City council grants requests A-Z

Grand Marais city councilors approved a number of varied requests at their April 10, 2013 meeting, ranging from A (air conditioning) to Z (zip line).
First on the list was a request for a letter of support from the Cook County Historical Society to the Minnesota Historical Society backing the local agency’s pursuit of a grant to purchase and stabilize the Bally Blacksmith Shop in Grand Marais. Hal Greenwood of the Historical Society was in attendance to present the letter from museum director Carrie McHugh, and council gave its support.
Bev Wolke of the local Chamber of Commerce appeared next with a request for a permit to hold the annual car show on Wisconsin Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 15; Wisconsin Street will be closed beginning at 7 a.m. Wolke said the event will be the same as last year’s and include music in the park and a Girl Scout booth. The permit was approved.
Sally Nankivell of the Cook County Visitors Bureau made the next request, for installation of an air conditioner for the Visitor Information Center on Broadway, adjacent to City Hall. The Visitors Bureau leases the space from the city, which owns the building. Nankivell said the office seems to be getting hotter and hotter every summer, and presents an uncomfortable environment for both visitors and employees. Council approved the request, with an estimated price tag of about $500. Kim Linnell has inspected the building and researched what type of equipment is needed (a free-standing unit with a window vent).
The American Legion was granted a request for a Club On-Sale Sunday Liquor License, effective immediately. Laura Powell-Marxen made the request, stating that it would be a re-instatement of the Legion’s prior license.
Turning to planning commission matters, council granted a request to Bruce and Pam Block of Sydney’s Frozen Custard allowing them to construct an addition to the building on South Broadway within the 40-foot setback from the Lake Superior vegetation line. Block said the addition is necessary in order to add indoor seating in compliance with their new beer and wine license.
A variance and conditional use permit were both granted to Matt Geretschlaeger of Superior Ziplines LLC, paving the way for construction of a zipline on a 22-acre site purchased from the city last year on the Gunflint Trail near the water tower. Both actions were approved a week earlier by the planning commission, and councilors had no questions or requests for more information from Geretschlaeger, who said he was prepared to make a presentation if need be. “This is the reason we sold Matt this land to begin with,” said Mayor Larry Carlson.
Geretschlaeger did give a copy of the recently completed stormwater runoff and management plan to council, as required by the planning commission. City Administrator Mike Roth explained that because the city has no expertise to determine if the stormwater plan is adequate, the conditional use permit can be revoked or used to spur action if there is a problem.
Geretschlaeger assured council that would not be necessary. “I am ultimately responsible for what happens up there,” the developer said. “Rest assured that the MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] is watching over me, and things will be done right.”
On a related note, council gave permission to Jason Hill Excavating to store rock in the area of the old brush pile at the water tower site for about three weeks while the zipline is under construction. The rock is that which will be blasted from the zipline site, and then returned as fill for the road access. Geretschlaeger said the brush pile site will be graded and restored to a better condition than it is now upon completion of the blast rock storage.
Finally, council voted to contribute $15,000 as a match for the “Active Living For All” grant being prepared by the Active Living Steering Committee and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. Council approved a letter of commitment for the grant at its prior meeting, and Roth said a financial commitment by the city may help leverage additional funds for related priorities such as Highway 61 improvements and planning, and will strengthen the grant application.
The fact is, said Roth, the city is going to have to do some of the work anyway, either using its own funds or by pursuing its own grant—both of which will have associated expenses—so any funding obtained through a successful Active Living grant application will help offset those costs. As an example, said Roth, the city engineer’s draft plan for Highway 61 planning is budgeted at $50,000.

The city council meeting scheduled for April 24 was cancelled because a quorum of the board was not available. The next city council meeting will be Wednesday, April 10.