City Engineer Dean Chamberlain left his post at the end of 2022 to pursue a job with an engineering firm in the Twin Cities. At the Tuesday, Jan. 17 common council meeting, Erin McPhee Anderson was approved to take over. Her estimated start date is Feb. 14.
Smoke shop ordinance
Council approved an ordinance that defines "smoke shops,” as well as regulates location and the number of licenses to be permitted.
It restricts these businesses from opening within 750 feet of a school, day-care or public park and 500 feet from another smoke shop.
One shop is allowed per 2,500 population, or fraction thereof, as annually estimated by the Wisconsin Department of Administration.
Community Development Director Mike Johnson doesn’t believe there are any smoke shops that would currently violate these new guidelines.
Though this specific ordinance does not pertain to enforcement, with varying laws between states and the federal government, it’s a hard industry to regulate.
“Our PD actually has gone out a few times to some of our local establishments, just because it’s getting grayer and grayer everyday,” City Administrator Aaron Reeves said. ‘It’s a very fast changing area but our PD does go out on a very regular basis to do what they can to enforce what we can.”
Staff brought this forward to council as the city continues to get applications to open smoke shops.
“We do think it’s in the community’s best interest to try to put some sort of controls on it for a number of reasons,” Reeves said.
Public works update
“We’re very grateful that the council voted to designate the remaining ARPA funds to public works to spend on street maintenance,” Alderperson Joy Knudson said.
The public works committee, working closely with Public Works and Parks Director Mike Mroz, have started identifying where that over $300,000 would best cover the cost of a street project.
“We decided that we would like to include the whole council in this decision making,” Knudson said.
Council is expected to take up that conversation in the near future.
Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 20, to offer the community a time to comment Knudson used a “ping pong” analogy to describe the rezoning application. The plan commission recommends a public hearing, council approves a public hearing, hosts it, and then it goes back and forth again between the council and plan commission.
Council was in favor of moving forward with that first step in the process – approving the date for a public hearing.
Operation Help held a neighborhood meeting regarding the application in October and one in December.
Architectural Studio EA is working with the nonprofit to construct 727 Second St, the former Norlake building, into its new place of operation.
Currently, the plot is zoned as light industrial, however Operation Help has applied to change that to central business. This rezoning is considered to be a downzoning from a heavier industrial use to a general downtown commercial use.
The location is already designated in the Comprehensive Plan Land Use map as downtown commercial, this would not require updates to the zoning amendment proposal.
The building is expected to hold multi-use office space and become the nonprofit’s headquarters. Modifications include an addition of an elevator, changes in exterior entrances to improve accessibility and interior floor plan adjustments.
Operation Help may lease space to other nonprofit tenets, like the Hudson Food and Backpack Program.
This proposed use of the building would require future Conditional Use Permit applications and review by the plan commission and council.
Police department requests
The police department plans to update sidearms from .40 caliber to 9 mm. The current sidearms are 11 years old and are beginning to have internal parts and maintenance requirements, posing safety risks. The cost of this transition is over $17,000, including new firearms and trade in values. An additional $12,606 is required for new holsters and ammunition. These costs were accounted for in the 2023 Capital Improvement Plan.
Additionally, with just $23.60 in funds left available, the department wants to purchase unbudgeted miscellaneous items “that would increase the efficiency of operations.”
Three old clerical staff office chairs are requested to be replaced at $489 each.
A portable projector with wifi and bluetooth capabilities for traveling training and presentations is being requested for $279.
Seven command boards, which include incident command materials, dry erase board and other documents for incidents, in vehicles to assist supervisors in field command are requested costing about $2,150.
Lynn Wakefield was appointed to the Joint Fire Board.
A public hearing was hosted on the 2022 sidewalk replacement program, which has substantially been completed. Final approvals for some material costs that varied from initial estimates were needed. Properties on Grandview Drive, Stageline Road, Center Drive and Grey Fox Lane are the last of the year’s replacements. Affected property owners were mailed a notification of the public hearing, though nobody made a comment. Council approved moving forward with the final costs.
Hudson Hot Air Affair presented the city with the newly purchased banners that will hang downtown while the festivities commence, Feb. 3-5.