McGregor considers riverfront enforcement options
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
The riverfront was once again a major topic of discussion at McGregor’s Jan. 15 city council meeting, as the council considered ordinance options that would give the city, and thus the dock commission, the ability to enforce riverfront lease conditions.
With that authority, the dock commission could prohibit the use of boat docks in leased areas that have been inspected and deemed unsafe.
At the city’s December meeting, City Attorney Mike Schuster said he would look at ordinances from other municipalities and use them as a template to develop McGregor’s ordinance. Since that time, various ordinances were shared with city officials and dock commission members, who gave their feedback to Schuster as to which provisions would work best for the city.
The ordinance is still being developed, but Schuster said it would likely be similar to a nuisance ordinance. However, rather than forcing someone to mow their four-inch-high grass, it would give the dock commission “teeth” to make renters see to the safety and upkeep of the docks.
The major issue with the docks is that they do not reside in city limits, but on state property. Schuster said he has discussed the issue with the DNR, who believes it can help the city make the ordinance enforceable. If the DNR cannot provide assistance or answers before Feb. 1, Schuster said he will file a proposal for an involuntary annexation, which would make the space an extension of the city limits, thus putting the docks in the city’s jurisdiction.
Schuster stressed that time is of the essence, as the boating season is fast approaching.
“Things always take longer than you think,” he explained to the council. “We need to get going to have an ordinance in place.”
The proposed ordinance would only relate to the safety and upkeep of the riverfront, not to the city’s desire to, at some point, gain additional public dockage.
At the meeting, the council also heard reports and budget considerations from the Chamber of Commerce, McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts, McGregor Park Board and McGregor Public Library. As part of her park board report, Maria Brummel mentioned that, due to the emerald ash borer, the city will have to determine what to do with nearly 20 ash trees located around town.
“It’s hard on me to cut them down, especially ones that I planted,” Brummel said, mentioning that the trees were part of the city’s last major planting. “They enhance our parks and the quality of life. When people decide to move to a community, they look at schools, businesses and parks, so anything you do to improve parks is good for citizens and tourists. It’s a big reason they come here.”
More information about the other groups’ plans for the year will be included in future issues.