City council chambers NDN

The Norfolk city council voted to table a controversial ordinance restricting parking on lawns Monday night.

Though no one from the public spoke to the council at the meeting, council members Shane Clausen and Rob Merrill said they have received comments from constituents and wanted to table the item to address concerns about potential loopholes and other possible issues with the law.

The motion to table the ordinance was approved by a unanimous vote.

The ordinance will be discussed in city council subcommittees with city staff members and will be considered again at a later city council meeting.

The ordinance as it stands would restrict parking on any non-paved surface on residential lots, and would also create restrictions on paving over yards to create parking areas.

Valerie Grimes, the city director of planning and development, said the ordinance has been proposed “on and off” in years past and city staff was asked to propose it again.

In other business, the council heard a report from Traci Jeffrey, the director of the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau.

Jeffrey said tourism has been steadily increasing in Norfolk, with 292,000 visitors in the city in 2018. That figure is a 4.5% increase over 2017.

Those tourists, Jeffrey said, brought more than $46 million to area businesses and generated about $4.6 million in tax revenue in 2018.

Council member Jim Lange, presiding over the meeting in mayor Josh Moenning’s absence, said the visitors bureau has done good work and has brought some excitement to Norfolk.

“I’ve heard a lot of people excited about the art and events being brought here,” he said.

Jeffrey said the visitors bureau is continually looking for new and different types of events, such as the inaugural Sculpture Walk this summer.

The only other business discussed Monday night was a series of bridge repairs slated for next year.

City engineer Steve Rames said the city is targeting three bridges on North First Street, Benjamin Avenue and Elm Avenue next summer.

Rames said because of school traffic, some repairs won’t happen until school is out of session for the summer in 2020. The projects are anticipated to take about two months to complete.

In the council’s consent agenda, which are items considered routine and not discussed at the meeting, the city announced a settlement was reached regarding an incident last summer.

Robert Lowe received an injury from a bite from a police dog on Aug. 7, 2018. Lowe reached a settlement with the city for $112,500. The funds were paid by the League Association of Risk Management, which insures the city.

The council did not need to approve the agreement, but rather the details of the settlement were included on the council’s agenda as required by state statute.

The Norfolk City Council met Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Norfolk City Council Chambers.

Council members present: Dick Pfeil, Corey Granquist, Shane Clausen, Jim Lange, Gary L. Jackson, Rob Merrill, Fred Wiebelhaus and Thad Murren.

Council members absent: Mayor Josh Moenning.

Meeting lasted: 20 minutes.

Others in attendance: City staff, five; media representatives, three; and about 20 from the public.

Action items:

— Council president Jim Lange presided over the meeting in mayor Josh Moenning’s absence.

— The consent agenda was approved with one change, with one consent agenda item moved to the regular agenda.

— The council approved a resolution extending the city’s participation in the League Association of Risk Management to 2022, 7-0, with Wiebelhaus abstaining due to a conflict of interest.

— The council held a public hearing to consider an ordinance establishing parking restrictions on residential lots. No one from the public spoke. After a brief discussion among council members, council members Clausen and Merrill moved to table the discussion. The item was tabled with a unanimous vote.

— The council approved plans for bridge repair contracts and authorized advertisements for bids.

Special presentations:

— Traci Jeffrey, director of the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau, presented to the council about statistics relating to tourism in Norfolk and Madison County.

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