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Tree stumps an issue for Wells council

August 20, 2017
Katie Mullaly - Register Staff Writer , Faribault County Register

The Lorax was nowhere to be found when a Wells citizen came to the City Council last Monday night about a stump removal concern.

His concern was brought about after his sister's property was billed for the removal of a tree stump, which they did not request.

"I'm speaking on behalf of my sister Margean Rosin. I have a citation from the code enforcement department of Wells. She received this letter on July 17 about stumps in her boulevard. At the time she received this letter the stumps were approximately one and a half to two feet tall. As of right now I have them cut down and what I understand now is she's on the list to have someone come and grind these stumps out and seed it and charge her quite a large fee of money. My question is, I want to know if everyone in town got this letter with stumps on their yard or are we singling her out? Who wants to answer that question?"

City administrator Robin Leslie informed the citizen the city was "systematically working through the city" on all yard and tree ordinance issues.

City councilwoman Brenda Weber was quick to join in the conversation about stump removal and the city ordinances that were cited for the concerned citizen.

"Is there a stump ordinance? I've seen many lawns with stumps in the yard and they just put plants on top of them or whatever, and I didn't think it looked too bad. From what I read on nuisances, if you have diseased stumps or trees they're to be removed but I didn't think these were diseased or nuisances." Weber asked of the city administrator.

There was some tension between parties, but Leslie did inform both the male citizen and councilwoman Weber of ongoing ordinance and code enforcement. However, due to a short staff, the code enforcement has been more recently focused on nuisances such as garbage, junked vehicles, standing water and other nuisances that could draw unwanted wildlife onto properties, she said.

"You are responsible for what is in your boulevard. Those trees, I don't know why they were cut down, if they were dead or diseased, nobody contacted the city about cutting the trees down," stated Leslie. "The stumps were left for I don't know how long and, as you said, the stumps were about two feet high. We are systematically working through the city to remove stumps, but we are doing it as we can since we are short of staff, so this year we were focusing on the beltway and downtown."

Leslie stated the focus was on both of those locations due to the Kernel Days celebrations and the Wells Depot Museum being a main visiting point for those days.

And as the city council focused on the needs of their city, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) paid a visit to the city of Wells to discuss a legislative session report. A representative of CGMC, Elizabeth Wefel, visited with the council to inform them of ongoing legislative priorities and discussions.

Wefel reported Wells experienced a slight increase in local government aid, and the CGMC is hoping to see that continue to increase.

She also mentioned that many Greater Minnesota cities are concerned about deficits in the future as many cities have been taking dollars out of their general fund to pay for projects, which Wefel says could create issues in the future.

"When we can reach out to legislators together, we see good progress," said Wefel in lieu of the current DFL?Governor Mark Dayton and GOP house butting heads on current legislative issues. Both the governor and some house members are up for re-election next year.

A quick update from city engineer Travis Winter reported the Wells Business Park is preparing to begin construction this week. Winter and his engineering team met late last week to begin the construction.

City administrator Leslie also updated the council on a few topics of her own. She stated the new state-wide department of motor vehicles system is having some setbacks.

"With the new system, we of course have a learning curve, but it sounds like a lot of Minnesota cities are having the same issues we are. I have tried to reach out to the State to let them know of our issues, but it has been hard getting hold of them due to their influx of calls with this issue," said Leslie. "We are doing what we can and all we ask is that the residents be patient with us as we do our best to keep up with the demands."

Leslie also mentioned a large electrical surge caused some issues at City Hall recently. The electricity knocked out the City Hall servers, which also affected the city's library and liquor store. Even though the City Hall had surge protectors installed, according to Leslie, the electrical current bypassed the surge protectors and knocked out the system anyway.

"The electrician said there was just so much electricity passing through," said Leslie.

Councilwoman Whitney Harig also brought up the subject of day care during the council meeting. She mentioned she had spoken with Jon Feist who has been working with St. Casimir's Pre-K program. Harig hopes to speak with other potential initiative foundations, including the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) about potential dollars to use towards building up a stronger base for day care in the Wells area.

At the beginning of their meeting the City Council went into closed session to discuss alleged employee misconduct regarding firefighter Jonathan Bathke. He was never put on any leave but the City Council investigated the complaint and decided no discipline or further action needed to take place.



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