WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council approved the first reading of a proposed amendment to city code during its regular meeting Monday night.

In an effort to protect the environment of Lake Okabena, a 1995 ordinance created regulations on development around public waters. Among the rules decided at that time was a requirement that any water-oriented structure built between 10 and 50 feet of the high water line may not include water or sewer connections.

The Planning Commission has noticed that in the L zoned properties in Worthington, several variances have been approved to override this rule. The commission recommended a change of the city code only as it applies to properties with an L zone designation - that they would be exempt from the prohibition on water and sewer facilities. The L zone includes 21 properties on West Lake Avenue between Sundown Drive and Pershing Boulevard.

After some discussion, the council voted in favor of this amendment.

Also on the agenda was approval to create and define four new city staff positions in an effort to more evenly divide workload and provide better customer service.

The positions are:

  • Assistant City Administrator/Director of Economic Development
  • City Clerk
  • Human Resources Assistant and Compensation Specialist
  • City Planner

While the position of City Clerk currently exists, the duties of the position would change. Other positions would replace existing jobs, for a net of only one additional employee.

City Administrator Steve Robinson reported that after benefits, this action would cost the city an additional $37,800 annually. He believes the city’s budget can accommodate such a change and that creating these positions will allow the city to better serve its citizens.

Council members unanimously passed the staff positions motion.

The council also considered and awarded bids for the Beach Nook bathroom and Beach Nook trails and utilities projects. It had previously voted to separate the Beach Nook renovation into two projects at its Jan. 14 meeting, and agreed to advertise for bids at its Feb. 11 meeting.

At the recommendation of the Department of Public Works, city council voted in favor of the Brunton Architects bid of $449,212 for the Beach Nook bathroom project and the Duininck Inc. bid of $194,721.45 for the Beach Nook trails and utilities project.

In total, the two awarded bids come to $643,933.45, a significant decrease from the total bid submitted last year for $1.125 million when the Beach Nook renovation was slated as a single project.

In other business, City Engineer Dwayne Haffield presented a report on the need to improve a section of East Avenue. The council agreed to host a public hearing as part of the next city council meeting on March 25.