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Worthington City Council considers acquiring mobile stage; ends retail overlay district

The council was joined by Crailsheim Mayor Dr. Cristoph Grimmer for its Monday night meeting.

City of Worthington
Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)
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WORTHINGTON — A day after removing a stage brought in for Worthington’s annual Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival on Sailboard Beach, the Worthington City Council authorized the advertisement for quotes for a mobile stage that would belong to the city.

Mobile stages are used at a number of community events in Worthington throughout the year, including the Regatta, Beach Bash, International Festival and Turkey Day, with sponsoring groups paying upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per event for stage rental. The city currently provides financial support for Turkey Day ($3,500), International Festival ($1,000) and the Regatta ($2,000).

“My thought is we could use (the mobile stage) as an in-kind donation,” said City Administrator Steve Robinson. “And then rather than give (city event organizers) an annual cash donation, we're giving them much more valuable in-kind trade. It would save them a tremendous amount of money, them and other organizations.”

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After reviewing past financials, the council moved to enter into a one-year lease agreement for the ice arena.

Additionally, the mobile stage could be made available to non-Worthington organizations on a rental basis.

Built on a trailer unit, the proposed stage is made for easy storage, hauling and set up. The recommended stage deck is approximately 34-feet in length and 24-feet wide — similar in size to the one seen at this year’s Regatta — with a roof covering the stage platform.

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The estimated cost of a stage unit is $220,000, and city staff has recommended that funding for a stage unit come from the city's 2022 ARPA allocation, expected to be received in the coming weeks.

Retail Overlay District

Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council discussed removal of the city’s retail overlay district, which currently restricts businesses that can operate without a conditional use permit to retail and restaurants along the 10th Street corridor.

“We are often criticized for being difficult to work with, bureaucratic, unfriendly to businesses, and on occasion, those criticisms have some degree of merit,” Robinson said. “At my direction, staff has been instructed to root out ordinances for consideration of changes that are considered over-bureaucratic and unnecessary.”

The final reading and adoption of the amendment was tabled during the last council meeting, when several local business owners expressed concerns. Many of those same business owners attended a joint special meeting between the council and the Worthington Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee last month.

After a presentation from City Planner Matt Selof, including details on the lack of “retail-only” districts in communities of similar size in the region, council members debated whether or not to restart the amendment process with inclusions that would address business owner concerns around certain services they did not want downtown, such as parking and terminals. Alternatively, the council entertained passing the reading and introducing a separate amendment that would alter the allowed businesses in the downtown district at a later date.

However, it was noted that finalizing the amendment now would remove obstacles for any businesses seeking to open along that downtown corridor in the meantime, as well as save city staff time.

The council moved to adopt the amendment, removing the retail shopping overlay district, while stating the intention of amending the city code to exclude parking, terminals and cleaning services as part of the newly permitted uses in the B2 downtown zone, as soon as possible.

In other action, City Council:

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  • Approved tax abatements through the Nobles Home Initiative on six sites that are planned for single-family homes, following a series of brief public hearings. As part of the JBS Hometown Strong Housing Development project, designed to help provide housing in the area, the homes will be located in southeast Worthington. 
  • Approved the second reading of a proposed ordinance that would alter the requirements of the city’s liquor liability insurance. 
  • Approved the second reading of a proposed rental ordinance that would establish new inspection requirements for rental units. 
  • Adopted an ordinance establishing an annual permit for mobile food units. 
  • Authorized the reimbursement of $20,314 to Southwest Real Estate for land reacquired by the city of Worthington. 
  • Accepted a $7,500 donation from the American Kennel Club Reunite Adopt a K9 Cop matching fund program. The funds will be included in a future purchase of a dog for the police department’s canine program.
  • Approved the decommissioning of a Civil Service Siren system, which will be donated to the community of Reading.  The Public Safety Department is in the process of replacing Worthington’s current civil service siren system.
  • Approved the advertisement of bids for this year’s state aid-funded bituminous pavement improvements. Bids must be received by 2 p.m. July 13 in the council chambers and be awarded at the July 25 council meeting, following review and recommendation from city staff. 
  • Approved an amendment to a conditional use permit for Igelesia Pentecostal Unida Hispana, which would allow for additional property to be included in the church’s permit. 
  • City Council members offered their thanks to all those involved with both the organization of the 2022 Regatta and Music Festival and the Crailsheim, Germany visit. 
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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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