Blue Earth debates garage siding ordinance

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth has no ordinance governing garage siding – yet.

The City Council voted Monday to send a draft ordinance back to committee for more research. The measure had been up for a vote, but Mayor Rick Scholtes objected.

The ordinance states that all private garages are required to have siding of face brick, painted or stained wood, natural stone, vinyl or steel siding, or stucco.

“What is the purpose of this ordinance?” Scholtes asked.

“The purpose of the ordinance relates back to discussions on tin-siding and quonset-siding,” said City Administrator Kathy Bailey.

Scholtes said the draft allows everything, and he wanted to know who would make the final decision if people object. He added that some garages in town look terrible for reasons other than their siding.

“Why are you against this?” asked Councilman Russ Erichsrud. “We need an ordinance.”

“Do we?” Scholtes challenged. “We have state codes.

“My feeling is we’re just putting too much regulation on what people can and cannot have,” he added.

“We’re trying to improve aesthetics,” said Councilman Dan Brod.

“And improve property values,” added City Attorney David Frundt, noting that building codes address places where siding is coming off.

Brod said that without an ordinance creating standards, Bailey has no way of forbiding any whim a resident might dream up.

Scholtes wanted to know what would happen if a resident didn’t like Bailey’s decision. She said they could appeal it.

“I think you’re reading way too much into this,” Councilman Glenn Gaylord told Scholtes.

“This is pretty vague,” Scholtes noted.

Brod said the ordinance can be made more specific, such as specifying that siding be horizontal, not ribbed to make it look like a quonset.

“I think [the draft is moving] in the right direction, we just need to fine-tune it,” Scholtes said.

Moving on to another topic, the council approved playground equipment for the 14th Street park and Putnam Park.

Public Works director Jamie Holland reported to the parks and recreation subcommittee in February that Putnam’s merry-go-round is aging and the wooden playground equipment is in poor condition. Bailey added Monday that pipes on the 14th Street equipment are splitting laterally and beginning to collapse. Equipment at both locations will be removed this spring.

Bailey presented two sets of equipment, one for each park, that the Park Board recommended.

The piece for 14th Street has two slides, a couple of climbing features and a 4-foot deck. It is appropriate for younger children. The one chosen for Putnam Park has three slides, four climbing features, a bumper ladder, a wall with wheel, three decks and is appropriate for younger and older children.

It was recommended to get colored rubber mulch spread beneath the equipment to cushion falls.

The total cost for all the equipment will be $53,000, according to Bailey.

Holland said new equipment sets will fit into the areas where the old sets were located.

On another park matter, the council set a $50 fee for reserving park shelters at Putnam and Steinberg parks.

There has been a $20 fee, and the council was asked to raise it to $100 to cover the expense of damage and trash cleanup. Scholtes was afraid if the city charges too much, people will go other places.

“A hundred dollars for a small family group is too much,” said Huisman, amending the motion to make the fee $50.

“Jumping from $20 to $50 is reasonable,” he added.

“I agree with that,” Gaylord said.