Win Miller, chair of the board for the Marine Elementary School, reported that the school had received approval from the MN department of education and will open in Fall 2022. 

The school has applied for a federal Charter School Program Grant to use to hire a school director and curriculum expert, as well as computer equipment and curriculum materials. In the meantime, the school is conducting a fundraising drive to raise $50,000. 

Susan Loomis has resigned from the board, which is looking for new members. 

The school will host a Halloween party for children and families Oct. 31, from 3-6 p.m. 

 

Wireless Ordinance Approved

The City Council approved the wireless communication tower ordinances for 4G and 5G. The language of the new ordinances can be found on the city website. An RFP has been drafted and is in the hands of the city attorney. The Council hopes to have secured proposals before the December Council meeting. 

 

Reporting Airboats on the River

Residents continue to complain about noisy airboats at night, as well as light pollution from high-powered lights. An airboat is a vessel powered by a propeller or fan that is above the waterline.

The St. Croix is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. There are National Park regulations regarding audio emissions: 60 decibels is the limit. Furthermore, it is illegal to operate an airboat in the federal zone of the St. Croix River. To report airboat use or a noise violation, call 1-800-727-5847 (or 1-800-Park-Tip).

 

Watershed Management Plan Update

Mike Isensee, administrator of the Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District, shared with the Council that the “theme” of the 10-year plan update is to keep what’s working and fill in the gaps. The Watershed District will turn its attention toward streams, including citizen monitoring. The plan goal most relevant to Marine residents is that of restoring the water quality of the Mill Stream. 

CMSCWD proposes adding a riparian permit specialist to their staff to handle permit processing, rule enforcement, shoreline inspection, technical assistance and volunteer coordination. The district handles approximately 45 permits and 5-7 violations a year. This position should help the Watershed District be more responsive to shoreland owners. 

Council member Wendy Ward moved to support the 10-year plan with two additions: 1) add funding to measure, monitor and protect local groundwater quantity and quality, and 2) add funding and plans to identify, monitor and protect the unnamed seep springs that are a unique characteristic of Marine and the St. Croix watershed. “These springs, likely numbering in the hundreds, are a unique water source supporting rare plants and animals while contributing high quality cold water to the St. Croix River,” she said. 

Wetland Buffers

Council member Ward asked the Council to develop and establish a wetland buffer ordinance, saying that Section 405.6 of the city code is inadequate. It fails to mention buffer zones and contact with the Watershed District is not being triggered by the development of single-family residences close to water.

Council member Gwen Roden said that the city did a lot of work with the Watershed District in the past. “It felt like we had very secure protections for any new development anywhere around a water system. We might as well be in the Everglades; there are water systems everywhere.”

Ward said she had been consulting with Isensee and there was mutual recognition that there was a laxity in regulations. Resident John Goodfellow reminded the Council that he had brought this issue forward in March with the development of single-family homes along Rosabelle. 

“It’s very clear there is a disconnect between the Watershed and the City.” 

Council member Anderson said that May Township had updated its codes and suggested the planning commission look to them as a model. While agreeing with Ward in principle, he asked that there be a balance with the need to provide affordable family housing in city. 

Council members were reminded that the planning commission has a lot of their plate and this was not one of their top priorities. Council member Lon Pardun said that while he didn’t disagree that this was important, it is only one of 20 or so items before the planning commission. 

 

Planning commission

The Council clarified the process for vetting applicants for the planning commission, which currently has open positions. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 for a variance to allow home construction on a nonconforming lot at 360 Robert St. A zoning code amendment hearing is scheduled for Nov. 10, 7 p.m., during the Marine City Council meeting.

 

Trails, open space and Natural Resources Committee

The following applicants were interviewed and approved for membership on the new Trials, Open Space and Natural Resources Committee. 

• Harold Teasdale

• Katie Brekke

• John Goodfellow

• Ann Underbrink Hill

• Andy Powell

• Stella Powell

• Mary Vogel

• Tom Warth

• Clara Wicklund

 

Septic/wells

“That’s the fun of living in a 182-year-old city. Sometimes you find things…” said Council member Pardun as he shared his research into the history of the city’s water testing at well sites near the drainfield. 

In 1985, at the request of nearby residents, and by city resolution, the city agreed to test certain resident wells near the drainfield for the life of the drainfield, plus two years. Most cities do not do this and the MPCA has asked the city why it is submitting residential samples. Because it was approved in a city resolution, the city cannot simply stop testing. (No problems have ever been detected in any of the test wells.) The city will conduct testing again in the spring and will then discuss whether there is a need for testing in future. 

Pardun also reminded the Council that before the closure of the school, the well that services the school failed one of its water quality tests (although that failure didn’t happen again). Ultraviolent light treatment equipment needs to be installed at the school before the well water can be used again and this needs to be completed before the school opens. 

This was known before the city bought the school building and the price of the building was reduced to account for the cost of the system. Pardun said updated pricing for the equipment would cost between $45,000 and $75,000. The Council discussed using CARES Act funding for this purpose. 

 

Public safety

Fire chief Dan Malmgren reported that attendance at the Oct. 2 street dance was down due to rain. In 2022, they would like to switch the date back to the third Saturday in June. The Public Safety Department will schedule an annual meeting to review operations. 

Following an accident with injuries at a bicycling event on County 4/Highway 95, Council member Anderson reviewed the city’s outdoor entertainment ordinance and found that it did not include anything regarding events that start or finish in another jurisdiction. Anderson, who has assisted the City of St. Paul with their permitting ordinance, will review options for enhancing Marine’s code. 

 

Roads

Roadwork is complete in downtown Marine. Public works will patch pits in the parking lot from motorcycle kickstands to prevent damage during the winter freeze/thaw cycle. 

Other business

• The Council waived the Village Hall rental fee for the annual new year’s eve party, which has been a fundraising event for the fire department and the fireworks committee. A temporary liquor license was approved. 

• The Council approved school board election judges – June Eagleton, Gail Coolidge, Mary Skamser, Diane Mills and Annie Moore.

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