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City Council addresses public concerns, fills planning vacancy

The Lennox City Council met Monday, June 10 in the Lennox Boardroom. Council members heard agenda items including public comments, filling a Planning and Zoning vacancy, and moving forward on the fight against Emerald Ash Borer.

Mayor Danny Fergen opened the meeting by opening the floor up to public comment. The first to take to the podium was Mitch Marcotte. 

“I ran into a scenario where I was looking for some information on our conflict-of-interest policy. Now, the federal government has a conflict-of-interest policy, state government has a conflict-of-interest policy, and every city in Minnesota has one, I’m from Minnesota, and what is ours is what I would like to know and where is that?” he said. 

With no discussion on the policy, Mr. Marcotte returned to his seat.

Kathy Schleif stood to speak about parks in the area. 

“Do we have any parks in the area that have respect to military, veterans, anything like that because through small towns in Iowa and South Dakota I’ve seen a lot of small towns with that and I’m just wondering if we have anything like that or it that’s been addressed in the past?” she questioned. 

“We do have, just down the block here, next to our American Legion — a reflecting area that honor those who serve,” responded alderman Bill Daugherty.

Joyce Pingrey was next to voice her concerns. 

“My question is, when the stuff is not done right with this improvement and has decreased the value of my property because of the cement work and the lack of grass and weeds in the boulevard and cracks in the cement and cuts that they weren’t supposed to be cut and I’m told it’s going to be fixed. Do I have a guarantee that it will be fixed?” she asked. 

Mayor Fergen responded stating someone would follow up with Ms. Pingrey’s request. 

The second reading of Ordinance 650 and public meeting was held. The Ordinance would rezone Creekside Addition to the City of Lennox from a single-family district to a multi-family district and the official zoning map of the City of Lennox will be amended to include the rezoning. With no public comment or discussion, the motion was approved. 

The Lennox Planning Commission has one open seat following the resignation of Lauren VanDriel. 

“I appreciate the number of people that applied or threw their name in the hat so to speak for this open position. The Planning Commission is appointed by the mayor and is responsible for establishing and enforcing the zoning regulations of the community. These ordinances are in place to protect the community and to meet the planning needs of the community. The Planning Commission is also responsible for planning the expansion of the community as it grows. At the last City Council meeting, I recommended that citizens submit their names in a form of application for this vacancy and I had several conversations with potential applicants. I asked if they were interested in submitting their application by noon today (June 10) and I was very surprised at the number of people that did submit their application,” Mayor Fergen said. 

Cody Parker, Nick Cable, Andy Klenner, Laura These, and Randy Weischedel all submitted applications for the open seat. 

“Every single one of these people is very qualified to serve on this planning and zoning committee. For those of you that are not appointed, just a word of encouragement, I hope this does not deter you from becoming more involved in the city in the future and we will continue to have openings and city council member positions that will open,” Fergen said. 

Andy Klenner stood out to Mayor Fergen with his prior community experience and workplace experience and was selected to be the newest Planning and Zoning Committee member. Motion to approve Klenner to Planning and Zoning approved.

The City of Lennox was notified earlier this year that the Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in Lennox and City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats provided an update on the issue. 

“The Council did approve the first version of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) recovery plan which includes several steps to assess and mitigate EAB throughout the community. So far, we’ve had an assessment inventory done in Westerman Park and the next assessment in the recovery plan is to inventory and assess ash trees located in the city’s right-of-way so boulevard trees. Again, I have engaged Sam Kezar with Aspen Arboriculture Solutions for this work,” he said. 

The proposal for the project includes taking an inventory of all street ash trees, assessment of the trees and those that are found to be dead, in poor or fair conditions will be marked with a pink ‘x’ for removal as well as additional consultation as needed. The cost of the proposal is $23,900 with an additional hourly rate of $275 per hour.

Vander Plaats was asked to survey residents on the use of consumer fireworks in Lennox. 

“I put out a survey the following day and shut off comments last week Thursday so we could get the numbers in here. In terms of the survey results and whether people support or oppose resident use of consumer fireworks in Lennox, 78 percent of respondents supported with 22 percent opposing. We asked about several restrictions that communities could place and what folks would support. Those that had majority support were used only during Independence Day and New Year’s Day holidays, use restricted to specific hours on the days allowed, and use of fireworks not allowed during the dry periods,” he said. 

“Given that it’s June 10 and we’re a few weeks away from an awesome day, I believe we need to respect what our citizens are asking and further vet this to define what it is that we can allow working with our volunteer fire department to come up with some form of allowed fireworks in city limits but at an acceptable level that the fire department would have input on,” Daugherty said. 

Mayor Fergen believes that there needs to be a way to find common ground on this, but with the holiday so close, the conversation now needs to be more educational in nature and getting committees together with the fire department and police department to find out where the problems are and what can be done.


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