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Monett Council proposes liquor law revision

Monday, January 24, 2011

By MURRAY BISHOFF

The Monett City Council proposed a revision to restrictions on the sale of liquor in specific parts of town in an effort to accommodate potential restaurant business.

Mayor Jim Orr introduced the revision at the January monthly council meeting. He said the ordinance would bring city standards into compliance with less stringent state standards.

The new ordinance would apply to only one area of the city -- from Central Avenue to Thirteenth Street, and Bond to Front streets, covering downtown. Under terms of the ordinance, if any business within 100 feet applied for a liquor license, the city would notify all property owners. In the past, any objections by nearby property owners would automatically veto the proposal. Under the change, the city council alone would make the final decision on the license.

"We felt it was necessary with what's going on downtown. We did not want a restaurant to come in and not be able to sell alcohol in the right atmosphere," said Mayor Jim Orr.

Evening meeting

Second reading of the revised ordinance is scheduled for the February monthly meeting. Orr said the council would once again like to explore having an occasional evening meeting to get public input. With the Feb. 20 falling on a Sunday, the council agreed to meet on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 17.

Mayor Orr said the council is interested in hearing from people who have concerns or ideas for the city. Requests to be placed on the agenda need to be made with Clerk Janie Knight at least 24 hours before the meeting.

Mobile home ordinance

No public comment was offered on the ordinance introduced last month on the location of mobile homes. The existing ordinance allowed an RV to be placed on a vacant lot and operated as a residence. The proposed ordinance restricts RVs to being parked in the rear yard or in the rear portion of a lot adjacent to the owner's residence. Stand alone units will have to be placed in a fully enclosed building. Final approval was scheduled for Feb. 17.

Parking lot landscaping

A new ordinance was introduced on landscaping and open spaces. Building Inspector Wade Ennes said other towns the size of Monett have enacted landscaping ordinances to help keep large parking lots and industrial properties from turning into sterile concrete landscapes.

The proposal would only apply to new construction, Ennes said. Existing parking lots would be grandfathered in their present state. A second reading with public discussion was scheduled for Feb. 17.

YMCA extension granted

Council members granted an extension to the Monett Area YMCA to begin construction of its new facility on ground leased from South Park by Sept. 30. The previous deadline to break ground was May 20.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the YMCA was finishing its fundraising phase. The Y board had selected a firm to prepare final designs for its aquatic center and needed more time to complete all its preparations.

Additional business

In other business, the council:

* Approved the annexation of 15 acres of land owned by Randy and Pam Faith on the southwest corner of Farm Roads 2230 and 1090.

* Renewed the contract with Barry County Collector Janice Varner for collection of property taxes to pay for the subdivision sewer system. The contract has to be renewed every four years. Pyle said collections will continue until 2024 to pay off the debt.

* Paid monthly bills totaling $1,688,266.98. The largest bills included $1,029,268.60 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity; $65,000 to Water Products for meters and assorted supplies; $49,000 to Ed Laubinger Excavation for work on the west lift station upgrade; $30,000 to DeLage Laden Finance as payment on police cars; and $20,000 to MFA Oil for diesel fuel.

* Received an update on the status of negotiations with Empire District Electric. According to Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, an agreement in principal over the future purchase of wholesale electricity has been reached. The deal now waits for final approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Rauch expects a deal will be signed sometime later this year. Rauch also reported that the city hit a new peak for demand of electricity in 2010 of 47.8 megawatts. The city purchased 249,332 kilowatt hours of electricity for the year.



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