again came before the council to request that the city vacate a portion of Cherry St. to make it possible for them to sell their home. They provided a property survey. It is city policy not to vacate streets, however Cherry St. had been vacated both to the east and the west of this property. With this additional information in hand, the Council set a hearing date of 7:05 p.m., Dec. 10.