Yup, the Black Binder is back again and here’s what’s up:
Monday, March 16: Regular Council Meeting @ 7 pm @ City Hall. Highlights of this week’s agenda include
Approval of a library management agreement with Lonsdale: The City Council action is the culmination of much planning and work by Northfield’s library director, Lynne Young, City Administrator Joel Walinski, and Lonsdale city staff. The short version is that Lonsdale is constructing a library in its new assisted living facility, Villages of Lonsdale (run by Three Links Care Center) which will be managed by Northfield. Management includes selecting and cataloging materials, hiring staff and planning events; Lonsdale will pay an administrative fee of 10% of the new library’s annual budget (about $5500) to Northfield for management services. The net effect will be, I think, a slight redistribution of library services and funding around Rice County with small anticipated decreases in use of the Northfield library and in County funding of Northfield’s library. Will it be one of those win-win situations we all seek? I think we’ll have to see how much of an administrative cost this agreement will impose on Northfield and what the funding impact will be.
First reading of the wind turbine ordinance. I’ve said enough about this here and here. But here’s what I think should have happened on this issue. The Council should have consulted the Comprehensive Plan and Energy Task Force Plan (we would have found support for wind energy in both, but neither has been referenced in any of the process so far) and then formed a task force to consider the issue which would have included members of the Planning Commission (since it’s a zoning issue), Environmental Quality Commission (since it is an environmental issue), Former Energy Task Force (since they looked at this issue in their report), representatives of both colleges, plus Council, staff and public. The Task Force could have been charged with (1) recommending whether “big wind” is desirable within the city limits, (2) where the best locations would be (based on wind data, current and proposed/possible land uses), (3) researched ordinances and provided a draft. The Planning Commission held the required public hearing and reviewed the ordinance, but all questions about desirable legal language were answered by the party which wants approval (am I the only one who thinks this is fishy?). So now it’s back to the Council.
Second reading of an ordinance amending the City’s annexation ordinance to require applicants requesting annexation into the City provide notice to the township rather than the current requirement that township approval be obtained. This is on the consent agenda, but I’d look for someone to request it be moved to the regular agenda because the e-mails and phone calls have been rolling in on this issue, mostly from residents of surrounding townships. I support this change, although I agree with some of the writers/callers that it does give more power to the city (or really to the applicant). But, if the City is doing its job right, then it has identified what its land needs are and will be, has a good working relationship with townships, and certainly isn’t annexing just because it can. This statement is unlikely to mollify folks who have had bad experiences with Northfield city government in the past, but I really really support our Comprehensive Plan goals of growing compactly and using infill and redevelopment as first choice development tools which should mean Northfield’s appetite for annexation is not great.
Don’t forget, you can access the Council agenda and packet (see pictures of all the Councilmembers!), the Administrator’s Friday memo, as well as see what meetings are scheduled on Northfield’s website.
Tuesday, March 17 (Happy St. Patrick’s Day): Library Board meeting and retreat. I don’t have the agenda yet, but I’m sure the proposed library expansion will be on the list and I’ll update this later.