by Maggie Stanwood

Contributing Writer

Plants and Things will relocate next to Furniture and Things after the Elk River City Council approved an interim use permit, a zone change and a preliminary and final plat at the Monday, April 18, meeting.

Plants and Things, a partner business of Furniture and Things, is currently located in Ramsey — where it’s been for more than 40 years. However, the owners decided to relocate to Elk River due to impacts from the highway project at Sunfish Lake Boulevard and Highway 10, city staff said during the meeting.

“I think this is a big opportunity for the Elk River community to have two major brands coming together,” Council Member Jennifer Wagner said. “You could go anywhere with this, so I appreciate you and thank you that you’re bringing Plants and Things into our community.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission recommended a cash dedication of more than $34,200, or 8% of the county-assessed value of the vacant land. The owner proposed donating outdoor furniture to cover some, or all, of the park dedication fees. Mayor John Dietz said the park dedication or outdoor furniture donation is an item the Parks and Recreation Commission can consider and offer a recommendation to the council.

The project received one written letter of support. The current property is undeveloped. City staff said construction would likely start later in 2022.

In other action at the April 18 meeting, the council:

•Approved a proposal for commissioning lighting and HVAC system services for Fire Station No. 3 for a total of $19,750. Commissioning was recommended by the project architect and building maintenance supervisor to ensure the components were installed correctly and met specifications. Funding will come from the project fund.

•Approved two shade structures for the Orono Park pickleball courts. The structures with a red metal roof, plus installation assembly and concrete flatwork will cost nearly $60,000 with funding from the Park Improvement Fund.

•Hired Joshua Mollan as the economic development intern. The economic development specialist for the city resigned in October and city staff have not yet found a replacement. Mollan approached the city about his interest in working in local government. Mollan has a master’s degree in public administration. The internship will last six months. According to council documents, city staff still intend to fill the economic development specialist position at a later date.

•Approved the purchase of two 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles to serve as command vehicles for the fire department. The vehicles will be used for the duty officer program and by the deputy fire chief of administration for daily duties and emergency response. Each vehicle is expected to cost around $51,100, with the base vehicle being $42,000, vehicle outfitting such as lighting, sirens and labor coming in at $7,000 and graphics and lettering costing more than $2,100.

•Promoted Zack Carlton to the position of community development director. The former director Suzanne Fischer transitioned to the environmental services and special projects director.

•Approved, updated the city’s organizational chart and job descriptions for community development and administration.

•Welcomed new Communications Coordinator Klara Porath.

•Approved a conditional use permit for a kennel at 18753 Cleveland Street – K9 Country Club.

Work session items included:

•Received information regarding organizational structure changes in public works and consented to the change.

•Discussed the volunteer recognition program and consented to increasing the per person farmers market allowance to $10 to thank volunteers for their service to the city.

In closed session, discussed and provided direction regarding a property purchase.

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