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B.E. Council addresses complaints

BLUE EARTH– Between public outcry regarding the city’s stance on bees and chickens and a serious personnel complaint, the Blue Earth City Council navigated a difficult meeting on Monday.

The evening was capped by a closed session addressing a personnel complaint against Blue Earth Fire Department chief Steve Brown.

“At this time, we’re not going to do anything with what the charges against him are,” mayor Rick Scholtes said following the closed session. “Steve is doing his job to what the description requires.” 

The council then voted not to investigate the complaints against Brown.

Three elected officers on the Blue Earth Fire Department – assistant chief Ashley Bleess, captain Nicholas Bleess and lieutenant James Wirkus — expressed their discontent with the council’s decision. All three said they intend to resign from their positions in protest.

Lengthy discussion also followed the first reading of an ordinance to repeal subsections 360.15 and 360.16 of the City Code, which authorize urban chickens and honeybees by permit.

Several members of the public were present to urge the council not to repeal the subsections, including the Walter family, who have been raising chickens on their Blue Earth property for several years.

“I named my chicken after my favorite teacher,” Logan Walter, age nine, told the council. “Our chickens’ eggs are better than the store’s, and I want to keep my chicken.”

Scholtes thanked the public for their input, but explained that the ordinance under consideration that evening needed to be passed to address discrepancies in the City Code regarding the definition of a ’farm animal.’

City attorney David Frundt also explained, “For the decision to be reconsidered, someone who voted (not to allow chickens and bees) has to ask it to be brought forward again.” 

Accordingly, either Russ Erichsrud, Marty Cassem, Ann Hanna or Scholtes – all of whom voted down Ordinance 22-14, which would have allowed chickens and bees by permit – would need to bring the issue forward for reconsideration at a later meeting.

The council then voted to conduct a second reading of the ordinance repealing the authorization of urban chickens and honeybees, with the intent of addressing the current discrepancies in the City Code.

In other business, the Blue Earth City Council:

— Approved a $58.51 sewer credit request from Naseem Shahrivar, who rents the property at 521 Third Street E.

— Conducted a nuisance hearing for code violations at 517 Sixth Street E., determining the owner has 20 days to address the violations before the city issues an abatement order.

— Approved Ordinance 22-15 conveying city-owned property  the former Andy s Oriental Cafe lot  to Hey Renaissance in the amount of $1,000.

— Approved a quote from Dan Welder to remodel Blue Earth Wine and Spirits. The $10,459.58 estimate covers the installation of two new checkout counters.

— Approved a special assessment deferment application from Linda and Thomas Taylor in the amount of $5,892.35.

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