Council moves forward on food truck ordinance, tables property ordinance

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council in its first meeting of the new year approved the second reading of a mobile food truck ordinance, heard resident concerns about a proposed ordinance that would address building and property maintenance, and approved renovation work on the municipal building auditorium floor.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling and Jane Parker through the 18-item agenda. Also present at the council table were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Mobile food vendor ordinance

At the December meeting, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance governing mobile food vendors, a topic that has been debated at length at numerous meetings the past year.

The proposed ordinance lists application procedures and designates that licensed food trucks may be parked on public property or on a public street on a non-residential side. It forbids food trucks to park within 100-ft. of an establishment that sells food or beverages without approval from the establishment owner. (View the entire ordinance on the city’s website by clicking on the meetings and agenda tab.)

At Monday night’s meeting, discussion continued prior to the council vote on the second reading. Council member Saeugling noted that the ordinance allows food trucks to operate until 10:30 p.m., but that the park closes at 10 p.m. Business owner Mike Hefel questioned whether food trucks would be allowed to operate at the north and south marinas, saying that many people park at the south marina and walk to the downtown business district. “That would be a very big detriment to businesses downtown,” he said. “People will hit the food truck and not the businesses.”

After discussion, the council approved the second reading of the ordinance with two changes: excluding the marinas and changing the closing time to 10 a.m.

The ordinance will not take effect until the council approves a third and final reading at the regular monthly meeting in February.  Fees will be set by resolution following final approval of the ordinance. Nancy Dlouhy spoke to the council and said she thought the proposed fees were more in line with the actual daily operation fees of brick and mortar businesses such as hers. 

Unsightly properties

The first reading of an ordinance that addresses  unsightly properties was approved at the council’s December meeting, and the council heard concerns at Monday night’s meeting as they considered approval of the second reading. Resident Ray Horstman questioned if he would be in violation of the proposed ordinance for parking a boat and camper in his yard during the summer months, explaining that the configuration of his property and power lines limit his parking options.  The city manager said the ordinance allows for exceptions upon approval of written requests. Adam Sadewasser raised two issues — he said that he stores lawn equipment under his deck and also uses an adjacent lot for business storage in the off-season. Council member Schaub noted that the city should look at issues with its own storage lots. After lengthy discussion, the council’s consensus was to table the proposed ordinance for further review, and to refer Sadewasser’s business storage question to planning and zoning board. 

Auditorium floor

City officials have been studying the problem of the buckling parquet flooring on the third floor auditorium, and have decided that the best option is total replacement. Bids were solicited and the council accepted the low bid of $19,650 from Floor Show Companies of Dubuque, plus an additional $4,141 for top coating. The company will remove the existing floor and install new commercial grade LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) with the look of wood. 

Other business

The council approved the contract for the new full-time library director, Kathryn Beitzel. Her starting salary is $31,500 per year plus benefits.

Rachelle Howe of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission spoke to the council and received the okay to submit a Community Development Block Grant application. If the application is successful, the grant will be used to rehabilitate owner-occupied housing.

The council okayed an increase in monthly garbage collection fees, setting the cost at $18.50 per household, with a 50-cent discount for senior citizens. 

Latham, Ervin and Associates, Inc. of Cedar Rapids was hired to conduct an electric rate study for the city.

The council concurred with the recommendation from the Riverfront Advisory Board that lease rates remain the same as last year at $8 per foot. 

Following up on offers accepted at the December council meeting, the council vacated and sold a portions of an alley to Gary Stirn of Twin Towers, Inc. and to Doug and Cindy Davey. 

The annual appointments of City Attorney Michael Schuster, Assistant City Attorney James Garrett, and Fire Chief Jim Cunningham were approved. Mayor Bill Frommelt was appointed tot he emergency management commission.

The council okayed pay requests from Portzen Construciton for approximately $413,000 for work on the new swimming pool.

Approval was given to a liquor license for Moonshine Real Estate, the new owners of the Dam Bar, and the council also approved an amended version of the building’s lease of city-owned property.

Junior firefighter Tristan Meyers was approved as a full volunteer. Wyatt Errthum was approved as a full-time assistant in the electrical department, and Ray Handke Jr. as part-time building custodian. 

The council began work on the budget for the coming fiscal year at a special meeting set for Jan. 21. 

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