From building code to bowfishing, city and county officials discuss wide range of issues at joint meeting – Alexandria Echo Press

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Among the dozen or so topics discussed between the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the Alexandria City Council at a joint meeting Tuesday, May 3, included the city’s two-mile radius rule, bowfishing in city limits, deer hunting in city limits, street projects, sales tax and the Douglas County Library’s long-range plan.

Commissioner Charlie Meyer once again voiced his dislike of the city’s two-mile radius rule.

Charlie Meyer

Property owners within the radius are under the “land use” or zoning control of Douglas County and are also within the city’s building code enforcement area. In this area, two permits are required – a land use permit from the county and a building permit from the city.

Meyer, who has brought this issue up several times during joint meetings between the two entities, said to make life simpler, the city should just “get rid of it.”

Douglas County Chairperson Tim Kalina feels the same way, stating, “It’s ludicrous that we have it. I would like to have it taken off.”

Alexandria Mayor Bobbie Osterberg said there is no duplication and that if the county wants to forgo its land use permit, it can do so.

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Bobbie Osterberg

Marty Schultz, Alexandria city administrator, said to clarify, a land use permit is needed by the county and that if residents build a house inside city limits and its two-mile radius, they need a building permit.

“You have to have two permits to follow the rules,” said Schultz. “What the city does is enforce the building code.”

Alexandria City Planner Mike Weber said there is no double fees or double permitting. One is a land use permit and the other is a building permit.

There was no consensus and no action taken by either party over the issue.

Bill Franzen, city council member, said the board and council should get together more than once a year, and both entities agreed to meet again in October.

Meyer stated that he promised he would not bring up the two-mile radius at that meeting.

Commissioner Jerry Rapp brought up the issue of having a deer hunt within the city limits to which the mayor replied, “We are past that.”

The Alexandria City Council had been researching the idea of having a city-wide deer hunt for quite some time, but recently decided against it for safety reasons.

Rapp believes that there are too many deer and that having a hunt would take care of the problem.

“It makes sense to thin them out,” he said, explaining how many he sees while driving through town.

Jerry Rapp

Jerry Rapp

He said that with a little bit of thought, a deer hunt by way of bow and arrow could work. Rapp also said he doesn’t understand why people can’t “archery fish” within the city limits either.

Alexandria Police Chief Scott Kent explained to Rapp that the city did exhaustive research and were very thorough about making the decision not to have a deer hunt. He also explained to Rapp that people can spearfish from a boat on open water, but that bowfishing or spearfishing from shore is prohibited because of safety concerns.

“Any lake is open to bowfishing in city limits as long as you are in the water,” the chief said.

A roundabout on Nokomis, the 18th Avenue project and road extension near the fairgrounds were all topics of discussion.

As of right now, there are no roundabouts scheduled to be constructed on Nokomis, but it is something that has been talked about. A corridor study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation indicated that the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Nokomis could be a possible location of a roundabout, but Schultz said if it happens, it wouldn’t be until 2028 or 2029.

The city, he said, is looking at Nokomis and that there has been discussion about a possible “mini roundabout” at 6th, 10th or maybe 12th Avenues. Nothing has been decided at this point, said Schultz.

Alexandria City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven provided an update to the commissioners on the 18th Avenue project, noting that work is set to begin this summer.

Meyer voiced his concerns about the stoplight on 17th Avenue, stating, “I really hope the lights at 17th stay.”

Schoonhoven said for now the lights will stay, but that MnDOT will be doing a corridor study and will be taking a look at the signal light system.

Sales tax for road projects

A question was asked about the county’s half-cent sales tax and Douglas County Public Works Director Tim Erickson explained how it works.

The half-cent sales tax was approved in 2014 for a list of road improvement projects within the county. When those projects are done, the tax would be lifted, which Erickson said would be in about 2030.

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Tim Erickson

However, he also noted that his intention is to update the list and bring it back to the board of commissioners as it is his understanding that it would take a public hearing and a resolution to add more projects and extend the sales tax.

Erickson also clarified that the sales tax was not set up for a certain period of time, but was set up to end when the projects were complete.

Franzen asked about the long-range plans for the county library and Becky Albright, chairperson for the library board, provided a brief update. She noted, however, that she is on the next agenda for the City Council and that she didn’t want to say too much now.

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library needs assessment

was completed and Albright said they are in the preliminary stages of going through the report, but that one of the big takeaways is that the space needs of the library are critical and that the current location does not offer much in the way of expansion.

Franzen, as well as some of the county commissioners, said they want to work together on the library needs, which is why Franzen pushed for a second meeting between the city and the county.

The meeting was set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24.

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