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Worthington City Council discusses crisis response services; changes to retail overlay district

The Worthington City Council met Monday night at city hall.

City of Worthington
Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — During their Monday night meeting, the Worthington City Council approved the first reading of a text amendment that would remove the current retail overlay district in the downtown corridor.

The current overlay district exists along 10th Street and limits the businesses able to operate without a conditional use permit to retail and restaurants. Removing it would let other, service-oriented businesses, to set up shop in that area without having to first go through the Planning Commission.

“It can be argued that the overlay district exists to allow the city to pick and choose who can operate downtown,” said Mayor Mike Kuhle. “But I think taking that away, I think it still gives us some control.”

“It keeps the core of traffic flow and people in your shopping area, whether it's …shopping, services or goods,” Councilman Chad Cummings agreed.

This was the first of three readings for the amendment, and City Council members encourage the public to give feedback on the matter as they move forward.

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The council also discussed dispatch services in Worthington and Nobles County, impressing the need to bring emergency medical, fire and rescue, and law enforcement departments together in order to identify all assets and create better crisis response plans.

“We really, here in Worthington, are an island with no one to help us, other than what talents we have here locally,” said City Administrator Steve Robinson. He noted that while the Sanford Worthington ambulance has two backup crews, they are contracted all over Nobles County, and EMTs are dealing with their own worker shortages. When the Adrian Ambulance service is down, which it occasionally is, Sandford Worthington is also responsible for covering its service area. While Worthington maintains a fire department and full-time police force, not all towns in Nobles County do the same.

“We have resources in this town to help aid in situations that no one should go with a lapse of time or have to wait any longer than (they) should be,” Cummings said.

Robinson has begun conversations with Sanford to put together a work group comprised of representatives from the police department, fire department and Sanford Health. Together, they’ll work on contingency plans and identify all of the emergency response assets in Worthington and the surrounding area.

“We have the people that are available,” Robinson said. “We just have to have a plan for utilizing them and make sure we have the proper notification.”

In other action, the council:

  • Approved a resolution to convey the city's Glenwood Heights Second Addition and Third Addition to the EDA so that lots may be sold to interested parties for residential development. 
  • Approved a recommendation from the Traffic and Safety Committee to change the parking restrictions on 11th Street, outside the Center for Active Living. The parking restriction will change from a two-hour time limit to four hours, with no parking between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Approved plans and specifications for the 2022 bituminous pavement improvements, and authorized advertisement for bids to be received by 2 p.m. May 11. The project will involve improvements to  Apel Avenue, Bristol Street, Cynthia Avenue, Eleanor Street and West Oxford Street. The overlay of Burlington Avenue, Omaha Avenue, and Armour Road is also included in this project. 
  • Approved a resolution declaring the intent of the city to reimburse itself with bonds for the public improvement projects along Eight Avenue and the 2022 bituminous pavement improvements. 
  • Approved the use of a reserved $22,000 from the Equipment Revolving Schedule to go toward replacing the current outdated surveying equipment used by city staff. The total replacement cost is estimated at $33,000 and there are plans to use American Rescue Plan funds to cover the remaining cost. 
  • Entered into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in order to distribute the Federal ARPA grant funds awarded to the Worthington Municipal Airport. 
  • Approved the preliminary and final plat plans for the Drost Addition, creating one new lot containing an existing residential home and some accessory buildings.
  • As part of National Telecommunicators Appreciation Week, Cummings thanked local dispatchers for their work. 
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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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