By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia City Council took on a full slate of business on Tuesday, November 12.

Following a public hearing on the matter, members voted to issue an interim use permit for Daniel Hanson to utilize residential property at 1107 E. Main for a home occupation.

“(It’s) mostly computer design,” Hanson said of his work, which often involves custom vinyl wraps for signage on vehicles. “Ninety percent of my installs are done on-site, so I really don’t foresee too many vehicles coming in and out...”

The council reviewed the criteria for issuing the permit in an R-2 urban residential district, then granted the IUP for a period of two years.

Another public hearing focused on some problems with Houston County. The council considered revoking an amended conditional use permit which required the addition of 27 off-site parking stalls for county offices at 611 Vista Drive, but took no action on the matter. That’s because Houston County Commissioner Bob Burns spoke on the subject, explaining that the new parking lot (with fresh gravel and signage) will be ready soon. 

“It will be ready to go after Friday (November 15)...” Burns stated. “It will be similar in appearance to the lot we had before.”

A third public hearing took up an application from AKG Enterprises for an on-sale intoxicating liquor license at 139 South Marshall Street. The new permit falls under the “restaurant” category, and, according to the application, the business will be called AJ’s Bar and Grill. The applicant did not appear at the hearing, but council members noted that all of the prerequisites for issuance were complete, including liability insurance, background check, and payment in full, and voted to approve the permit when the hearing ended and the regular session resumed.

City clerk/administrator Adam Swann reported that he had accepted the resignation of municipal liquor store manager Patty Gavin, and has already posted the job opening internally (for current employees) according to an existing labor contract. The position will be advertised publicly beginning on Tuesday, November 19 (with council consent), he added. Members agreed. A consent agenda vote also accepted the resignation   of Caledonia Police Department member William Persons. 

Staff also reported that a court order has now been granted which will allow the City of Caledonia to demolish a dilapidated vacant home at 916 E. Main. However, “It could be the first of the year before a backhoe would show up,” public works/zoning director Casey Klug said. 

The council also conducted an in-depth review of 2020 budgets for special revenue and enterprise funds (such as the Caledonia Library, EDA, Ambulance Department and Fire Department, as well as funds for water, sewer, electric, stormwater, and the municipal liquor store) but did not vote on the specifics which will appear on the final budget.   

A State of Minnesota required public hearing on the future of the municipal liquor store has been set for November 25 at 6 p.m. No Council members have expressed any desire to close the liquor store, however. 

Members voted in favor of a pair of resolutions. The first will assess unpaid utility and “special” (snow removal) charges on property tax bills. There were nine utility charges and  pair of snow removal bills included in that document.

The second resolution accepted (with thanks) a donation of $15,246 to the City of Caledonia from George F. Frisch in memory of Ann M. Frisch. Mr. Frisch requested that the funds be split four ways, equally divided between the Caledonia Library, Caledonia Ambulance Department, Caledonia Fire Department, and Caledonia Police Department. The council agreed to that distribution in the resolution. 

Finally, members went into closed session to discuss “active investigative data,” and “preliminary allegations against (a) city employee.”  When the meeting reopened, the council voted 3-2 to terminate part-time municipal liquor store employee Diana Forrester.

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