A new fencing ordinance was passed for Detroit Lakes, which includes an approved materials list and maintenance provisions, during a regular meeting of the city council on Tuesday.
In a tight 4-3 vote, council members approved the second reading and adoption of the new ordinance on July 13. The new fencing rules have appeared before the planning commission, community development committee and full city council multiple times in recent months.
"Either we're going to toe-the-line (with the new rules) or we're going to give variances," said Dan Josephson, alderman third ward and chair of the city's Community Development Committee. "I don't think we solved much of anything."
Council members voting for the new ordinance were: Ron Zeman, Jamie Marks Erickson, Wendy Spry and Madalyn Sukke.
Voting against the new rules were members: Natalie Bly, Dan Josephson and Matt Boeke.
Council members Aaron Dallman, alderman-at-large, and Dan Wenner, alderman first ward, were absent from the meeting and did not cast votes.
"I think the ordinance has come up because people are asking questions where problems are arising and they asked staff to clarify some of the items that are coming up," said Jamie Marks Erickson. "They've done hours, and hours, and hours, and hours of work in trying to clarify these things."
Changes were made to the ordinance since the April version of the new rules. Now, fences may be constructed with used materials if they are approved by a city building official. Also, fences that are painted or stained must be "uniformly" painted or stained on both sides of the fence. The new ordinance also allows garden fencing as long as they are not constructed with barbed wire or are electrified.
"We did get to a point where we cleaned up a lot of the issues, but then we started tacking on other things that seem to be overbearing on painting both sides of fences, and materials, and arbitrary bits and pieces of what is, and isn't, allowed," said Dan Josephson, alderman third ward. "So that's where it kind of fell off the table for me."
Under the new ordinance, fences may be constructed with: stone, brick, wood, vinyl, metal, or chain link. Prohibited materials include: any agricultural fencing materials, electrically charged elements, barbed wire, cables, wire, or used materials unless approved by the building official.
Questions raised about street dining at Roasted
Also during the meeting, members heard from Barbara Steger, owner of Barbara Hair and Body Care on Washington Avenue, who expressed her concerns for the loss of parking and potential safety hazard created near the roadway due to a temporary expansion permit for Roasted Pub and Eatery, which allows the restaurant to hold dine-in service in front of the building near the street.
"We only have the front entrance. We do not have a back door," said Steger. "So, by losing three parking spots right in front of our business, it has really affected our clientele. We've got quite a few elderly ladies and gentlemen that come and go, so the fact that three parking spots have been used for Roasted has really affected our business."
Ron Zeman, alderman first ward, said he's also heard from a number of other businesses on Washington Avenue about the parking situation in front of Roasted with the expanded seating sitting empty outside of peak dining times.
"I've gotten over 141 names of my own clients … have said that this has been a hinderance for them," she said. "I'm here just hoping that someone can maybe explain it, or maybe it can be removed sooner than was expected just due to the fact that it really is affecting so many people."
Temporary expansion permits were also issued to other restaurants in the city this spring when businesses were trying to find ways to serve customers with limited indoor capacity requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council members did not act on Steger's complaint Tuesday, but may revisit the issue in the future.
New DL firefighters sworn in
Mayor Matt Brenk started the council meeting by swearing in two new members of the Detroit Lakes Fire Department.
Levi Englund and Andrew Lundberg took their oaths and joined the volunteer firefighting service ranks. Both expressed excitement about getting started after the ceremony.
Englund said he knows there is a lot of learned experience in the fire department and he's ready to "watch and learn."
There will be a special meeting of the city council in council chambers on July 27, 2021 at 4 p.m. to award bids for the Willow Street, Holmes Street and Frazee Street utility reconstruction project.
Council members also invited citizens to attend the 2022 budget committee meetings beginning Aug. 5, 2021 at 7 a.m.
The next regular meeting of the city council will be Aug. 10, 2021.