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Afton City Council briefs June 18

License fee lowered for chickens

Anyone who wishes to own chickens on less than five acres can now save a little a money.

Afton City Council approved the lowering of the lifetime license fee from $50 to $20.

The ordinance also increases the threshold from “more than three chickens” to “more than five chickens” for the requirement of a 25 foot setback for a chicken coop and run.

“If you have them for 10 years $50 is not that much,” Council Member Randy Nelson said, “but, if you have them for six months it’s a lot.”

Council Member Bill Palmquist proposed the change.

Palmquist has said previously that he wanted to have the fee lowered to address 4-H students who only have a couple chickens.

Afton Planning Commission held a public hearing on the ordinance amendment at its June 3 meeting.

Commissioner Kris Kopitzke, serving as chairman during the meeting, cast the only “no” vote.

“It’s just little tweakings of the ordinance,” he said. “On principle, I don’t like to see us doing this constantly. Just leave well enough alone.”

Easements a focus in Afton

Afton CIty Council discussed how to proceed with city discussions related to conservation easements during its June 18 meeting.

City Council raised the topic of easements as a way of preserving open space and controlling its density.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values, such as open space, habitat, vegetation and scenic views.

Currently Afton has one major conservation easement located at the Cedar Bluff Homestead, a clustered housing development.

The topic of easements was discussed earlier this month by Afton Planning Commission.

Commissioner Kris Kopitzke informed City Council during last week’s meeting that Planning Commission intends to meet with the executive director of Belwin Conservancy at its July meeting in order to better understand how easements are managed.

“I’m all for listening to someone who has been administering conservation easements,” Commissioner Dick Bend said during the June 3 Planning Commission meeting.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, Council Member Randy Nelson suggested the Minnesota Land Trust be included in the discussions since it is the primary entity the city would work with on easements.

Kopitzke also informed City Council that Planning Commission hopes to meet with the Parks Committee to discuss the Park Plan in order to identify the areas where conservation easements would be desired.

Paving repair project approved

Afton City Council approved a road paving project during its June 18 meeting.

The project, at the intersection of Trading Post Trail and Odell Avenue, would replace blacktop and re-establish a roadway crown in order to address stormwater running along the center of the road creating potholes and deterioration.

Hardrives Inc. will complete the project for a cost not to exceed $7,500.

Culvert replacement approved

Afton City Council approved a culvert replacement project during its June 18 project.

The project will consist of two new metal culverts being added within an existing box culvert on the Trading Post Trail Bridge.

Tri County will complete the project at a cost not to exceed $14,000.

Cedar Bluff trail discussed Afton City Council discussed a proposed trail to be included at the Cedar Bluff Homestead site during its June 18 meeting.

Cedar Bluff, a clustered housing development located off of Manning Avenue and 22nd Street, is to include a public trail through the development.

City Council discussed what type of trail, and where to locate it, during last week’s meeting.

The council recommended having a mowed trail, as a opposed to a wood chip trail.

“The wood chips initially are great, but they rot,” Council Member Randy Nelson said. “The sod holds up a lot better and it’s defined.”

City Council is recommending the trail run along both Manning Avenue and 22nd Street.

Setbacks discussed for Cedar Bluff

Afton City Council discussed how to address setbacks for the Cedar Bluff Homestead development during its June 18 meeting.

Since the development is located in the agricultural district, the required setbacks are 105 feet from the front lot line, 50 feet from the back lot line and 50 feet from the side lot line.

However, since the lots are less than three acres, as opposed to the required five acres, Afton staff questioned City Council whether these are appropriate.

“If you’re going to have some flexibility about these setbacks, I guess you would have to change the code,” City Administrator Ron Moorse said.

Rather than change the City Code, council members said they would first be interested in knowing how many of the lots would not be able to meet the setback requirements and then grant variances on a case-by-case basis.

“I don’t know where this is going to ripple if we change the code,” Council Member Peg Nolz said.

City to waive fee for nonprofit organizations

Afton City Council approved a temporary liquor license for the Afton Historical Museum’s annual Afton Fest event during its June 18 meeting.

In addition to approving the license, City Council also waived the license and park rental fees for the museum given that it is a nonprofit organization.

However, the council agreed to still require the $200 damage deposit.

Later on in the meeting, City Council approved a change to city code to permanently waive park reservation fees for the city’s local nonprofits, specifically the Afton Historical Museum and the Afton Area Business Association.

The $200 deposit fee will still be required.

In terms of outside nonprofits, or other local nonprofits, City Council said it would evaluate the waiver requests on a case-by-case basis.

One such request, for a Miracle Kids fundraiser occurring on July 25, was approved during the meeting.

Letter of Agreement between Washington County approved

Afton City Council approved a letter of agreement between the city, Washington County and the city’s engineering firm, WSB & Associates, Inc., in order to allow the firm to be the city’s license consultant of the Digital Parcel Map Data Base in order to develop city maps.

A fee of $100 will be charged for the use of the digital data.

City garage lights approved

Afton CIty Council approved the installation of four new lights for the city garage, during its June 18 meeting.

Currently the city garage lights do not work.

City Administrator Ron Moorse said the lights are needed for security purposes since the garage has been broken into recently.

The total cost of lights will not exceed $1,950.

-Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976