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Hancock city council asked again to repeal ordinance

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news Morris, 56267
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

The Hancock City Council members decided to set up a work session in order to review, and possibly change, the ordinance regarding occupancy limits in the city. Last month, several representatives of Hancock Concrete attended the council meeting to ask for changes or a repeal of the ordinance. Some of these same representatives attended the January meeting on Monday night and once again made the same points and asked for the changes.

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The ordinance is loosely referred to as an occupancy ordinance and regulates the number of non-related people who can occupy a single residence. The ordinance the council approved in December was copied from a similar ordinance adopted in a metro city.  

The ordinance states: the maximum occupancy for a dwelling unit is one family plus up to two unrelated persons living together as a permanent household, provided the family plus unrelated persons shall not exceed a total of five persons. The total number of individuals allowed only pertains to the addition of unrelateds.  A family of six or more individuals would not be considered a violation of this provision.

One of the points made against the ordinance was that it may be something adopted by larger cities addressing overcrowding. Justin Cronen, representing Hancock Economic Development Authority, told council members that he feels these types of problems in a small town could be addressed by other ordinances that have been in effect for years. He added that the way the ordinance is written, it would be a challenge to enforce. He suggested that instead of having this ordinance, the council members try to work with the property owners to address any potential concerns.

The ordinance can also affect some families currently living in the community. Mark Mattson was present at the meeting and stated that his family of seven children, along with the foreign exchange student they are hosting, would possibly put them in violation of the ordinance. Another violation could also be a group of four college students renting a single home.

City Attorney Carl TThunem explained to those present that there were two types of ordinances that could address this issue. One is the occupancy ordinance that the council adopted and the other is a relationship based ordinance that is usually geared toward college type scenarios. Thunem added that there are also international property codes that have provisions for overcrowding. He added that the council really needs to decide what problems they are trying to address.

Council member Jeff Kisgen suggested that a work night be set up in order for the council and the Hancock Concrete representatives to work together on resolving the issue and coming up with changes to the ordinance or a new ordinance that can be adopted, repealing the current one. A work night was set up for Monday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. This will be an open meeting.

Trailer home issue

Leroy Bogenreif and Dan Bolling attended the council meeting to question a letter they received about a trailer home parked at the Bogenreif property. Bolling explained that he and his wife had moved the trailer home there temporarily and they are living in the Bogenreif home while working on renovations in the trailer.

The council members sent the letter with a list of the city codes which prohibits setting up trailer homes on lots not previously designated for this.

Since the trailer is not hooked up to city utilities and not being placed there permanently, Bolling asked what was in violation of the code.

Mayor Bruce Malo stated that the council was not aware of the reason for the trailer being placed on the property and stated that the misunderstanding could have been avoided through explaining the situation. The council members were under the impression that someone was living in the trailer while working on it.

The council members voted to allow the trailer to remain on the property until June 1 to allow for the completion of the renovations and then it is to be moved to a permanent location.

Other business

• Hancock Fire Chief Kyle Rose opened the bids for the fire equipment put up for sale. The winning bid was submitted by James Busse of Appleton and the equipment has since been removed.

• City maintenance director John Jepma told the council members that there has been some problems with a pump in the Eastview lift station. He will be hiring someone  to come and lift the pump out and see if it can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.

• The city has been advertising for a part-time police chief and in the meantime, the county is giving Hancock some coverage. Malo has been in conversation with Sheriff Jason Dingman but before any decisions are made about county coverage, the city council would like to see if any applications are received for the part-time position. It was noted that the county currently does not have a lot of extra man-power to give Hancock a lot of hours.

• The April council meeting was changed from April 14 to April 8 in order to hold the Board of Review meeting on the same night.

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