City Council hears from multiple patrons
The Fairview City Council met at 7 pm. Thursday, Aug. 4, at the Fairview Community Building. Present for the meeting were Mayor Art Vonderschmidt, Council Members Sierra Renner, Doug Bletscher, Charlie Kramer, Steve Holthaus and Bridget Harvey, Community Center Manager Joann Keim, City Treasurer Kim Rettele, City Clerk Christine Rosenberger and City Employee George Blanton. There also were 10 guests present.
Fairview patron Jessica McCulloch was on the agenda to address the council about multiple topics, including a community improvement request, she received from Fairview City Code Officer Ashley Martinez.
“I was issued a citation. The last City Council meeting was on the [July] seventh,” McCulloch said. “It was brought to my attention that someone in the City Council specifically mentioned my address, and specifically mentioned that my cousin’s husband is a judge and so, you guys would have to look into another judge. Which to me, it speaks to more of a motive than just having me clean up and a notice. It speaks more to an endgame. It speaks more to a punitive kind of thing. I don’t appreciate that, because I was not at the meeting. I mowed the night you had the city council meeting. I don’t want anyone from the city council on my property. If you guys have any notices or anything like that you want to send, you can send it through the mail. I don’t appreciate being harassed.”
“You trampled over the fencing materials in the yard,” McCulloch said. “I was told that my flower garden looks like weeds and that it needs to be cut down and that it’s okay if it’s a wildflower garden bed, not the kind of flower garden that I have. I will not be cutting down my flower bed, because then it will not bloom next year. I showed her [Martinez] and I walked her [Martinez] through the garden. There were not weeds in the area she [Martinez] was talking about. I did allow a mulberry bush to grow up in the front of it. We keep getting people who are stopping in front of our property while my kids are jumping on the trampoline and so, we need more privacy. So, I chose to let that grow up this time.
“Then, she [Martinez] said that she [Martinez] wanted everything off of my front porch, due to fire safety issues. She [Martinez] refused to walk over to the door. She [Martinez] said the door was blocked. It is not blocked. It was not blocked. As I recall, when my dad came here the meeting before last, he was told point blank that any of those buildings on Main Street, if the windows are full of junk — if it’s under roof — there is nothing you can do about it. Well, it is under roof on my front porch, that I can’t even use like a front porch because of all the traffic.”
Vonderschmidt said McCulloch needed to address these issues in court. McCulloch said it was a community improvement request that was issued by the City of Fairview and not an official ticket.
“It was made at the request of the City Council — according to her [Martinez]— which she [Martinez] has been working for months now,” McCulloch said. If she [Martinez] had a problem with my yard, she [Martinez] would have written a citation beforehand or she [Martinez] would have written an improvement request beforehand. So, for the City council to request this themselves, you guys are abusing your power.”
“She [Martinez] works on the behalf of the City,” Vonderschmidt said. “She [Martinez] has every right to approach your property, to deliver a citation, and that is all she [Martinez] has done. We have not harassed anybody. We’re not trying to. You’re not getting any different treatment than anybody else she [Martinez] delivers a ticket to. Anybody can recommend properties to be looked at to see if there’s a nuisance ordinance, violation, or anything like that. What kind of power is that any different, than anybody else’s power? There’s no power there.”
“So, why was it even brought up at the City council meeting that my cousin’s husband is a judge and that they needed to find a different judge for me in court, when this isn’t even a ticket yet?” McCulloch said.
“I will speak to that, because I was the one who mentioned that if we were going to pursue anything on your property, the judge told us, he would not be able to hear that case,” Rosenberger said. “So, my recommendation to the council was if there was things that Ashley [Martinez] was going to look at, if it ended up in court, we would not have a judge. So, we were being proactive in the fact that we were looking for an alternate judge for that, as well as for other reasons, in case this judge is gone or something like that. It was not specifically targeted to you that we needed to get one, but in mind that the judge had spoke to us and told us that he wouldn’t be able to hear a case, if there was a case brought against your property.”
“Don’t you think it’s kind of five, six steps ahead to be thinking that way?” McCulloch said.
“I think we are being proactive instead of reactive,” Rosenberger said, “which everybody has encouraged us to do, but I’m sorry you felt targeted, but the judge made us aware that if we did have an issue, he wouldn’t be able to hear your case. So, we were just proactive in trying to get a judge as an alternate. Again, not just because of you but in case there were any other cases, or the judge wasn’t able to attend, because we don’t have a backup.”
Bletscher asked why McCulloch felt like the city’s codes should be applied to everyone else but not them.
Vonderschmidt asked why they were “above the code book.”
“You come to the city council meetings, requesting that we follow the letter of the law — like code enforcement,” Vonderschmidt said. “You’re pointing your finger at all kinds of other properties around town, but when we point our finger at you, you’re insulting the city council by not abiding by some of our regulations and then you read the code book, and so why are you above the code book?”
“I am not saying I am above the code book, and I also have not made complaints about the other buildings in the area,” McCulloch said. “I brought the windows to your attention, because you all told my dad to pretty much kick rocks, because it’s under roof, so there is nothing you can do about it. But at the same time, you won’t use the same yardstick with my front porch. I don’t care about anybody else’s property. Honestly, I want everybody to leave everybody alone and stop acting like a bunch of little old ladies sitting and nit-picking because they got nothing better to with a Saturday night.”
McCulloch also asked the council about the truck traffic by her house. They told her to reach out to Fairview Mills.
Casey Votruba asked the council for permission to place a three foot by four foot sign down at the corner advertising his business, Votruba Archery.
“I would sign a contract, do whatever, pour concrete, mow around, make sure there’s not an impediment to any traffic,” Votruba said. “I understand that nothing is for free.”
The council decided to get Votruba a building permit for the sign.
Then, Votruba addressed Don Wikle’s building.
“We had two contractors back out,” Votruba said. “They are stuck in St. Joseph, Mo., and then John Murphy is not scheduled to be here another month or two. He has always been on hire, but we tried two other people for masons and were just waiting on masons.”
Votruba said he also needed a building permit for new awnings.
Fairview patron Corey Gorman was present to apologize to the council about one of his vehicles on the street.
“I will get it taken care of really quickly. We will get it off the street as soon as we can,” Gorman said. “I like to be working with the rest of the community and not causing any problems, as I’m just overall, trying to get along and do well.”
Vonderschmidt asked Fairview patron Paul Reynolds about a “railroad tie that is in the alley on the north side of Donny Novich’s, that goes over to the trailer park.”
“Why is it there?” Vonderschmidt said.
“Well, because the alley is not rocked,” Reynolds said.
“Well, it should be open,” Vonderschmidt said.
“It should be rocked then if it should be open,” Reynolds said.
“No. We got a lot of grass alleys. We’re not going to rock our grass alleys,” Vonderschmidt said.
“Nobody uses them either, but that’s fine,” Reynolds said. “If you want me to move a railroad tie that is 20 feet long, I will do that.”
“Well, let’s just make it the same for everybody,” Vonderschmidt said.
“How about we just close that alley, because nobody uses it anyhow?” Reynolds said.
“Well, the firetrucks might, and it’s still an access point through there to get behind Novich’s building and through there,” Vonderschmidt said. “There’s really no reason. We don’t close very many alleys.”
“Well, you close a lot of streets,” Reynolds said.
“We do, because we got vacated properties on two land owners, one that vacated. That’s understandable. But if it’s an alley, it needs to be open,” Vonderschmidt said.
“Okay. When it gets rutted in, have your employee come down and fill the ruts in. If you would, please,” Reynolds said.
“Okay. I did take your information about the storm drains on 36 Highway and a lot of that was valuable. Thank you very much,” Vonderschmidt said.
Vonderschmidt reported that the new park bridge had been installed and wanted to thank everyone for their work on it, especially Ron Rettele, Al Armstrong and Blanton. Vonderschmidt also said there will be an article in The Fairview Enterprise about the new bridge.
City Sales Tax
Rettele said she had no update on the City Sales Tax question that would be placed on the November ballot. Rosenberger said she kept the item on the agenda, because the council discussed possibly having a town hall meeting to discuss the topic.
City Real Estate
Vonderschmidt and Rosenberger discussed the resolution to close and vacate the streets in the Butch Roger’s property located north of U.S. Highway 36.
After reviewing the resolution, the council approved having a hearing to vacate city streets in the Roger’s property at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Fairview Community Building.
Then, Vonderschmidt reported to the council that he and Blanton cleaned up behind the old Checkers bar. They also hauled a lot of stuff off to the brush pile, but there is still work to be done.
Park Electric Disconnect/Lights
Vonderschmidt said he hasn’t heard from Adam Fleagle on the electric park disconnect or the ball field lights. He was going to contact him again.
Vonderschmidt said they have the new signs in for the brush piles, which need to be put up. He also discussed putting up the new speed limit signs.
Vonderschmidt said the streets need tree limbs cleared, and he contacted Gudenkauf’s but has not heard back.
Vonderschmidt said Milan Kloeper resubmitted his demolition assistance application and it was properly filled out.
The council approved the demolition assistance application for Milan Kloeper at 113 North Ash Street with the city paying up to $2,000 with proper documentation of fees.
Vonderschmidt asked Reynolds about the progress of his demolition that the council approved funds for two months ago. Reynolds said he didn’t realize he had two months to complete it and it is not done.
Vonderschmidt said Keim’s new Travel Plaza needed an address assigned to it.
“Christine called the county and the county said it’s up to the city,” Vonderschmidt said. “I did the checking with the post office and they knew nothing. I called the Sheriff’s Office and they take what the county appraiser tells us. So, the process goes that the city determines the address. We tell the county appraiser. The county appraiser tells 911 system and Keims can go to the post office and tell them what his address is. They are going to use it for a physical address, because a P.O. Box is all they are going to have.”
After a lengthy discussion, the council approved the address to be 801 West First Street, “providing Keim TS approves the address.”
Vonderschmidt also reported to the council that Linda Lehmkuhl’s sign is past due of needing to be removed.
Kramer brought up a concern he had about people from out of town coming into Fairview and buying property to just place a storage shed on it.
“If someone is going to buy lots in this town, I would like to see houses built on it,” Kramer said. “Can the city say, this [property] is more intended for a single family dwelling than it is for a shed?”
“If they submit a building permit, you can always deny it,” Bletscher said.
“You can’t deny a building permit,” Rosenberger said.
“I know how the city of Hiawatha is. If you want to put a shed on it [a property], you have to live on that property too,” Kramer said. “I see us getting pretty proactive about cleaning places up around here, but I don’t want us to become a suburb for Hiawatha to put all of their storage units in.”
“I have mixed feelings on that,” Holthaus said. “Because to me, this is the city of Fairview, not the city of Hiawatha.”
“I would like to see people build houses and come to this town to live,” Kramer said.
“Absolutely, I would too,” Holthaus said.
“I’ve got feelings about putting a stop to progress and economic development,” Vonderschmidt said. “I’m like Steve [Holthaus]. I’ve got mixed feelings. We don’t have people knocking on Fairview’s door everyday to put stuff up, and if we can get something, what do you do? We have restrictions on mobile homes and I myself, don’t really understand that restriction. Because they can be homes.”
“Well as long as we’re sharing our feelings on it. I agree with Charlie,” Rosenberger said. “I don’t think we need Fairview to be a bunch of storage units, where the people aren’t involved in the community, and that is just a broad spectrum statement, where they aren’t involved in the community. They come here. They park their stuff here. They mow their yard and they go home. So I would be interested to see what Hiawatha and Sabetha stipulations are. I think it is worth investigating it, because we have been burned on a lot of things that we just jumped into and thought it was a good idea and then in retrospect, we thought, ‘you know, we should have controlled that more.’”
“You have to be careful what we’re doing,” Holthaus said. “You have a million little towns that have died, because there’s just nothing there. I see both sides of the argument to a certain degree. But if we completely stifle growth all together that is what happens.”
After more discussion, no decision was made on this topic.
K. Rettele said she plans to take a check to pay for new tables and chairs, instead of using her credit card.
Bletscher reported to the council that after the first of the year, R. Rettele will help address the issue on Bletscher’s property.
Renner asked if the council expects Ashley Martinez to attend the monthly city council meetings, due to it being listed in her job description as a requirement. Rosenberger said she would reiterate to Martinez that she is expected to attend the monthly meetings.
Rosenberger discussed a resolution she had for a hearing on code violations. After discussion, the council approved the resolution, as is, to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, for the listed violations, even though some of them will more than likely be addressed prior to the meeting.
The council approved letting the Delaware Baptist Church put a temporary sign up for labor day weekend by the “Fairview” sign, showing that they are going to have coffee and snacks.
J. Keim asked if the hole in the women’s bathroom can be addressed, as well as the urinal in the men’s bathroom is not automatically flushing anymore. J. Keim also asked about ordering some more furnace filters.
J. Keim and Vonderschmidt also said they allowed letting the Boy Scouts set up tent camping in the park for free.
Blanton said he had someone ask him about putting gravel down in the car pool spot where water is standing. Vonderschmidt said that had to be handled through the state.
Also at the meeting:
The council approved the minutes from the July 7 meeting, with a correction about Milan Kloeper’s building permit, which was discussed. This application was not denied. It was returned back to him for him to complete.
The council approved the treasurer’s report.
The council approved a Cereal Malt Beverage License for Hack’s Steak Shack.
The council approved the bills to pay.
After reviewing the budget, the council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15, for the 2022 budget hearing.
The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Fairview Community Building.