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City's shopping district, emergency radios on council agenda for Monday

Among the items included on tonight’s Worthington City Council agenda is a discussion of the community’s retail shopping overlay district.

According to city code, the overlay district is intended to preserve the concentration of retail shopping activities at ground level along 10th Street from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue. City code states that only one retail shopping overlay district shall be allowed, but council may consider making a change on this front.’

At the March 1 Worthington Planning Commission meeting, a discussion took place as to whether the current overlay district was still necessary. A general consensus found the district is unnecessary and that it should be removed, and city staff agrees, as permitted uses downtown could be better addressed through the “B-2” zoning district. In a staff memo included in Monday’s meeting agenda packet, it’s stated that if certain land uses are not suitable for the downtown area, they should be addressed through the zoning district rather than a separate overlay district.

Should council agree with Planning Commissioners and city staff, a change to city code would subsequently need to be drafted and put through required readings.

Another item listed as part of Monday’s city council meeting agenda involves a memorandum of understanding for Fiscal Year 2022 assistance to the Firefighters Regional Grant Program.

Regional fire departments, including Worthington’s, have discussed emergency radios at length the last few months, according to a staff memo to council members. Most of the area departments use EFJohnson Brand Radios, but those have become obsolete for the State ARMER radio system. There are no longer updates for the software, nor are replacement parts being made for these radios. The battery life on these radios drain quickly and no longer hold an adequate charge to make it through a fire call.

New radios could cost up to $4,500 per radio, but the regional grant program can help offset the cost of the radios – though a 5% match is required. The cities of Adrian, Bigelow, Brewster, Ellsworth, Lismore, Round Lake, Rushmore, Wilmont, and Worthington have been identified as eligible jurisdictions able to collectively implement the objectives and goals of the AFG grant program.

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