After a public hearing with no citizen comments, the Worthington City Council on Monday night passed the first reading of a proposed amendment to the city’s charter that enables the approval of written zoning-related requests within the 60-day period mandated by the state.
The city’s charter now requires that the city council approve at least three ordinance readings over successive meetings to advance such requests. The result is a best-case scenario in which the fastest amount of time in which an ordinance could be approved by the city council — due to multiple factors — is 64 days, which exceeds the state requirement by four days.
On Monday, council members discussed if the city charter should be amended to having either a one-reading or two-reading requirement. Jason Brisson, the city’s assistant city administrator and director of economic development, explained that based on both staff and legal recommendation, one reading was best, and he added that an extension period is possible should questions arise during that reading.
The first reading of the proposed amendment passed unanimously.
Also Monday, the council acted unanimously to vacate a 60-foot easement along the south building line of the former Shopko building that had been established to prevent any buildings from being constructed in violation of the state building code.
Brisson noted that city staff have been approached by a developer who is interested in purchasing the former Shopko site and redeveloping the property to construct and operate a new location for their business. The developer is under contact with the property’s broker and discovered the existing easement during their title search. To simplify the sale process, the developer asked if the city would be willing to vacate the easement agreement.
The council also approved the first of three required readings of a text amendment that would create a new “R-8” residential zoning district intended to “encourage the remodeling an enhancement of the older residential sections of the community” as well as text amendments to provide density, area, bulk and schedule-of-use regulations for the proposed new residential district.
The Worthington Planning Commission voted unanimously during its Aug. 3 meeting to recommend the city council approve the proposed amendment. Include in the language of the text amendment is verbiage stating that if a lot’s width is less than 80 feet, then the property owner shall comply with the 10-foot minimum side yard, or the following minimum side yard — the combined minimum side yard shall be no less than 20% of the lot width. In no event may any side yard have a width of less than 5 feet.
The city council meeting began Monday with Mayor Mike Kuhle paying tribute to Bob Demuth Sr., the former Worthington mayor who died Saturday at age 94. Kuhle cited the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System project as Demuth’s biggest accomplishment.
“Bob made countless tripes to St. Paul and Washington. D.C. on behalf of Lewis & Clark,” Kuhle said.
Kuhle also noted that Demuth served on the board and as president of the League of Minnesota Cities, representing Worthington well locally and at the state level. He also benefited Worthington greatly through his significant involvement in the Worthington-Crailsheim sister city partnership.
“Bob was always willing to lend an ear to anyone who needed his help,” Kuhle stated. “He was a great mentor to me and a wealth of knowledge about the history of Worthington. Bob was the ultimate gentleman. He cared for and loved Worthington until his passing this past weekend.”
At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson introduced two new staff members in the engineering department. One is a familiar face, as recently retired Nobles County Director of Public Works Stephen Schnieder is now the city’s director of engineering and public works. Schneider noted that he just completed his fourth day on the job, and Kuhle expressed gratitude for the experience and knowledge Schnieder brings to the position.
Also introduced was Hyunmyeong Goo, who has been hired as assistant city engineer. Goo is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota Christian High School in Edgerton and Dordt College.
“I’m really glad to be here and am looking forward to learning everything I need to learn,” he said.