I have two updates on topics I’ve previously written about in this space: the joint planning meeting from last night and previous votes by Bemidji City Councilor Greg Negard.
First: joint planning. Officials at the joint planning meeting last night decided, after some discussion, to go with the first agenda that I posted on yesterday’s blog entry. Jan Heuer, a supervisor on the Bemidji Town Board, in particular, objected to the change in the agenda.
Cliff Tweedale, the facilitator for the meeting, said he didn’t have any problems going with the first agenda. He did explain what happened, stating that he, Mel Milender and Rita Albrecht had been discussing a potential agenda for a while when Mel needed to post an agenda to meet legal requirements. Milender added that all of the topics listed on the original agenda were intended to be discussed either way, most likely under the "short-term issues" section on the second agenda.
The matter was resolved.
The meeting last night was quite interesting. I guess I should have known better, but I did expect more solutions to be reached regarding certain issues, such as Algoma Park. But that was kind of a dumb expectation, to be honest. Officials had way too much on their plate for a two-hour meeting to be able to reach conclusions on such issues.
Instead, Tweedale led the group to identify methods in which solutions could be established in the short-term. Several issues will likely be addressed through a communication strategy that will be developed between city and joint planning staff, and then, ultimately, the Joint Planning Board.
So more information will be forthcoming – which will, hopefully, address some of residents’ many concerns.
Second issue: Greg Negard’s votes.
This one is way overdue. (Again, I got backlogged.) But this was an issue that came up earlier this month. I wrote on this issue in August, pondering whether Negard’s vote regarding the proposed height for development in the south shore changed. He originally voted along with the council majority on Aug. 10 in favor of a motion that I had interpreted as authorizing City Manager John Chattin "to make a presentation to the JPB on behalf of the city in favor of the height increase."
Negard, who also serves on the JPB, then voted that Wednesday, Aug. 12, on the JPB against the increase in height. (The height increased was approved, however.)
I maintained in the Aug. 13 blog entry that, no, Negard’s position did not change.
To quote myself (which feels very strange, by the way):
"I tried to be very careful in the wording of the motion, which I included in a story in Wednesday’s Pioneer, writing: "The Bemidji City Council [Monday] voted 6-1 in favor of a request from City Manager John Chattin to gain council support in asking for the height variance. Councilor Barb Meuers was opposed."
OK, so why I am re-hashing this now?
I stated in my Aug. 13 blog that I would have checked the minutes of the meeting, but they weren’t ready. Well, the Bemidji City Council on Sept.8 received the minutes of the work session at which Negard voted with the council authorizing Chattin’s presentation.
But the minutes weren’t approved that night. Negard took exception to the way the motion was written: "Motion by Waldhausen, seconded by Hellquist, directing Chattin to relay to the Joint Planning Board the Council’s support of an 80 foot height limit for the BREC. Motion carried by the following vote: Ayes: Lehmann, Hellquist, Johnson, Negard, Waldhausen, Downs. Nays: Meuers."
Negard said Sept. 8 that he did not vote in favor of the height, but rather in favor of allowing the presentation to the JPB. Kay Murphy, the city clerk, said she would listen to the tape and return with any corrections to the minutes.
The revised minutes were presented – and approved – this past Monday. The motion now reads: "Motion by Waldhausen, seconded by Hellquist, directing the City Manager to address the Joint Planning Board to seek the higher height variance. Motion carried by the following vote: Ayes: Lehmann, Hellquist, Johnson, Negard, Waldhausen, Downs. Nays: Meuers."
(In fairness to Murphy, by the way, she didn’t record the minutes of the Aug. 10 work session as she was on vacation; someone else was filling in.)
So, yeah, it’s kind of an old issue now. But I thought I should at least give you readers the final update on the matter.