By Kris Goracke

Two public hearings were held prior to the regular business of last week’s (Nov. 14) Starbuck City Council meeting.  The first public hearing concerned the vacation easement of a Dedicated Right of Way (ROW) between 208 North Main Street and 206 North Main Street west to Wollan Street.  This area is platted as an alley running east to west, just south of the Old Firehall Brewing Company.  At the October city council meeting, brewery owner Jan Payne asked the council for consideration of vacating the alley. At that meeting Payne stated, “We are asking the city to consider vacating the alley next to our building.  We would like to build a patio on the south side and there isn’t enough room.”  

First to address the council was Starbuck resident Eugene Hurt.  Hurt said he had two properties on the block – one on either side of the proposed vacated alley.  “I have a few questions.  Will we get the vacated land?  Are we then responsible for the taxes?  If the alley is vacated, does that mean no one can use it? And my last question is, if a patio is built how will that affect us?  Will there be noise and loud partying at night?” he asked.

Addressing the questions, Starbuck Mayor Gary Swenson said if vacated, the land becomes his property and because it is, no one can use it.  Payne spoke to Hurt’s concern about noise, “I can understand your concern and would like to say that a brewery is not like a bar in the sense we think of one, but rather it is a gathering place – part of the community.  We intend to close at 10 p.m. In addition to having an outdoor space, the patio will also help us be ADA compliant.”

Starbuck resident Bill Pederson spoke next.  “At the last council meeting, you (Swenson) said, ‘We have two campgrounds who will want to come to the brewery, but how will they legally get to the brewery on their golf carts without the alley?’My question is how will these golf carts get there?  Where will they park?”  Swenson answered, “The golf carts may cross the road, but are not allowed to drive on the highway.  There is street parking.”

With no further discussion, the public hearing was closed.  Later in the meeting, the council did approve resolution #2022-24 vacating the dedicated ROW between 206 Main Street and 208 Main Street west to Wollan Street. 

The second public hearing considered Ordinance #113 – regulating the sale of tetrahydrocannabinol (THS).  With no comments, this public hearing closed.

Following the public hearings, the regular meeting continued with a report from Larry Van Hout from Widseth Smith Nolting.  “We are currently working on the 2020 Road Project assessments.  It is our hope the city can hold a public hearing in January,” he said.  Changing topics, Van Hout continued, “There has been recent talk about accessibility for the disabled both at the city park and beach.  I found possible grants to help with the costs if the city is interested.”  He then turned to the discussion to replacing the Starbuck Marina lighthouse.  Van Hout presented several possibilities stating it all depends on where the council wants to go.  “I am just kicking out ideas for you to consider.  It’s up to you,” said Van Hout.  The council instructed Van Hout to meet with the Department of Natural Resources to see what can and cannot be done.

Next on the agenda was Starbuck resident Rob Syverson.  Although not in attendance, Syverson’s written request indicated he wanted clarification on the city ordinance regarding snow removal on the sidewalks.  According to the ordinance: “The owner and the occupant of any property adjacent to a public sidewalk shall use diligence to keep the walk safe for pedestrians.  No owner or occupant shall allow snow, ice, dirt or rubbish to remain on the walk longer than 24 hours after its deposit theron.” Swenson indicated there are programs for anyone who is unable to remove snow.  People are encouraged contact the city office for more information.

In the mayor’s report, Swenson stated that the summer of 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Starbuck Heritage Days as well as the 40th anniversary of the making of the World’s Largest Lefse. 

Next, on the agenda Randy Pederson updated the council on the condition of the pumps at the water facility.  “We had service techs check over our pumps.  The techs found an issue and suggested to overhaul one of the pumps for $5000.  A new pump costs $11,000.   I am asking the city to approve the rebuilding of our old pump.  This way we will have a spare as the other two pumps are in use,” said Pederson.  The council approved.

Pederson also stated he received a bid from Minnewaska Marine for the Starbuck Marina dock floats.  The council accepted the bid. 

City Clerk Joan Kerkvliet updated the council on the need for a new heating and cooling system for the community center.   The current system is 16 years old and does not run as efficiently as it should.  “We are not able to consistently operate the system for the firehall, community room and the city offices, so sometimes one area has the heat on and the other the air conditioning.  With a new system from Johnson Control, we can control the areas and be energy efficient,” said Kerkvliet.  The cost is $14,800 plus electrical work.  The council approved moving forward on this project with Johnson Control.

In other business, 

the council:

•Approved Resolution #2022-23 summary publication of new ordinance #113 regulating the sale of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

•Authorized the interfund transfer of $59,775 for 2022 Hobo Park Expenses.

•Approved sending past due utility bills, over 60 days delinquent to tax rolls at 7% interest.

•Approved sending non-payment of administration citations for blight to tax rolls at 10% interest.

•Approved public hearing at the December 12, 2022 council meeting to sub-divide city land on PID #27-0619-000.

•Approved Resolution #2022-25 canvassing November 8, 2022 election results.

•Tabled a request to add a street light at the curve of Abercrombie and Second Street.

•Approved resolution #2022-24 vacating a dedicated ROW between 206 Main Street and 208 Main Street west to Wollan Street.