Council hears comments on food truck ordinance

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By Shelia Tomkins

At the regular monthly meeting on Aug. 8, the Guttenberg city council heard concerns about food trucks, lowered the age for golf cart operators, and heard an update from the Community Vitality Advisory Committee. 

Mayor Fred Schaub led council members Mandy Ludovissy, Austin Greve, Jane Parker, Steve Bahls and Michelle Geuder through the evening's agenda. City Manager Denise Schneider was also at the council table. 

Food trucks

Mike Hefel, owner of the Fish Shack, spoke to the council with concerns about the current food truck ordinance, stating trucks are unfair to brick and mortar businesses. His request to appear on the agenda was signed by eight  business owners. Addressing the questions in his written request to appear, the city manager said that 15 licenses had been granted this year for a total cost of $360; the cost is $25/day for a truck and $10 for a  push cart, and that the revenue goes into the general fund. The city manager said that the original ordinance was passed in 2019 and that the council reduced the fee in 2020 from $50 to $25.

"I guess the main thing myself and the other restaurants and businesses believe that it is not a real good shot and not a real good thing for the city of Guttenberg," he said. "What does the food truck bring to town? Not much. The businesses in town pay utilities."

Several audience members spoke in support of food trucks, some voicing full support and others with qualifying comments. Some speakers referred to an incident that happened the prior week allegedly involving Hefel and a food cart owner, an incident widely discussed on social media. "There was a little ruckus at the Brewery and the police department was involved," noted the mayor. The police chief told the council that the incident was still under investigation.

Among those making statements to the council was Mike Hertges, who made a suggestion for off-street parking near the brewery. Beth Sadewasser of Sodes Green Acre  said that she supports the food trucks in general but thought it was in bad taste to bring them in for Celebrate Guttenberg, and she also called for more positivity on social media. Taylor Rausch voiced support for food trucks and said she would like to see businesses collaborate. Erin Potter of Buenie Bottoms food truck spoke with concerns about possible incidents in the future. Stephanie Strader mentioned her posts on social media, saying food trucks are a positive thing and encouraged people to also continue going to their local restaurants, adding that food trucks can bring people to town. Linda Ludovissy of Blooming Branches  said she and co-owner Nancy Schroeder are not against food trucks and that local businesses  also need to support other local businesses. 

At the conclusion of discussion, Mayor Schaub cited the phone calls he had received and said, "We are not going to change the ordinance . . . the ordinance is going to stay. I think it is a good thing."

CV committee

Jackie Lee and Tim Ahlers of the Community Vitality committee gave an update on activities and gave a recap of efforts to define the position since the resignation of the last CV director. They noted they have  accomplished the goal of various groups working together. "We have accomplished the goal of bringing a lot of different groups to work on the common goal of community vitality," said Lee. "We believe now it is time to put a paid staff person in place to put all those objectives together."  They requested that a special meeting be scheduled with the CV board, GEIDC, council and Chamber of Commerce board.

Molly Moser of the CV board received council approval to submit a $5,000 grant application to Black Hills Energy for a tree planting project that would offer free trees to homeowners, at no cost to the city. Partners in the project include Trees Forever, the Clayton Ridge football team and high school environmental science class.

Golf cart change

The council passed the final review of a change to the golf cart ordinance, reducing the minimum age to operate from 18 to 16. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Greve voting nay.  

Marina issue

William Ruth, who rents a slip at the municipal marina, spoke to the council about incidents involving youngsters fishing in parts of the marina that are rented. He complained about worm dirt, hooks and other trash left in the area. He said he has pulled his boat from the marina because he felt threatened by an adult. "Not all kids are bad," he said. "It just takes one to ruin it for everybody." 

In council reports at the close of the meeting, discussion continued on the topic of kids fishing at the south marina — signage, places where fishing is allowed, gating and use of cameras. The police chief commented on past problems in the area. Councilmember Ludovissy said she didn't believe the council should ever endorse kicking off kids. "It's not right to create private property out of public property," she said.  

Dredge dumping

Kelly and Josh Roth, who reside on Acre Street, spoke to the council with concerns about dredged material being deposit on a property adjacent to their home, at the request of the property owner. The material comes from the city project to dredge Limbeck (Horseshoe) Pond. They asked that the dumping stop and requested that there be guidelines on the types and quantity of fill allowed in residential lots. Mike Hertges voiced a complaint about dredged material being dumped on the Schmitt property off Acre Street and other issues with that property.

Big Springs Park

Dennis McNeal of the Guttenberg Rotary Club asked the council about maintenance at Big Springs Nature Park, a Rotary project. "We'd like to get some kind of maintenance scheduled," he  The mayor said the matter would be discussed with the public works director.  The council also agreed to fund the concrete for the Rotary sponsored fish-design bike rack to be installed by the public restrooms.

Nuisance properties

The mayor gave an update on various nuisance properties. “We are making slow progress,” he said.  It was decided to have the city attorney proceed with action on the Ian Rodenberg property. A reminder letter about an upcoming deadline was sent to Don/Tim Schmitt.

Railroad web cam

Following up on a request at the July meeting, Thomas Hogan of Marion returned to the council for final approval on an agreement to set up a railroad webcam for his Steel Highway Railcams You Tube channel. Under terms of the agreement with the city, he will make a $75 deposit for power consumption. 

Other business

The speed limit on a portion of North Fifth Street was reduced from 35 to 25 mph in order to make it uniform with the rest of the street.

The council was given a draft ordinance governing the use of temporary portable storage containers. Council members will review it, make recommendations and consider it at an upcoming meeting.

On a 4-1 vote, the council set a public hearing for the September monthly meeting to designate an urban renewal area, plan and project. Councilmember Bahls voted against the item.  

The sign design for the Schiller Street entrance pillar was approved; it features a pilot’s wheel and the wording “Historic Rivertown, Est. 1839.”

The council okayed going ahead with code updates to conform to 2022 legislative changes, and will consider them at the September meeting. 


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