The Belle Plaine City Council decided not to move forward with proposed parking regulations that would limit street parking in residential areas from midnight to 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 to April 1. Ultimately, the council decided it would negatively affect too many cars. On Monday night, for example, several vehicles were parked on Chestnut Street in Belle Plaine. If the ordinance had passed, these drivers would have had to find a new place to park or risk getting ticketed or towed. 

The Belle Plaine City Council met on Monday, Nov. 16, to hold public hearings on proposed parking regulations and a property owner’s request to build a shed that does not comply with current city code.

 Parking Regulations

The Belle Plaine City Council has decided not to move forward with proposed parking regulations that would limit street parking from Nov. 1 to Apr. 1 from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Council took public comment on the proposed ordinance during the regular city council meeting on Monday.

Jeff Hanson was the only citizen who came forward to share his opinion. He said that he believes the new parking rules would affect too many people negatively.

“I just don’t think this is going to benefit our community, and it’s going to chase people away,” he said.

In general, the city council members agreed with Hanson.

 “My children live out of state, I have my mom living with me. We can’t all fit on my driveway,” said council member Renee LeMieux. “I just am not in favor of it.”

 Council members Paul Chard and Cary Coop said they would like to see stricter enforcement of the current regulations.

“I think we should be vigorously enforcing the existing ordinance. But I also think we should be looking at this one and not kill it and never look back,” said Coop.

 Under the current ordinance, parking on residential streets is not allowed when snow has accumulated to a depth of one-half inch or more.

For now, only the current winter parking regulations will be enforced. The council may revisit the proposed regulations in the future.

 Structure Request

The city council also held a public hearing on Trace and Shea Selly’s request to build a shed approximately 10 feet from the break in the slope on their property

. Current city code requires structures to be set back a minimum of 30 feet from the top or toe of a bluff. The rule is intended as environmental protection for the bluffs and ravines.

 “My wife and I certainly respect the need for such ordinances,” said Trace Selly during the public comment period.

If the shed were to be approved, the homeowners would be required to take several precautions to limit the environmental impact. Selly said he is hoping for leniency based on those regulations and the shape of his family’s lot. Placing a shed of this nature in a different spot on his property would either block access to his backyard or an existing fire pit.

“We have four children and are constantly chasing after kids and picking up behind them. We are hoping to use the structure as a shed for keeping our place tidy and keeping our neighbors happy,” he said.

Councilman Coop expressed concern about allowing this variance, wondering what type of policy this sets for the future. City Attorney Robert Vose said that as long as council believes this situation is unique in some way that justifies the variance, the council would not be setting a precedent.

Ultimately, the city council ended up approving the variance 4 to 1, with Councilman Coop opposing the resolution.

 Replacement Truck Purchase

City council approved the purchase of a replacement truck for the public works department. The truck costs just over $33,300.

B. P. Fire Dept. Appointees

 The council authorized three members of the Belle Plaine Fire Department to be appointed to another term. The term of the Fire Chief I position and two Lieutenant positions will end on December 31, 2020. All three current officers have applied for reappointment, and no additional candidates have applied for these positions.

The Public Safety Committee along with Fire Department representatives interviewed the current candidates. On Monday, the council approved the appointment of Steve Otto to continue as Fire Chief 1 through Dec. 31, 2023. Christopher Herrmann and Anthony Olson will continue serving as Lieutenants through Dec. 31, 2022.

Looking Ahead

The next city council meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m.

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