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City suspends license of body piercing business: It violated state law

The Alexandria City Council is slapping the wrist of a local tattoo and body piercing business for violating state law.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the council unanimously voted to suspend the license of RM Tattoo and Body Piercing for five business days.

City Attorney John Lervick recommended the council take some kind of action after the business was convicted and fined $300 for body piercing a person younger than the age of 18 without parental consent.

The business, located at 112 6th Avenue West in Alexandria, is operating under a license it received from the city. No one from the business was at Tuesday's meeting.

The offense happened this past May, Lervick said.

Because the violation was a first-time offense, Lervick said the council should adopt a "nominal" penalty.

After first considering a 30-day suspension, council member Cindy Bigger made the motion to suspend the license for five days. "Hopefully the message will get across that you need to follow the rules and the law," she said.

The business has 10 days to appeal the city's action and request a hearing before the city council.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council:

•Did not take action on a proposal it approved at its last meeting that would have rescinded the city's ordinance regulating special use vehicles, including golf carts.

That means the moratorium on using golf carts on city streets remains in effect.

Tom Reif, an attorney representing Alexandria Golf Cars, asked the council to consider a golf cart friendly ordinance that he had prepared, which he said was consistent with state law.

"What's the harm in giving these golf carts a try?" Reif asked the council. "There are no facts to back up the claim that they're a danger."

He said he checked with the Department of Public Safety and could find only one recorded accident involving a golf cart on a public street.

Reif said that at least two Alexandria businesses use golf carts to access their properties, Douglas Machine and Juettner Motors, and they both support an ordinance that would allow golf carts on city streets.

Reif added that Harold Koep, owner of Alexandria Golf Cars, had collected 149 signatures from residents who also want the city to allow the golf carts.

Reif asked the council to not take action to rescind the special use ordinance and consider his ordinance instead.

A few minutes after Reif spoke, the council moved on to the agenda item of rescinding the special use ordinance.

When Mayor Dan Ness called for a motion, no one spoke so no action was taken.

•Applied for a $15,339 grant through the federal Help America Vote Act that would make it easier for people with disabilities to vote.

The money would be used to install automatic doors, improve signage or make other improvements at five polling places.

Automatic doors would be installed at Shalom Lutheran Church, First Congregational Church and Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Other polling places in line for improvements include City Hall and Calvary Lutheran Church, which would receive more visible "vote here" signs, polling place access symbols and soft-sided cases for transferring ballots and voting equipment.

The number of registered voters at those five polling places totals 6,514.

•Set the salaries for city council members and the mayor.

The salaries for 2010 will remain the same as 2009 - $7,635 for the mayor and $5,885 for the five council members.

•Approved the final assessments for the phase 3, part 1A and 1B waterline extension project in a newly annexed area of Alexandria Township.

The affected area encompasses 193 parcels of property near lakes Carlos, Darling, L'Homme Dieu and Henry.

The estimated cost of the project is $1,749,740. Assessments will cover $887,366; Alexandria Light and Power will pay for the oversized piping costs of $140,305 and the city will cover the rest, $722,069.

The second part of the project, to be done next year, will cost an estimated $2,575,473. It's expected to be covered through assessments of just over $1 million and the city's share of $1,485,713.

The normal cost sharing practice for water improvement projects is to charge 70 percent to the benefiting owners and have the city cover the other 30 percent. For this project, however, the city's share was increased to about 50 percent, which reduced the assessments.

For single-family residential properties and vacant, platted buildable lots, the assessment is $5,600.

Owners have the option to pay the assessment prior to certification or to spread it onto their property taxes over 10 years at an interest rate of 7 percent.

One resident, Art LeSuer of 1914 Green Lane, spoke at the public hearing before the assessments were approved. He questioned why the city was charging a 7 percent interest rate when the bond rate for the project was only about 4 percent.

Mayor Ness noted that the "city wasn't a bank" and told LeSuer he could apply for a lower loan rate at the financial institution of his choice. Ness added that the city was incurring other costs in the project that more than made up for the interest rate difference.

City Administrator Jim Taddei explained that the 7 percent rate is consistent with what the city has been charging for years.

LeSuer also wanted to know when the assessment is due. Taddei said it is payable on November 15.

•Approved a final reading of an ordinance to amend the city's code for outdoor storage, accessory buildings and shoreland rules.

This will allow the city to include Lake Andrew as a protected water - a step the city wanted to take because of large-scale development that is happening near the lake. Other lakes on the list include Darling, Henry, Geneva, L'Homme Dieu, Victoria, Winona and Carlos.

Another amendment clarifies when open and outdoor storage is allowed.

•Gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that more clearly defines the special assessment procedures for property owners connecting to the sanitary sewer system and city water in areas that are redeveloped.

If an owner wants to connect to an existing water or sewer line that's located in an area where there has been a special assessment made for sanitary sewer or water facilities in the past, there won't be a connection charge unless it is in a redevelopment area.

In non-residential redevelopment areas, connection charges would be required if the site requires a larger pipe size. The owner would be charged the difference.

In residential redevelopment areas, connection charges would be required if the site increases in density from the time the special assessments were made.

•Approved the assessments for a waterline extension project on Autumn Drive and Ridgewood Drive that were delayed because the properties were not yet in the city limits.

The assessments on the seven affected parcels were set at $3,450, the same amount that the ones inside the city limits were charged when the project was done in 2000.

Property owners have until November 15 to pay the assessment in full or they can spread it on their property taxes over 10 years at an interest rate of 7 percent.

•Hired ORB Management of Alexandria to provide a "facility diagnostics" study of the city hall and airport buildings.

A team of professional engineers and technicians will visit the facilities, meet with department managers and thoroughly study building and site conditions, including all mechanical systems, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, fire sprinkler systems, roof assembly and building structure.

The team will provide a written report of its findings, including recommendations, cost estimates of repairs and a cost/benefit analysis of energy efficiencies.

The cost of the study will be $7,405 for the city hall and $6,385 for the airport.

The city's airport commission supported the study, which will be paid for through the city's capital improvement funds.

Council member Owen Miller noted that the study should save money for the city by catching problems now instead of later.

•Approved an engineering services agreement for the city's 2010 municipal state aid street projects. Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates will do the work for $58,664.

The firm will provide services for four mill and overlay projects on the following streets - 3rd Avenue (Fillmore Street to County Road 22, a distance of 3,450 feet); 30th Avenue (Aga Drive to Highway 29, a distance of 1,152 feet); 30th Avenue (Highway 29 to South Broadway, a distance of 1,153 feet); and 34th Avenue (Highway 29 to South Broadway, a distance of 1,680 feet).

The total cost of all four projects is estimated at $384,577.

Mayor Ness noted that the city's increasing population and annexation growth help the city receive a higher amount of state aid for street projects.

•Approved the following licenses: charitable gambling - American Legion Post 87 to conduct bingo at the Alexandria VFW on November 13, Alexandria Elks Lodge 1685 to sell pull tabs at Pipeline Travel Plaza, Golden Brothers Lions Club to conduct bingo at the Alexandria VFW on February 11; excavating - Molitor Excavating, Inc. (new)

•Approved the Viking Speedway's request to reschedule races that were previously postponed by rain for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

•Was informed that the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities will hold its fall conference at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria on November 18-20.

•Scheduled an informal work session to discuss council-suggested topics on November 2 at City Hall at 6 p.m. One likely topic is the special use vehicle ordinance that regulates golf carts, Bigger said.

The meetings are open to the public.

Because it is not a regular meeting, the council can't take official action on any of the items under discussion.

•Reactivated the city's cultural competency committee, as requested by Mayor Ness.

The committee will work with local businesses on how to become more adept at dealing with prospective workers with different cultural backgrounds.