DARLINGTON – At the Aug. 6, 2019 of City of Darlington Common Council meeting, the council approved an ordinance relating to weed and grass control and then Mayor David Breunig vetoed it.
The ordinance amending Chapter 13 is an entirely new section replacing a single paragraph. The previous chapter reads as follows: Noxious Weeds - All noxious weeds and other rank growth of vegetation. All weeds and grass shall be kept cut to a height not to exceed 8 inches.
The changes include:
•Mowing – cannot exceed 8 inches (which remained the same), on land not used for agriculture of woodland lots.
•Clippings – cannot be blown onto the street or into a neighbors yard (without permission).
•Enforcement – After a five day written notice to the owner, the city will mow and charge the owner for all expenses incurred by the city. No other notices will be sent – so if the grass goes over 8 inches again, the city will mow and charge the owner again – and so-forth.
Alder John Sonsalla said, “We were all at the committee meeting. I don’t think we have to readdress the changes.”
Alder Dave Gough made a motion to approve the Ordinance amending Chapter 13, Sonsalla seconded the motion.
Breunig asked for discussion and then made a comment himself, “I’m going to say it again – I am not going to approve this, because of section 3 (clippings). I think making this an ordinance is ridiculous. The number of people everyday that could be cited for violating this is at least 10 to 12. This is totally unnecessary and uncalled for and I will veto this.”
Breunig continued, “I have no problem putting a letter in with the sewer and water bill, requesting residents to not blow clippings into the street. But to make this an ordinance and handing out citations to a dozen people a week, I think that’s totally uncalled for. All you’re doing is harassing our citizens.”
Director of Public Works, Jeremy Williams quipped, “Is this because you do this yourself?”
Breunig said, “As I said, when you drive around town you’re going to see 10 to 12 violations.”
Williams said, “So fine them. All they have to do is turn their lawn mower around.”
A procedure question was asked of City Attorney Bill McDaniel.
McDaniel said, “It will take a 2/3 vote to override a veto. It will need to come up at a future meeting.”
Alder Dave Roelli said, “It’s alright to request people not to do something. But unless you have a recourse, if they ignore you, you’re not going to solve the problem. If we talk to Chief King – he would give a warning first. If you have chronic violators, then you have some teeth to go after them.”
Gough called for the question.
Breunig asked for a roll call vote – Gough, Sonsalla, Pickett & Roelli voted in favor. Alder’s Erin Gallegher and Cindy Corley were absent. The motion passed 4-0.
Breunig said, “The ordinance was approved and the Mayor is going to veto it.”
Williams said, “The reason I want this is we have enough stuff plugging up our storm sewer, I don’t need grass in there too.”
Breunig asked, “Are you then going to require people to cut down their trees because of leaves plugging up the storm sewer? It’s the same thing.”
Williams argued, “It’s not the same thing. Are you serious? Leaves happen once a year.”
The item was requested to be on the next meeting’s agenda.
Pickett asked what the fine would be for clippings on the street.
McDaniel advised the council that it would be similar to the alternate side parking fine, $20 - $200.
In other business:
•Approved a certified survey map request from Tim, Dawn and Tab Wiegel and Mike McDermott (see below).
•Approved Library Board appointment of: Lori Nodorft (school board rep), Lawrence Hardyman and Judy Whalen.
•Tabled adding a Junior Library Trustee (high school student) to the Library Board, the council wanted more information.
•Approved an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). The agreement compensates the city for 2021 Hwy. 23 reconstruction project. The items the city will be paid for are: temporary easement on land; movement of Redbird sign and Suzi’s sign; removal of one medium tree and one large tree and purchase of 49 sq. ft. of land for a total of $11,550 due the city.
•Approved July vouchers in the amount of $295,410.
•A lengthy informal discussion happened at the end of meeting, addressing the city’s building regulations that was addressed at a recent Policies, Procedures and Ordinance Committee meeting.
•No action came out of closed session concerning a proposed agreement with the Town of Darlington.
The committee met Tuesday. Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. and approved:
•A certified survey map submitted from Tim, Dawn and Tab Wiegel and Mike McDermott. The two properties approved are located off Bluebird Lane in the Tama Run Subdivision in the Town of Darlington. Both lots are located near (but outside) the city’s boundary.
Some discussion about water runoff that affected Jerry Lindsay’s driveway. Tab Wiegel stated that the lots being discussed have nothing to do with that runoff.
•A floorplan change for Glennie’s Bar and Grill. The plan is to extend the cooking area (behind the bar) to reach to the front right hand side window. Josh Goebel is doing the work.
Update: The Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, Inc. (SWCAP) multi-family farm labor housing unit with 24 units that has been approved by the City of Darlington is still applying for funds. According to Pickett SWCAP is still looking for $4 million funding. SWCAP was awarded a $3 million grant/loan and SWCAP has an option on that money through the end 2020.