New London council gets to work on Pine Street subdivision

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


NEW LONDON ? The New London City Council has decided to proceed with grading the lots for the subdivision on Pine St. Moving forward with this project was a hot topic of debate at last month?s meeting, as some council members felt not enough was being done to move the project forward.

Because of the size and expense of the project, it must be publicly led according to state law. A public hearing has been set to take place during next month?s meeting. Around 15 acres of land will be disturbed during the renovation. Not all citizens were happy to hear about the city?s plan to move forward. Peg Parks approached the council during open forum to discuss the new developments to the subdivision. She voiced her concern over the new development, questioning whether it was necessary. ?I never hear or read in the paper where people come up here and say I want a house,? she said. Her concern stemmed from multiple homes in town being for sale and not selling. She also noted that several roads were in need of repair. Parks said her street in particular was in bad shape and was unaware of a plan to fix it.

Moving into old business, the council then discussed that updates on the Elm and Cleveland St. storm drain project are scheduled to begin as early as later this week and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30. The project is being sponsored by the DNR. No private property is expected to be disturbed as most work was done last fall. Mayor Ron Sadler will sign off on the project and a public hearing will be set at a later date.

Focusing on drivability, the council then discussed the final draft for the allowance of golf carts and UTVs. Originally the ordinance would only allow their use from sunrise to sunset. However, concern was raised about using the vehichles as transportation to sporting events. The council then decided to eliminate that rule stating that all vehicles must have working lights to be used after dark. Drivers also will be required to have a driver?s license and register the vehicle with the city. A color coded and reflective sticker will be sold by the city for each owner to purchase for their vehicle. The final draft will be drawn up and ready for approval at the next meeting.

The council then discussed the possibility of implementing a social media policy for city employees. The city has not had a problem with this before, but councilman Dan Berner brought it up as a precaution. Currently, the employee handbook states no city employees are permitted to use social media while they are working, but that does not apply to personal time. Fellow board members were cautious to proceed with councilman Kirk Miller proposing to monitor the usage and address it as needed. No further action was taken.

During a joint meeting with the City Council and the Utility Trustees, trustee Jerry Wilhelm announced they were willing to help fund the project for a portable grinder for the city. Wilhelm said the trustees would use it also and would fund 50 percent of the cost. As discussed in the last meeting, the grinder is estimated to cost around $68,500. Because there is not one like it in either Iowa or Illinois, one is being built and will be brought to the city for them to try before purchasing. The machine is currently being built and is two months out. No further action was taken.

During open forum, Mark Hempen, vice president of the Red Flag Horseless Carriage Tour, also approached the council to say thank you for the city?s support of the ride. The Annual Red Flag Horseless Carriage Tour goes from New London to Brighton Sept. 26-29. Any one- or two-cylinder, gas, steam or electric antique vehicles, including motorcycles, up to 1915, and any vehicle with more than two cylinders up to 1927 is permitted to participate. ?We?re looking forward to our sixth year,? he said. ?We?ve got quite a few that are signed up again.? Hempen asked for permission to use the park to host the event, as has been done in the past. In a 3-0 vote the council approved this and donated $500 to the cause. Councilman Tom Davis was absent.

Jason Moats, of Mt. Union, also approached the council to announce his run for the Iowa House of Representatives. The Monticello native has lived in Mt. Union for the past eight years and works in Mt. Pleasant at the Henry County Jail as a correctional translator. Moats said his reason for running is to strengthen the education system. ?I feel our kids are our future and they?re going to be running this state when we?re gone,? he said.

In other business, the council:

? Approved zoning permit and tax abatement for J.T. Beal

? Approved alcohol license renewal for Woobie?s

? Appointed Bob Byczek as new utility trustee

? Approved contract with Ahlers Cooney, P.C. to prepare ordinances and documentation regarding tax increment financing for new developments

? Approved the sale of police radar to Iowa DNR for $200

The next meeting of the New London City Council will be Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 6 p.m. in the City Office.