Zoning regulations grandfather clause passes first reading

A city ordinance aimed at providing a grandfather clause to allow properties that are no longer considered "lots" to receive building permits passed its first of three readings during a Fort Calhoun City Council meeting on May 20.

The city changed its definition of a lot in December to better align with Washington County's definition. The old definition considered any properties bordering a public street, a private street with public access or private thoroughfare easements as lots. The city no longer considers properties bordering only private easements to be lots. To be considered a lot by Washington County zoning definitions, a property must border a public street.

The proposed grandfather clause aimed to allow long-time owners of properties only bordered by private easements an avenue through the zoning and building permit process, which is currently handled by the county as well as the City of Fort Calhoun.

Mayor Mitch Robinson said Washington County does the inspections for the city. The county's zoning regulations state every building should be erected on a lot of record.

A second and third reading of the ordinance must occur and pass before the grandfather clause takes effect.

City considering moving building inspections to private company

The City of Fort Calhoun heard from a representative of JDW Midwest, a private company that handles building inspections for small and large jurisdictions.

Darin Whatcott, of JDW, said if the city wanted to enter into an agreement with JDW, it could choose to have the company inspect only certain kinds of buildings, such as residential, or become the building department for the city. If JDW were the building department for the city, it would have a similar relationship as it does with City Engineer Lucas Billesbach of JEO Consulting.

Were they city to enter into an agreement with JDW to become the building department for the city, JDW would handle all building inspections and codes for Fort Calhoun instead of Washington County. The city would create its own building permitting process.

"We're real thorough on liability," Whatcott said. "We're very efficient."

No decision by the city council was made.

Keno funds approved for historical association, Fort Atkinson Foundation

The City of Fort Calhoun approved $780 in Keno Funds to be used for an Old Fashioned Community Open House event hosted by the Washington County Historical Association (WCHA) July 13.

The event would include a walking or bike tour of about two dozen historical buildings around Fort Calhoun, said Julie Ashton, executive director of the WCHA. Each building would have a sign in front to show what it was 100 years ago. Pamphlets would also be made to show where each building is, and after the tour, walkers and bikers could go to the Frahm House for ice cream or to West Market Square Park to hear a barbershop quartet.

The funds would be used to create the materials.

The city also approved $2,500 to be used for initial costs to hose the 2020 National Fur Trade Symposium at Fort Atkinson.

David Genoways, with the Fort Atkinson Foundation, said the symposium is an academic event where people submit academic papers and then present them during the event. About 200-250 from across the county come to the symposium, he said, and the public is invited to go as well.

Additional displays would be at Fort Atkinson's visitors center that weekend for the public. Genoways said the event eventually pays for itself with the activities that occur through the weekend.

"At the end of most of these events, they publish a book," Genoways said. "Forever, there will be a book of all the papers that were done here that will be tied to Fort Calhoun and Fort Atkinson."

City awards water main extension project

The City of Fort Calhoun awarded a contract of $29,610 to Cedar Construction to complete a large portion of its Adams Street water main extension project.

The contract is pending a cost sharing agreement with St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. The water main will be connected to Schwertley Hall and the new park being planned for the Adams Street corridor.

The city will pay around two-thirds of the cost of the total project, Billesbach said, which could be just under $35,000.

FCVFD to use city wastewater plant for training

The City of Fort Calhoun approved the use of the city wastewater plant for live fire and smoke training by the Fort Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department (FCVFD).

Fire Chief Dan Mallory said the wastewater plant is a good location because it isn't very close to anything, has a fence around it and a lot of concrete.

FCVFD will use big metal shipping containers, a tall wooden structure and a thin structure with temporary walls to practice live fire, smoke, ladder and extraction training.

"This is a great way to get our firefighters into real fire training, some real live fire before an incident," Mallory said.

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