In council member Laura Backes’ report back from her first planning and zoning meeting, she brought up three ordinance changes the committee recommended.

The Osakis City Council only agreed to approve one at its Monday, Feb. 8, meeting.

The council approved adding details to an ordinance about meat lockers to allow the conditional use of on-site slaughter in an industrial-zoned property.

The second proposed change involved allowing land and sea containers as well as semi-tractor containers in three different city zones as long as they would be located on lots larger than 1 acre. Additional points also clarified that all containers and trailers should be painted to match the primary structure on the lot.

In the planning and zoning meeting minutes, Justin Dahlheimer said that this change would be a proactive measure so that specific guides would be in place if a community member were to bring it into question.

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Backes said she trusted the recommendation of those who discussed the changes in depth, but council member Alan Larson wanted additional background information about these changes before agreeing to them. The council agreed to table this ordinance change for a future meeting.

The third ordinance adjustment under consideration related to having animals in town -- more specifically, chickens.

Chickens are currently allowed with a city permit. The planning and zoning committee questioned whether chickens should be required to be kept in cages.

Police Chief Chad Gulbranson said he hasn’t received a single call involving this type of complaint, so the council decided they would wait to move forward on the change.

Liquor license fees excused

Osakis Liquor Store manager Reenie Goodwin and City Clerk Angela Jacobson are working on a Todd County business assistance grant application, with multiple grants to be distributed to businesses affected by the most recent COVID-19 shutdown. The liquor store lost $10,178.78 last month.

The council approved city liquor licenses at the January meeting but allowed extra time for those who couldn’t pay right away. Upon revisiting this topic, the council approved the decision to give local establishments a full liquor license fee refund for 2021.

“That’s the least we can do,” council member Randy Anderson said. “I don’t think it’s gonna break the city.”

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

Osakis Emergency Medical Responders’ new president, Jason Schultz, requested that the council proclaim this week of Sunday, Feb. 7, through Sunday, Feb. 14, as Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.

His letter outlined his family’s personal connection to this week. Schultz said it’s posted publicly on the state’s website but expressed he would like the mayor to recognize it on the city level.

Wessel read an excerpt from the example included in Schultz’ letter and thanked him for bringing it to the council’s attention.

City to citizen communication

Resident Moli Swenstad sent in a letter regarding input on city communication, which was a common concern raised during the public comment period at the January council meeting.

She included a list of ideas, such as starting a weekly blog and increasing the city’s social media presence.

“I truly believe I can help bridge the communication gap between the city and the residents of Osakis,” Swenstad wrote. “Let’s work together and get Osakis back on the map, let’s help these businesses that were affected by COVID-19, let’s get this information to the people!”

Wessel said that the council should take a closer look at which of Swenstad’s points to implement, as increasing the city’s transparency would likely alleviate many of the miscommunication issues.

Jacobson noted that the city is in the process of updating the website to be more user friendly.

Other items

  • Former Osakis Emergency Medical Responders President Mark Grinstead submitted a letter of resignation from his full-time position as an Osakis police officer as of March 1. He wrote that he would continue assisting part time until his current DARE classes are completed in May. Gulbranson said he’d like to interview current part-time officers for the position before opening it up to the public.

  • Since Ray Euerle gave the Osakis Fire Department his retirement notice effective June 30, Fire Chief Craig Dropik said the department will be looking for applicants to fill his place in the coming months.

  • Wessel wanted to discuss details for the city’s 2021 clean-up efforts. Although this has typically been designated as a one-day event, he suggested making it a two-week initiative at the start of spring. “It’s pretty simple stuff, but let’s make Osakis look good again,” Wessel said.