Isanti ordinance changes affect student sellers

Beginning next week, the Isanti County area will be alive with the annual sounds of the selling of Girl Scout cookies. However, because of an ordinance change approved by the Isanti City Council during their Feb. 4 meeting, the Girl Scouts, along with any other nonprofits looking to raise money for their organization, will have to obtain a license from the city before they can sell their goods.

The new ordinance, which relates to peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants, encompasses three areas of sales from a non-permanent location. 

First, the new ordinance addresses mobile food units and their use in commercial areas of private property with applicable regulations to other cities. Mobile food trucks would now be able to operate in residential and park zones as part of a special events permit.

Second, any fundraising activities with donation or payment in exchange for product will now need a solicitors’ license. 

After getting confirmation that this ordinance change included such things as students selling coupon books, City Council Member Dan Collison recommended the city contact the school to notify them of the change to the ordinance, since youth organizations conducting fundraising activities in the city would now need a permit. 

“A lot of students won’t be aware of that, and they will start doing their fundraising activities, and they’ve never had to do it before,” he said.

The last change was extending the need for solicitor and peddler licenses to all zoning districts, which were previously only needed in residential districts. 

Assistant City Administrator and Special Projects Coordinator Don Lorsung told the council all these changes were recommended by the city attorney.

“As far as the mobile food part of it, I think this is really a solid ordinance,” said Council Member Jimmy Gordon. “I think we really did a nice job on this. As someone who’s been a part of that industry, I think it’s really competitive compared to other towns. I think it’s great, I’d like to be the first to make a motion.”

Other ordinance changes

The council approved a total of five ordinances that were either changed or outright repealed and replaced as part of the city’s efforts to update their entire ordinance book.

Another ordinance amended relates to the possession, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Changes included new language for limited licensing of culinary classes and the licensing of microdistilleries and microdistillery cocktail rooms, according to Lorsung. 

An ordinance relating to open burning was repealed and replaced, with the major change being eliminating the city from collecting fees and issuing permits, and transferring those responsibilities to the Fire District, according to Isanti Police Chief Travis Muyres.

An amendment to the ordinance relating to the order of business and public comment at city council meetings changed “citizen input” to “public comment” and placed it after the call to order within the city council meeting, according to City Administrator Josi Wood.

An ordinance related to adult uses was repealed and replaced. “Per the city attorney, it has been determined that the current regulations regarding adult uses needs to be updated,” said Community Development Director Sheila Sellman, noting the new ordinance was drafted by the League of Minnesota Cities’ appointed attorney. 

“Basically, this repeals the current ordinance and replaces it with the proposed language,” she said.

In addition, zoning ordinance amendments will have to take place as far as zoning districts and where adult use is a permitted use, she added, noting it will go before the planning commission. 

“All zoning ordinances need to have a public hearing before the planning commission before they review it at city council,” she said. 

Sellman explained that the ordinance was not going before the planning commission, but, due to the language in the ordinance, changes need to be made to the city’s zoning ordinances. 

“For example, adult use just by itself is recommended to be approved only in the industrial district,” Sellman said, “and that needs to be addressed in the zoning code, because zoning code says where uses can go.”

Street rehabilitation project open house scheduled

An open house will take place Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. regarding the 6th Avenue Southwest street rehabilitation project, which will take place during summer 2020.

As part of the project, the current bituminous surface of the street will be ground up with the existing aggregate base, and a 3.5-inch bituminous surface will be reinstalled, according to City Engineer Jason Cook. 

Due to the current width of the street, parking can only be allowed on one side due to state regulations. No parking signs will be placed on the east side of Sixth Avenue Southwest, according to Cook.

Spot curb and gutter repair will also take place, as well as the completion of a portion of sidewalk. There will also be minor upgrades to portions of the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Discussion took place regarding parking and completion of a trail to Isanti Hills Park. However, council concluded the construction of a parking lot and the trail would not take place at this time, but a water main will be stubbed in for possible future upgrades to the park.

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