A considerable amount of the Fergus Falls City Council’s time Monday evening was spent discussing trees.

Several council members expressed their support of a move by Carleton Companies to build a salvage and recycling business north of Weyrens Road. The farmland was purchased by the Fergus Falls Port Authority in 2005.

One of the original conditions - planting a double row of coniferous trees or putting up a fence on the south end of the 40-acre property - was removed by the planning commission before it was sent on to the City Council.

Council member Jim Fish said he would not vote for the conditional-use permit (CUP) if the tree condition was excluded.

Business owner Ben Carleton did not see the need for the treeline barrier. He pointed out that the yard would be built on the northern 20 acres of the site and would be more than 1,000 feet from any homeowners.

‘That’s more than three football fields,” Carleton said.

The planning commission’s original recommendations for the CUP required abiding by all local, state and federal laws, the hours of operation and no expansion to the southern portion of the property without amending the CUP.

Council member Scott Kvamme, who expressed his support for the business venture, proposed an amendment putting the planning commission’s fourth recommendation back in the CUP to see how members of the council would vote. After a frank discussion on the pros and cons of requiring the trees on the southern boundary of the property the council ultimately voted not to require the trees. 

“As the activity is going to be taken in the northern section of this property then planting trees at this point in time would be kind of futile,” council member Anthony Hicks said. “If we are going to set a precedent tonight by saying any industrial facility has to be surrounded by trees then that is exactly what we are doing. Anything we would do in the future we would have to do something similar.”

The council followed that vote by approving a resolution in favor of a CUP for the yard based on three of the planning commission’s four original conditions.

Following approval of the CUP, the council approved a resolution initiating Public Improvement 5336 as recommended by city engineer, Brian Yavarow. The resolution calls for an extension of Weyrens Road. It also approves and authorizes staff to execute the developer agreement for the installation of a city street. The gravel street will be constructed at a cost of $40,000 to the buyer.

The council approved five separate labor agreements at the request of HR director Mike Hartwell. These included the LELS labor group, the sergeants labor group, the supervisors and professional labor group, the non-union employees and the Teamsters.

Among the items approved in the consent agenda vote were:

• A resolution setting an IRF hearing for Rivers Edge Development LLC for a Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

• A resolution approving the 2021 rates for Pebble Lake Golf Course.

• A resolution approving and authorizing city staff to submit the Hoot Lake Environmental Assessment Worksheet to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board Monitor and to set the EAW public hearing date for Dec. 8.

• A resolution approving delinquent tax assessments.

• A resolution approving the 2021 Transportation Services Agreement with Productive Alternatives.

• A resolution appointing members to the Charter Commission.

• A resolution declaring items as surplus and authorizing their disposal.


FF Port Authority approves redraft of Lakeland extension

The Fergus Falls Port Authority (FFPA) approved a recommendation by finance director Bill Sonmor Monday night to redraft a five-year extension of the option to purchase agreement with the state of Minnesota for use of the Lakeland Mental Health Center.

The redrafted extension will give the state the right of first refusal. That right would kick in if the city decided to sell the facility.

Sonmor was requesting the FFPA to extend the option to purchase agreement, direct city attorney Rolf Nycklmoe to draft the extension and execute the document.

The FFPA also held a public hearing for a land sale and heard an update on the old Mid-Am Dairy site.

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