City council revisits food truck ordinance, considers pool change

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on  Monday, Sept. 10, again discussed an ordinance concerning mobile food vendors, heard a design change request for the new pool bathhouse, and approved a raise for the city manager.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Jane Parker, Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub, and Austin Greve through the evening’s agenda; councilmember Mick Pierce was absent. Also on hand were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Pool project

Katie Simon addressed the council to suggest that the new pool bathhouse have a family changing room that can be used by patrons of either gender who have caregivers. Members of the Wave of the Future pool committee were on hand and asked the council to approve a design change so that a family changing room can be added. The council approved investigating the cost of the request.

In a related matter, council approved resolutions pertaining to the sale of the pool bonds, the levying of taxes to pay for the bonds, and the contracts to build the pool. The city manager reported that the bonds had been sold that day and that local banks purchased them all.

Mobile food vendors

The council resumed discussion from previous meetings about the city ordinance governing mobile food vendors. Councilmember Jane Parker read a letter from highway business owner Sue Rausch opposing mobile food vendors. Downtown business owners Sara Pattison and Mike Hefel were again on hand to propose that the current ordinance, which allows for "transient merchants," be changed to prohibit or restrict food trucks.

City Attorney Schuster noted, "I have done some research, and it is an issue across the country. My conclusion is that you can't prohibit a business in order to protect existing businesses, because it is not an appropriate governmental function . . .  My advice is to try to stay within constitutional law." He noted that mobile vendors could be regulated through "significant" fees and by imposing restrictions. 

The city manager said the current ordinance needs to differentiate between transient merchants and mobile vendors. She noted that currently a weekend ice cream truck that has set up on private property is operating under a permit within the current ordinance.

  It was the council's consensus that any ordinance change also needs to address mobile food vendors at community or civic events, such as GermanFest or Stars and Stripes Day. 

Mayor Frommelt summed up the issue facing the council, "On one hand we want to generate activity by bringing in other vendors, but on the other hand we don't want to run our businesses out of town."

After lengthy discussion, the council decided to move forward on an ordinance change that would provide for significant fees for mobile food vendors and would include other restrictions, such as requiring them to be on private property, be licensed and have the approval of the police department. The city maanger and city attorney will draw up an ordinance change, with further council input, for consideration at the next meeting. 

City manager raise

The council approved a 3% raise for City Manager pursuant to her one-year anniversary review. "I think she's done an exceptional job," the mayor said in recommending the increase. The raise brings her annual salary to $66,187.

Other business

Following a recommendation from the city zoning board, the council approved an addition to the zoning ordinance that establishes a bluff protection area. No public comments were received prior to consideration. Mayor Frommelt explained that the purpose was to regulate blufftop development in order to protect property at the foot the bluff. 

The council moved forward on disposing of city-owned property, following up on discussion at previous meetings about requests from Twin Tower Services, Doug and Cindy Davey and Ken Deutmeyer.

New holiday lights will be ordered for city light poles to  replace the current deteriorating lights, some of which are 20 years old. The new lights will contain energy-efficient LED bulbs. Councilmember Saeugling will choose the new designs.

The council okayed a change in the marina refund policy that would allow late cancellations the option of rescheduling rather than forfeiting the reservation fee. 

Sewer line repairs in the south end of the city were approved and are expected to be started this fall.

The council approved participation in a partnership with the Clayton County Energy District and Green Iowa Americorps in a program that will offer renters LED bulbs and water aerators to boost energy savings. The city will pay part of the cost to install  those items for up to 50 rental units in Guttenberg. 

The City Attorney will proceed with action to collect a fine for a tobacco sales violation at Dollar General. 

The council authorized a change in the policy for adjustments on utility bills when customers have a water leak. The city manager recommended that the policy be changed to offset the sewer expense incurred by the city when customers have leaking toilets, floor drains, etc.

The council approved a policy for the new police chaplain program. 

Michelle Eilers was appointed to the city recreation board and Laura Manson to the riverfront advisory board.

Jordan Davis was approved as a member of the fire department.

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