Mayor Bruce Poole was appointed as Spring Grove's new zoning administrator on Jan. 23. City council members made the move to fill the vacancy created by Theresa Coleman's exit as city administrator. She had filled both positions.

Councilman and Planning Commission member Robert Vogel told members that the city needed someone to review zoning permits.

Vogel said that certain permits, such as for some decks and fences can be approved by the zoning administrator. The rest go to the Planning Commission, then to the city council for final approval. The process is time-sensitive according to Minnesota statutes, he added.

"What we don't want is ordinary people who just want to build a garage to have to wait weeks and weeks," Vogel stated. "We'll be getting you a list of the kind of permits that have to go to the Planning Commission, so you'll know."

"I have no problem with looking at them," Poole offered. "I'm a professional engineer, so I would understand most of the drawings."

City Attorney Joe Hammell said a motion to appoint Poole as the person to receive permit applications and route them to the Planning Commission or issue them administratively was required.

Council member Nancy Nelson made the motion, seconded by Vogel. The vote was unanimous.

Hail damage to be repaired

Quotes for hail damage repairs to city property were reviewed, but only one bidder had submitted quotes. T-N-T Painting and Construction of Spring Grove offered to repair all the structures, which sustained damage mostly to roofing, siding and gutters.

The costs were: SWIM Center pool house for $6,300, the campground bathrooms for $816, the Fest Building for $5,941, the Fire Hall for $29,370 and the roof over Well #4 for $2,950. All bids were accepted on a single vote.

Other financial matters

Two interest payments for the yet-to-be issued Highway 44 bonds will need to originate from the 2013 budget, Nelson told members. That means finding approximately $60,000 to $70,000 to make those deposits, which will be due on Aug. 1, 2013, and Feb. 1, 2014.

Nelson said that no provisions have been made for the payments so far. She recommended that council members find the money in the existing budget rather than borrowing, which would compound the cost.

Although the interest on the bond is still unknown, it is expected to cost from 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent. The total bond is estimated at $2.73 million and will require 20 years to retire. Principal payments would occur once a year, beginning on Feb. 1, 2015.

On a related note, members were told that public finance professional Michael Bubany will speak to the new council on the costs associated with the project on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

No further changes to Main St.

Also, members briefly discussed the large planters that remain in the Main Street plan, but didn't eliminate any more for the time being.

Nelson said that former Mayor Don Vesterse told her that when large planters were installed in a past beautification project, they did not work out well.

"He said that everything dies, and it was a big flop," she stated.

Routine items approved

Members voted to appoint Merchants Bank, Spring Grove as the official depository for city funds for 2013.

The official newspaper for the publication of ordinances and other matters required by law will be the Spring Grove Herald.

Another resolution appointed the Spring Grove Fire Department officers for 2013. Daryl Melbostad will remain fire chief. Pete Wennes will serve as first assistant fire chief. Second assistant/ training officer will be Trent Turner. Brett Wiste will serve as secretary.

The council voted to not waive monetary limits on municipal tort liability. An individual claimant will be limited to $500,000 in damages while limits for all claimants for a single occurrence will be $1,500,000.

Parking hearing set

All of Main Street and Division Avenue south to the Post Office would be included in a new no parking ordinance, which is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on Feb. 6.

The statute would be year-round from 2 to 6 a.m. It would clear the thoroughfares for both snow plowing and street sweeping, it was explained.

Other council matters

Council members voted unanimously to hire Sophie Wiste as a bartender at The Corner Store. Councilwoman Lorilyn Dehning reported that two bartenders had quit, leaving the establishment short-handed.

Nelson stated that when the Planning Commission reviews the city's zoning ordinances, the "unconstitutional" portion that allows certain city zoning officials to enter private property must be excluded.

"Only (Police Chief) Paul Folz can go on a property," she said, "and only with a search warrant."

Nelson suggested that the Spring Grove EDA utilize the services of Houston County EDA Coordinator Jordan Wilms, who could serve as executive director. "He could do it at no cost to the city," she mused.

Some issues were tabled for more information. Dehning was asked to investigate health insurance options for city employees.

All members were asked to look into smart meters for both electric and water usage. In particular, the council wants to know if there is any grant funding available for upgrades.

Next meeting announced

The council's next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 168 W. Main St. with a public hearing on parking first.