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Perham City Council discusses truck route

The Perham City Council heard an update on a possible truck route through the city from Public Works Director Merle Meece and Police Chief Jason Hoaby at the special council meeting on May 25.

"With the new interchange coming and the way that trucks are damaging roads," Hoaby said, "We've been talking about a truck route as a good idea for the city."

To enforce a truck route, Hoaby said, the city would have to pass an ordinance.

The route would give trucks access to industries in town, Hoaby said. As of now, it includes all county and state highways in the city and other main city streets.

But, he said, trucks don't necessarily have to stay only on the route.

"The ordinance is not barring any other street from being used, if that's part of their business," Hoaby added.

Councilman Jim Johnson asked Hoaby if violating the ordinance would be a ticketable offense. Hoaby said it could be a misdemeanor for trucks not driving on the route.

"I personally think it's a good idea," councilmember Jim Johnson said. "Truck traffic in town is only going to increase."

Klemm said the truck route idea was something that had been discussed for several years, but the city had never taken action until now.

Were the route to be adopted, the public works department would be responsible for ensuring that the route would be clear for truck drivers, according to the draft of the ordinance.

The council will further discuss and likely vote on the proposed ordinance at the Monday, June 13 regular city council meeting.

In other business, the council also discussed a zoning ordinance having to do with the upcoming expansion of St. Henry's Church in Perham.

With the expansion, Klemm said, the church is expecting to be able to hold 500 people. According to city law, the church would then be required to provide 125 off-street parking spaces (the law allots four persons per parking space).

Klemm said the city law allowed for the sharing of 50 percent of parking spaces within 500 feet of the building. Within 500 feet of St. Henry's, Klemm said, is the Arvig Communications System building, United Community Bank and other buildings, all of which already have off-street parking.

St. Henry's was asking the council to consider changing the ordinance so that they would be able to share 75 percent of parking, instead of 50.

The council agreed that during the weekend, it wouldn't be a problem for St. Henry's to share the parking spaces. Mayor Tim Meehl voiced some concern about sharing parking during the weekend. A convention or a funeral, he said, could easily fill up most of the shared parking spaces during the weekday.

The council then voted to approve the ordinance.

The council also continued discussion about cuts in Local Government Aid (LGA) and what it would mean to the city.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said that the most recent conference committee tax bill created in the Legislature would, as expected, drop Perham's LGA amounts back to 2010 levels. For Perham, this would mean a cut in $90,000.

"For the city of Perham, that proposal doesn't sound bad," Klemm said. It's larger cities - St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth - that stand to lose from the tax bill. Those cities would all be phased out of LGA, if the bill were passed.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 13 at 5:15 p.m.