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Hoisington upholds fireworks ordinance

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
• Approval of the low bid from auditing firm Clubine and Rettle, Chartered for a three-year contract to provide auditing services. The city will pay $25,900 over three years. 
• Council members toured the city offices and were apprised on progress of the remodeling project. They also toured the city auditorium to observe the newly installed HVAC system.
• The City Manager’s Report included information about progress on a COPS grant application, the Roto-Mix agreement, McKenna Meadows property sales, and Community Development Survey progress. 

HOISINGTON — Hoisington City Council members had two weeks to review the city’s fireworks ordinance following a discussion at the June 12 meeting. When they met again Monday night, fireworks were once again on the agenda, and the council unanimously agreed to uphold the ordinance that allows the discharge of fireworks in the city on one day only, July 4, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
They also noted that despite the ordinance, fireworks continue to be discharged past that time.
Increased enforcement was called for by more than one member. Enforcement was also called for when dealing with applications for block parties on that day. Members agreed to continue to charge the $100 mandatory deposit for barricades with each approved application.
Applicants must have every house that is affected by the street closure give their OK, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said. Council members also consented that deposit will not be returned if applicants fail to clean up the area following the party.
Police Chief Kenton Doze said so far, only three applications for block parties have been received, so enforcement should be manageable. He will continue to take applications until Thursday, June 29 at noon.

Land use in question
At the June 12 Hoisington City Council meeting, Nick Lomas requested permission to lease the property west of the city’s sewer pump station. When the city revisited the request Monday night, heated discussion ensued, and resulted in the council opting to table the discussion until they have time to review the information presented by all parties.
Lomas, along with Cole Birzer, want to lease the north-south strip for their sons to do flat-track motorcycle racing practice. The use would be private, not public. Lomas and Birzer assured council members at the last meeting that adjacent property owners were agreeable, and that concerns about the road and traffic would be addressed. Some concern was expressed by the council about the property owned by Cathy and Curtis Hitchman, who provide secure storage next to the land in question. Provided the Hitchman’s were in agreement, along with the other adjacent landowners, the council authorized Mitchell to draw up a lease for one year, allowing use of the property.
But, after the decision was reported by news media, Mitchell said the city staff has received calls from adjacent property owners who are not supportive of the lease. They were at Monday night’s meeting.
First, Lomas presented a letter from the Hitchman’s, which included conditions they wanted met in order to give their consent. Lomas and Birzer assured the council that those conditions would not be a problem.
Matthew Gerritzen, representing his parents, Bob and Irma Gerritzen, and David Roat, addressed the council. Roat is the current owner of the property located at 463 S. Main Street. The Gerritzen family will close on the property by the end of the month.
According to Mike Gerritzen, their concerns include soil erosion, degradation and remediation after the fact. Rather than the city moving forward with the one-year lease to Lomas and Birzer, Gerritzen said they proposed the city sell the property to the Gerritzens. The request was quickly followed by one from Lomas and Birzer to purchase the property if the city was willing to sell.
Councilman Mike Aylward addressed the Gerritzens (who were also at the meeting), inquiring if the property had been surveyed, and what was their intent for purchasing the city’s property.
Mike Gerritzen said they plan to build a waterway and a settlement pit there to alleviate the problem of water overflowing onto their property from neighbors to the north. They propose to pay all expenses and perform the construction, noting that between Mike Gerritzen and his father, they have over 40 years of experience and access to all the needed equipment.
The rest of the property would be used for their personal storage. They also intend to take care of the deferred maintenance on the existing building there, and eventually look towards some sort of development. The initial work could take a year or two.
As discussion became heated at times, Mitchell asked both parties to address their comments to the council, not to each other. Councilwoman Karen Van Brimmer suggested the council take some time to study the issue further, and it was agreed then to table the discussion. Both provided the council with letters from adjacent property owners, as well as the Gerritzens plans for the property.

The Hoisington City Council will meet next at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 10, at the Hoisington Municipal Complex.