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Of boats and bikes: City discusses private docks, approves bicycle lane plan

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council met for a regular city council session Monday night to discuss dock system issues on Lake Okabena, bike lanes on Oxford Street and a sewer extension to a property proposed for annexation.

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council met for a regular city council session Monday night to discuss dock system issues on Lake Okabena, bike lanes on Oxford Street and a sewer extension to a property proposed for annexation. 

The council approved a dock application and extended the city’s allowance for the number of private docks on the lake to 15. Previously, the limit was set at 10. With the action, council members eliminated a 1995 memo that limited the number of docks in the area (along Lake Avenue and parts of Lake Street and South Shore Drive) to three.

The council created the limit with the expectation that the number will be increased in the future.
“We set the (previous) limit because no one is requesting anymore,” Councilman Scott Nelson said. “People just haven’t come forward.”
Councilman Rod Sankey questioned why city should set a dock maximum.
“Why do we have to limit (the number of docks) if we have to change it all the time?” Sankey asked. He later added that increasing activity on the lake would result in its additional pollution, an issue the city is already trying to address.
Councilwoman Diane Graber said she would be opposed to a corporate dock on the lake if the council increased the number of private docks.
“I believe that there should be some type of limitation,” she said, adding that the lake should not have the high levels of activity of Lake Okoboji.
“I don’t see (limiting the number of private docks) fixing any problems,” said Mayor Mike Kuhle.
The council also approved a plan for bike lanes to be striped onto Oxford Street when Minnesota Department of Transportation crews resurface the part of the street that connects to U.S. 59 in 2017.
The plan would create an eight-foot bike lane along the sides of the street (near the sidewalks) and a four-foot buffer between the lanes and motorized traffic. It would eliminate street parking on the street.
Some patrons park on the side of the street for certain stores along the intended bike lane area. The affected stores were given notice of an open house on the issue in January, but the city has not received their input, said city engineer Dwayne Haffield.
The project would cost the city $50,000 for striping and signage.
In an additional matter, the council also approved the first reading of a petition to annex 6.5 acres owned by Allen Drost. The annexation will be read at the next two council meeting for public input and discussion.
Kuhle asked Worthington Director of Community and Economic Development Brad Chapulis if it was possible for the city to annex a house in the middle of the property owned by Emmanuel Hernandez and his partner, Kayla, who do not want to be apart of the annexation.
Chapulis said it was possible, although it would require an additional 90 days and the proposal’s reading at three council meetings. He also said that typically, property annexed into the city would be used for urban development.
A nearby resident - Jason Johnson, who owns property west of Drost’s - asked the council if his land would be annexed by city in the future.
“Without trying to impede on people’s plans ... I like living outside of corporate limits,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to want to have problems, but I’m certainly not trying to stop anything from happening.”
The council cannot guarantee that the city won’t annex the land in 10-15 years, Kuhle said.
In other business, the council:

  • Approved a preliminary plat for the Merck addition
  • Approved a vacation right of way for Sanford Health. The company submitted a petition for vacation of a portion of Sixth Avenue north of 10th Street and a public alley between Fifth and Sixth avenues and 10th and 11th streets. It requested the city decommission the areas as public streets so it can incorporate them into its main campus.
  • Approved the first reading of the rezoning for the Grand Terrace Addition. The zone will be considered a multi-family medium- to high-density zone instead of a single-family residential area, if formally passed. 
  • Approved a preliminary plat for Grand Terrace Addition.
  • Approved rezoning 23 acres of 36 acres owned by Yellow Company LLC to an area of general business. The site encompasses the former Northland Mall property.
  • Approved a resolution pertaining to the city’s intent to bond for costs incurred in making public improvements.
  • Approved the summer hours for Public Works employees.
  • Had a public hearing and approved of plans for a sewer extension along Knollwood Drive and First Avenue that would connect to Drost’s property once it is annexed. 
  • Approved a Nobles Home Initiative Amendment that would allow a developer near Prairie Elementary to receive a tax abatement for a multi-family unit it will build.
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