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Alechia Neubauer and Travis Sorenson fill seats for city positions

Two Berthold residents stepped into leadership positions at the June 3rd city council meeting, filling a seat on the council as well as the Planning & Zoning Committee.

6/12/13 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

Two Berthold residents stepped into leadership positions at the June 3rd city council meeting, filling seats on the council as well as the Planning & Zoning Committee.

Alechia Neubauer was appointed to serve a one-year term on the Berthold City Council, following the resignation of Jim Peterson.

Neubauer was asked to resign from the Planning & Zoning Committee in order to serve on the council, with council members then appointing Travis Sorenson to replace Neubauer on the committee.

Neubauer introduced herself as a first grade teacher at Berthold Public School who has lived in the city since 2007. She mentioned her concerns about maintaining and expanding the city’s infrastructure to accommodate the growth the community is experiencing. She also indicated an interest in attracting businesses to Main Street in Berthold.

“I know it’s cliche,” she finished, “but I think a woman’s point of view might be good for the council.” Council members laughed with her at the statement, even as Mayor Lee praised her work on the Planning & Zoning Committee.

Travis Sorenson is a lifelong Minot resident who moved to Berthold in 2011, after losing his family’s home to the Mouse River flood. A former teacher at Minot High School, Sorenson is self-employed in the construction business. He and his wife have two children attending elementary school in Berthold.

“I’d be willing to do whatever to help you out,” he said, adding that he has done building work in the area for 25 years. “I might be able to help more on the Planning & Zoning Committee because of my construction background.”

Neubauer will begin her term at the July city council meeting, while Sorenson will start his service at the Planning & Zoning meeting scheduled for June 24th.

Building projects
in Berthold
Council members acted on 10 applications reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Committee during the May meeting. The council approved two applications for privacy fences, one to remodel an existing garage and construct a new garage, two for additions to residences, one to build a new clubhouse at the city’s golf course, and one to build the first private swimming pool in the city.

Council members also approved an application from Boe Lautenschlager to revise a conditional use permit granted earlier in order to allow up to 100 spaces in an RV park under development behind Western Ag Services. Lautenschlager asked for an extension on the permit, currently granted until October 2013, but the council preferred to see further progress on the RV park before acting on that request.

The council approved a request from Alex Gregg of North Dakota Development, Inc. to rezone a portion of the property designated for that project from residential lots to multi-family lots. Planning & Zoning Committee chairman Nathan Fegley said the lots in question were sized at 5000 square feet and would accommodate double-wide modular homes and apartment buildings.

However, approval was not granted to a second development proposed by another individual for property south of the railroad tracks. Fegley said the Planning & Zoning Committee had several questions about the application, but the developer was not present at the meeting to provide the information. “They also want annexed into the city,” he said.

“Personally, I don’t want to annex anything in until I know what we’re annexing in,” said Mayor Alan Lee.

Lagoon system overflows
with rooftop water
The city’s over-taxed lagoon continues to need monitoring after major rain events, but public works director Dwight Thompson was closer to finding an answer to the problems.

“We think it could be water draining off the roof at the school,” he told council members.

The sewer lines have been checked with a camera system that has indicated some filtration, but nothing that could account for the overflow experienced at the lagoon. “This last time [when it rained], we popped all the manhole covers,” said Mayor Lee. “The one by the school had an eight-inch pipe running full of clear water.”

Thompson said he had talked with custodian Janice Feickert about the situation and the city’s assumption the water was draining into the sewer system from the school parking lot. However, Feickert described a pipe draining the school building’s roof to an unknown destination.

“That has to be it,” said Thompson.

He noted a few sump pumps continue to empty into the city’s sewer system, despite requests from council members and ordinances prohibiting that set-up. Another possible contribution to the overflow could be old storm drains installed decades ago and now covered.

The pumps at the lift station itself should be operating at maximum capacity, according to Thompson. “We just serviced them and cleaned them a couple months ago,” he said.

Mayor Lee reminded the council an engineer’s report from Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson had been ordered to address the situation. “Something needs to be done with the sewer, something needs to be done with the lift station, and something needs to be done with the line,” he said.

City engineer Brice Nelson announced the first meeting regarding the report would be held June 5th, with work expected to be completed within one to two months and presented to the city council.

Developer Alex Gregg asked if one or two council members could schedule a meeting with him and two of his business partners for June 13th to discuss the city’s sewer expansion project in light of his proposed development. He noted he expected to close on the property June 11th. “We would like to start working toward a developer’s agreement with the city,” he said, “and we have a preliminary drawing coming from our engineers.”

Mayor Lee agreed with meet with Gregg and other representatives of North Dakota Development, Inc., although the engineering report about the city’s sewer system will not be ready at that time.

Municipal court
to begin soon
Berthold Chief of Police Al Schmidt reported Keri Giddens of Berthold was hired as the clerk of court, a part-time position for the city. Giddens will handle a variety of duties for the court, including taking notes during hearings and maintaining records.

Thompson will also serve the city as the municipal judge. Schmidt said court will be held twice monthly in the city council chambers, beginning when all the necessary legal details are finalized with city attorney Bryan Van Grinsven.

Council members approved a motion to follow the state’s procedures and guidelines related to establishing and levying fines for local ordinance violations.

Replacing city landfill
with roll-off containers
Mayor Lee raised the issue of the continued abuse of the city’s landfill. “About the only thing we can do at this point is close it and put black dirt over it,” he said. “If we shut it down, we’ll need more roll-offs, which will generate higher fees.”

Lee noted the landfill could only accept burnable materials, with household garbage, electronics and other materials prohibited.

Council members discussed several options for the present landfill, including additional signs and a keyed gate. They also talked about problems with monitoring the use of the extra roll-offs.

The council informally decided to seek a location that could be fenced to place more roll-offs. Mayor Lee described the project as something he would like to have done before winter begins.

In other business:
•Council members approved minutes of the regular and special meetings held in May, along with the city’s bills for payment, as presented.

•Fegley agreed to check with the Berthold Township board about whether the city or the township has the authority to request the Sand Solutions fracking sand operation to erect a fence around the property to contain empty sand bags and other materials blown by wind. According to council members, representatives from the business previously offered to build a fence if blowing trash became a problem for residential neighbors, and the council has now received complaints about the situation.

•The council passed an ordinance, on second reading, governing transient merchants and vendors doing business in Berthold. Police chief Al Schmidt noted the ordinance required such vendors to register with the city and obtain a permit to conduct business while in Berthold.

•Mayor Lee announced the city had purchased a house in Berthold at a cost of $157,000 with the intention of doing a contract for deed with Chief Schmidt. Schmidt wants to buy the property for his own residence.

•Council members discussed road maintenance needs and street sign replacement.

•Auditor Penni Miller reported the city’s campground was booked for the entire summer, with requests already coming to reserve spaces for 2014. Council members discussed the difficulty of keeping spaces available for travelers and visitors to the community who wanted an overnight camping location.

•The next regular meeting of the Berthold City Council is scheduled for July 1, beginning at 7:30 pm at City Hall.